Sharita Rouse is the owner of Tummy YumYum Gourmet Candy Apples, 9119 Church Street in Manassas.

As people get to know her, they learn she is more than a business owner. She is devoted to her community.

While we were speaking with Rouse, she checked in with those passing by.

One person grabbed a cup of lemonade, and she graciously gifted them with ice cold water to go.

Another community member waved hello, and she stopped our conversation to provide them with a free hot meal. Tuesdays through Fridays Tummy YumYum feeds the homeless with a meal and cold drink, no questions asked.

Rouse believes her business is a lighthouse. She commented, “Some people come here to talk, and I sit there and listen.”

A couple years ago, Rouse worked in oral surgery. One day she said God spoke to her, “Create candy apples.” She leapt out in faith.

Two years later, she’s serving people from across the Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area. Tummy YumYum has customers that travel from Richmond, Winchester, New Jersey, Delaware, and West Virginia to grab a gourmet apple.

The main seller at Tummy YumYum is the assortment of 75 flavors of candy apples. Each flavor once appeared in Rouse’s dream.

Since 2017, the business has grown from making 100 candy apples bi-weekly to 800.

Additionally, they craft chocolate covered strawberries, cheesecake push-up pops, pretzels, pecan turtles, designer rice crispy treats, pears, and Italian icees. Shipping, delivery, and catering is also available.

When asked “Why candy apples?” Rouse simply said, “I wanted to bring a smile to people’s faces. Candy apples are mainly associated with carnivals and summer. I wanted to provide that smile year around.”

This article was written by Staff Writer Amber Dunn.