Tell us about yourself – My name is Shareta Berry, former homeless single mother and a domestic violence survivor. I started volunteering as a community outreach worker at the age of 14, then worked with churches in the Baltimore, MD area assisting Pastors with Special Needs Children as a teen. In 2003, I moved to Richmond, VA with my six children and started working with AmeriCorps as a volunteer working with At Risk Youth in low income communities with Job Readiness Preparation. I moved to Durham, NC in 2010 and in 2011 founded and became the CEO of Driven 2 Destiny Outreach Center Inc. I hold an Associates Degree in Psychology and I’m currently in School for my BA Science Degree in Psychology.
What is the focus of your work? The focus of the work that I do is helping women, children and At Risk Youth in low income communities and in areas where crime is at its highest. The needs of 21st-century communities seem to be growing by the day. Our centers have expanded to meet these needs. Over the years, we have learned that what people need most is someone who will listen to their concerns – someone they can turn to for support when the going gets tough. And that’s what Driven 2 Destiny Outreach Center is all about. So we have expanded the scope of community services to include drug prevention, community outreach, and coming soon, shelter facilities for displaced families and women that are escaping domestic violence or the lifestyle of prostitution.
What do you find most rewarding about your work? The most rewarding thing that I find is knowing that at the end of the day that someone walked away with a smile on their face and the help that they need to getting one step closer to obtaining the life change they are longing for, for both them and their family. It makes me feel happy knowing that I am doing just what God has placed me on this Earth to do – help someone in their time of need and in their time of trouble, as people were there for me and my family when we needed help.
Tell us about your biggest accomplishment in this position – The biggest accomplishment and most memorable was in 2014, when we first were able to feed families for the Christmas holiday season and at the same time we were able to help children on the Angel Tree list with gifts. That was something that I have dreamed of doing for two years, to finally see the vision and dream come true.
What’s coming next for you and/or for your organization that really excites you? For the month of August, we have our very first ever women’s empowerment meeting, where we meet with women that have been through domestic violence, raped, and molested and help them overcome their fear so that they can move toward rebuilding their life and taking back what was stolen from them – self-worth. This will be the first time that we are doing this in Richmond, VA, as I have done this meeting in the North Carolina Region.
How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission? I want to say that since we relocated to the Richmond, VA area and I have connected with ConnectVA it has helped open some doors for us on a higher level and more people are willing to come and volunteer with us more during the times that people are in need of help. ConnectVA opens doors for nonprofits that are small but have a very big vision. Through ConnectVA, I hope to build a strong and solid partnership with other local and national nonprofits that are like-minded and have some of the same goals and ideas to help the community and the people within the community to grow. The things that I like most about ConnectVA are that you can post your events and what your organization is doing within the community to give people a snapshot of how others are making changes that are bringing families and youth closer for a common good.
Anything else you would like to share? We may be a small nonprofit, but we have a big vision to see people’s lives change around the country.