Grassroots group Under Her says ‘You could have been her,’ heads collection for women in need


From the Under Her press release:

A new grassroots organization targeting local communities, Under Her, will launch efforts to support women in need by collecting personal items, in particular, bras and feminine products, at the inaugural “Packing Her Bag, Pushing Her Thru” social to be held Saturday, September 8, 2018 at the Dumfries Community Center from 2 to 5 p.m. Donations can be dropped off anytime during the social.

Under Her will be accompanied by local nonprofit Real Women Moving Forward, LLC of Dumfries and feature guest speaker Cydny Neville of Neville Empowerment Network, Inc. The event will also include live music by local R&B performer Jay Durr.

 Under Her’s tagline is, “You could have been her.”

“We will be supporting women through donating bras and feminine products. We also hope to mentor young women by focusing on mental health, as well as domestic abuse,” said Under Her founder Shaye Brooks.

A divorced mother of four who has struggled with poverty and adversity and has had to seek help with depression, stress and anxiety, Brooks founded Under Her when she became aware of how difficult it was for girls and women to receive basic personal necessities.

“One of my daughter’s girlfriends came to stay with me for six months when her own mother was forced to live out of her car,” Brooks said. “In Virginia, it’s not illegal to live in your car, but I thought, no one should have to do that. So my daughter’s friend came home one day on the bus with my daughter and never left.

“I felt so bad, but with me having my own four kids, it was hard for me to take care of her, too. I called CPS, the school liaison and other community organizations, but I found there was no organization that could supply this poor seventh grade girl with a D cup bra and feminine products on a consistent basis until her mother reached some type of stability.

“After seeing this young lady go to school and get picked on, I knew there was something I had to do. The girls and I started having weekly lemonade stands to raise money for my daughter’s friend so I could make sure all the girls had what they needed each month.”

From there, the organization took shape, starting with family members and friends, and expanding to the larger community.

“My mom is amazing,” said Brooks’ daughter and board member, Ayana Diaz. “She has been trying to find out ways to reach out to the community for so long, and now it’s coming together. I’m also very thankful that she took my friend in when she did.”

“I’m so proud of my mom. She has finally found her purpose,” said Brooks’ daughter, E’Miya Diaz, who is also a board member.

 “I’m looking forward to supporting my daughter in this capacity,” said Brooks’ mother, Sheryl Brooks, who has been an advocate for her daughter.

The effort is a local one, said Brooks. “We do not ship the donations out. They will be donated to local shelters, churches and whoever needs them.”

Brooks has connected with other nonprofits, including Action in Community Through Service (ACTS) and the Hilda Barg Homeless Shelter, among other local organizations to learn how best to distribute the donations.

Brooks said they hope to hold a social every month in a different city eventually. “Our Goal is to have a trained a liaison in every city where there will be a drop-off point and pick-up point. They will hopefully be able to have their own socials for their direct community.”

The Dumfries Community Center is located at 17757 Main Street, Dumfries. For more information, visit www.UnderHer.org.

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