By Patrice Rivers
Long Beach, California resident Shaleea Venney is a 3-time bestselling Author, Speaker, and Host of the Girl Which Way?! Podcast. She is also the President and Founder of Venney Girl Inc, a non-profit organization for at risk young women where she is making a difference one girl at a time through summer camps, mentoring programs, conferences, and workshops, which are always completely FREE for all of her girls. Known as the “Teen Girl’s Champion,” Venney is a trusted force in the lives of many young women. Once a teen mom, she has devoted her work to reaching young women and helping them rise above their circumstances and blossom.
In 2013, Venney wrote and published her 1st book of Poetry titled Love Letters to Jesus and began keynote speaking at conferences, churches, and schools. Soon after, people began to solicit her help with their important writing tasks. Venney has helped many people write touching and beautiful wedding vows that genuinely reflect each individual. She’s helped numerous people land their dream jobs by revamping their resumes and coaching on how to nail their job interviews. She coaches other authors on authorpreneurship and edits their manuscripts. She has even helped grieving families lay their loved ones to rest with beautiful home going poems, obituaries, and words.
PATRICE RIVERS: WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND YOUR NON-PROFIT VENNEY GIRL, INC.?
SHALEEA VENNEY: I had my daughter when I was 16 and it completely derailed my life. I dropped out of school and put all of my plans on hold. I had to work my behind off to turn my life back around. I was always smart and driven, and had big plans of who I wanted to be. I thought about all these young women who come from the gutter like me, and how many of them are without a solid plan. I wrote my book Little Girl, Little Girl, Don’t Get Lost in This World to connect with those girls and to give them solid and honest tips on how not to make some of the mistakes I made. When it came out and I connected with some of these girls and their parents, I knew right away there was more work to be done. I needed to do more. Venney Girl Inc was born.
PR: WHEN DID YOU LAUNCH YOUR NON-PROFIT?
SV: November 2018 and we became an official 501c3 in April of 2019.
PR: A LOT OF PEOPLE ALWAYS TALK ABOUT HOW STRESSFUL AND HOW HARD IT IS TO START A NON-PROFIT. WHAT WAS THE PROCESS LIKE FOR YOU? ANY CHALLENGES YOU FACED ALONG THE WAY?
SV: You know what?! The process was actually pretty smooth for me for two reasons: First, I am such a student, and secondly, I’m so darn stubborn! I began researching how to start a nonprofit, what was needed, and the associated costs. I chose the name Venney Girl Inc. because I have a daughter whom I wanted to leave it to and I wanted her name to be on it. I went on to the IRS website and discovered I could file all of the forms on my own. I used the website IncFile to file my articles of Incorporation (if I knew then what I know now, I’d have done this on my own; it’s cheaper to just go to your states .gov website). They filed the articles for me after I had chosen my board of directors. Once I got everything back from my state, I went to pay.gov to pay my fees for recognition of exemption from the IRS. Once that was done, it took about a month and a half to receive our letter back from the IRS stating that my organization is officially tax exempt. Whatever it took to make it happen, I was willing to do it!
PR: TELL US ABOUT THE PROGRAMS THAT VENNEY GIRL, INC. OFFERS TO YOUNG GIRLS.
SV: We offer mentoring, college prep, summer camps, conferences, counseling/mental health resources.
PR: ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL EVENTS THAT YOUR TEAM PLANS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR?
SV: Yes! We host an annual summer camp for our girls, where we choose a beautiful destination, put them on a bus, and whisk them away for some girl time, growth, and bonding. We host girl empowerment conferences, fundraising events, and Christmas gift giveaways with our girls. We do prom outfit/makeup giveaways and backpack/school supply giveaways. During Thanksgiving, we partner with girls’ homes where we sponsor their meals and serve them. The best part of what we do? Everything is always free for our girls and their families. We never want money to be a reason they can’t participate in anything we do.
PR: WHAT DO YOU HOPE EACH GIRL TAKES AWAY FROM YOUR PROGRAMS AND BEING A PART OF YOUR EMPOWERMENT AND VISION?
SV: It is my hope and prayer that my girls grow their confidence in their abilities. I hope they feel empowered and truly loved. I want each girl to know that they forever have a sisterhood, mentors, and a team of women rooting for them. I pray that my girls will go out into this world, be great, and pull up another young woman and show her how great she can be.
I want each girl to know that they forever have a sisterhood, mentors, and a team of women rooting for them.
PR: YOU ARE A 3X BEST-SELLING AUTHOR. I NEED TO KNOW, AND I KNOW A LOT OF OUR READERS THAT ARE AUTHORS WANT TO KNOW AS WELL, HOW DOES AN AUTHOR MAKE IT TO THE BEST-SELLERS LIST OR HAVE THEIR BOOK BECOME #1?
SV: HARD WORK! I have been networking, writing, and showing up for years. I have garnered an amazing reader base and I am just so blessed. You certainly can’t just write and hope people show up. You have to tell people you’re out there and get their attention. Trial and error has taught me a ton! Which ads work best, who my core readers are, what the best Facebook groups are, where my ideal readers are, how to engage with my readers, and the art of the pre-sale. As authors, it is our job to tell our stories, but it is our responsibility to get them out to the masses. You must show up at events on and off line, and connect with your ideal reader. People don’t really buy your books, they buy you. No one will buy from someone they dislike or don’t know.
PR: ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON ANY NEW BOOK PROJECTS?
SV: I am always writing. I am currently working on a couple of new projects. One for married women and those that want to be married, a devotional for teen girls, and an Alzheimer’s/Dementia book.
PR: WHEN CAN WE EXPECT THEM TO BE RELEASED?
SV: All of these books are coming by the end of this year.
PR: TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR PODCAST, GIRL WHICH WAY?
SV: My podcast is another extension of my little girl book and Venney Girl Inc. It’s a way to connect with our girls on a global level, intimately. We’ll be talking about everything, and I mean every-thing, that concerns them. This is a great podcast for our girls to listen to with their parents. There aren’t many podcasts that are appropriate enough that teens and their parents can listen to together, and I wanted to change that. Like the book, it will be a catalyst for many needed conversations with our girls. I am so stoked about it and can’t wait for everyone to hear what we’ve been working on.
PR: HOW CAN READERS AND PEOPLE THAT WANT TO SUPPORT YOUR NON-PROFIT GET IN CONTACT WITH YOU?
SV: You can go to venneygirlinc.org if you’d like to support us and our efforts for our girls. We’re always looking for more mentors, donations of new and gently used clothing/shoes, backpacks etc, and financial donations. All donations are tax deductible.
To learn more about Shaleea Venney, follow her on Facebook at AuthorShaleeaVenney, on IG at Shaleea_Venney, her website at ShaleeaVenney.com. Her books are available wherever books are sold. Her nonprofit and podcasts are both On IG and Facebook at VenneyGirlInc and Girl_Which_Way