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Meet Shaleea Venney of Venney Girl

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shaleea Venney.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Shaleea. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
I’ve been writing all of my life. It’s the only thing that ever really made me feel alive. I was always smart and excelled in school, so everyone had big plans for me. I ruined everyone’s plans when I got pregnant and had my first child at the tender age of 16.

Everyone wrote me off as a statistic and said I would never be anything more than a cautionary tale for young women. I’d dropped out of school and ended up on public assistance but could never get the passion that burned inside of me to die. I could never stop dreaming. I went back and finished high school and became a Licensed Nurse. I didn’t feel fulfilled. It’s like I always knew there was more to life.

I decided to stop playing it safe and go after my passion. I started writing again. I published my first book in 2013, and the response was encouraging. In 2018, I penned my first bestseller Little Girl, Little Girl, Don’t Get Lost In This world. It’s a book for girls like me. Girls who are uncertain of their which way to go and are at risk of getting lost in the maze that is life.

One wrong decision can alter the entire trajectory of the rest of your life. Little did I know when I wrote it, that book was so much more than a book. It was the start of something so much bigger. Venney Girl Inc was born from it.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
HAHAHA!! That’s a funny question. There are literally days that I wake up asking myself “Are you crazy?! and Why do I even bother”. It’s so hard! If I wasn’t so stubborn, I probably would’ve quit already. It’s hard to get people to know that you exist, it’s hard to get people to support you, it’s hard when you’re just starting out because everything is sort of an experiment as you’re getting your footing. You hope for success right away, but it’s a process. So I pray hard, and walk out on faith and do it anyway.

The biggest lesson I have learned along the way is don’t be afraid of making a fool of yourself because of what others will think/say. It takes courage to get out there and go against the grain, and it’s humbling realizing you need the help of others. I had to start gofundmes and do fundraisers to raise funds to see some of my visions happen. You will feel discouraged when no one donates or when people doubt your dreams. People can make you feel like the joke is on you. It will make you want to give up and play it safe. DO NOT. It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks, if you can envision it, you can achieve it.

Is every day a struggle? You better believe it! Life was so much simpler before I decided to follow my purpose. Life was also not as meaningful, so I persevere. This is what separates the dreamers from the doers. Everyone has a dream, but how far are you actually willing to go to see it come to pass?

Please tell us about Venney Girl Inc.
It is hard to become something you have never seen. Not everyone has a positive role model to look up to. Some of our girls could be thought-provoking leaders and game changers but have no one to pour into them. It is my mission to change that.

Once my Little Girl book was published, I couldn’t shake the thought that there was more work for me to do. I prayed on it, and my non-profit Venney Girl Inc was born. Venney Girl Inc is my dream personified. It is what I was always supposed to do.

I am most proud of the summer camp we are currently putting together. Impoverished communities don’t have very many affordable options, and this has been true for quite some time. I weighed the idea of doing a summer camp that would enrich the lives of these girls and allow them to be around positive vibes. I knew the most important factor would be the cost, so we decided it should be free.

Most summer camps end and you go on about your life. Here at VGI, we believe that it is not wise to plant seeds if you are not planning to water the soil. That is why we created the VGI mentoring program. When summer camp is over, our girls will not be abandoned, we will schedule weekly calls/skypes with our girls to keep them accountable and on track.

We will also provide scholarships, workshops, and conferences for young women ages 13-19. We want our girls to succeed in every arena of their lives from health to finances, so we teach them about success and also address all of the other common concerns that young women have from sex to self-esteem. We teach them the importance of education and what it takes to run their own businesses.

We re-train their minds and lift their spirits until they understand that no matter where you come from, you can be anything that you choose to be. Life is simply a series of choices and, success is a choice. We must decide that we will be successful- on purpose. Success can never be an accident, it must be intentional.

VGI’s programs are run solely on the support of our donors and volunteers, and we appreciate all of them.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My favorite childhood memory is probably not what you’d think. I didn’t go outside to play very often, so I was always made fun of for being a bit of a geek. I was always reading and writing.

It makes me smile now because even back then, I always knew who I was supposed to be and what I was destined to do. I would write books, poetry, and speeches. I was so happy when my parents’ friends, my teachers, or the adults would hear my words because they were always impressed and it made me feel so smart.

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