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TCC alum launches non-profit focusing on mental health

Drew Ferebee found her purpose at Tidewater Community College.

“I never imagined that studying Human Services would be the most influential experience of my life,” she said. “My time at TCC helped me discover my passion and the faculty inspired me to walk in my purpose.”

The TCC alumna earned an Associate of Applied Science in Human Services in 2019 and went on to earn a bachelor’s in Human Services with a minor in children’s rights from Old Dominion University in 2021.

“I’m super thankful to my grandma who believed in me. She paid for my first semester at TCC,” Drew said. “I didn’t do well in high school, but once I got to TCC and found Human Services everything changed. I got super passionate and motivated and for the first time enjoyed learning.”

Drew credits Program Head Ivory Warren with keeping her on track and her advisors at TCC for connecting her with Human Services in the first place.

“Drew was a remarkable student and knew her purpose was to become that ‘Change Agent’ in people’s lives so that they could move toward the ultimate goal of becoming self-sufficient,” Warren said. “While pursuing her degree in human services, learning the applicable skills to add to her toolbox, she was unstoppable and always gave excellent insight, input and feedback during class discussions.”

While at TCC, Drew completed her program internship hours at Teens with a Purpose where she served as the community outreach coordinator. That experience sparked her interest in community service.

“I learned how to study and be a student at TCC. The college gave me a great foundation,” Drew said. “My professors were really patient and created a very personal experience for me.”

After graduation, Drew worked as a crisis intervention specialist for the YWCA and other agencies. Those experiences showed her that her goal was to find creative solutions for mental health challenges.

That’s why the 25-year-old Norfolk native recently launched INJOY, a non-profit with the mission of improving the quality of life for individuals through mental health awareness, advocacy and fun.

 It may sound like a tall order, but Drew says she’s up for the challenge.

The group’s first event was a “Feel Good Festival” in May attracting more than 300 attendees. The event marked Mental Health Awareness month and included artists and performers. In addition, community members were able to sign up for mental health counseling if needed.

“We wanted to create something for those who don’t have access to therapy,” Drew added. “My goal is for people to be okay where they are and to bring them hope and joy.”

This fall, INJOY offered a workshop on “Understanding Black Mental Health – A Community Wellness Event” in October, and in November they are hosting a “Healing Your Inner Child” event.

Drew’s other professional involvements include serving as an advocate for mental health at the Virginia General Assembly. In addition, she presented at the Mental Wealth Expo in New York and a Self-Care conference in Norfolk.

“My message is simple for those who come to INJOY events and others,” Drew said. “You don’t have to be that strong person doing everything alone. When you experience mental health issues lean in, don’t fall back. The best thing is to reach out for support.”

She added, “I am forever thankful for the foundation TCC set for me to be successful and serve my community.”