We had the good fortune of connecting with Serena Valentine and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Serena, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I wanted to find a way to help people that would greatly impact lives and help others to succeed. This came out of my own challenges…..my own health challenges. I have been living with Type 2 Diabetes for almost 18 yrs now. Most of my health challenges derive from a lack of knowledge & understanding of the illness that I was living with. After what seemed like walking in the dark trying to find my way to a healthier lifestyle and experiencing some complications from diabetes, I discovered that this common, yet detrimental illness could be managed effectively, if the patient is equipped with the right tools to succeed. Diabetes Education became my focus and I wanted to gift this information to the people who most likely will not get access to it. Health education is the foundation for the beginning of a wonderful opportunity to help others navigate through some of the toughest journeys of their lives. This is how the nonprofit organization, CORE Initiative was born.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Well, I’m not sure what sets me apart from other community leaders because we all have a passion for what we do and how we do it. I can just say that I truly love what we do and the people we serve. I’m most excited about expanding our reach from local to global. The pandemic has honestly given us some other options that we had not previously thought of before. I participate and am a part of a global initiative called Cities Changing Diabetes under Novo Nordisk. and am currently on the Cities Changing Diabetes-Houston Core Team. I began volunteering in a few initiatives that were operating & thriving well in Houston, TX. These initiatives include, the Faith & Diabetes Initiative, MyDiabetesHQ & the Houston Diabetes Peer Support Program, of which I am the Project Lead. I had many challenges with my health while trying to help others along in their journeys. Dealing with Diabetic Neuropathy, Diabetic Retinopathy in both eyes leading to blindness and a host of other health problems connected to diabetes, this journey has been everything but easy. To keep me going, I had my faith and my son. Being a single mother has its own set of challenges, but being a single mother to a child with special needs presents new challenges and blessings at the same time. I have a 12 yr old son who has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ASD is the technical term for it, but I don’t like to call it a disorder…..it is simply a totally different perspective of the world and everyone in it. Honestly, my son and I help each other and he has taught me more than he knows about life. He has certainly been my motivation to push forward even when I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it. I always wanted him to see that if Mommy can do it with difficult circumstances, then he can certainly do it with the challenges that he has. Even though our challenges are not the same, the message is the same…….YOU CAN DO IT ANYWAY!!!
I want people to know that no matter what journey you’re on, if you’re striving for better in you life and the lives of others, there will definitely be challenges. However, the perspective that you have while going through it all can make a significant difference in how it all turns out. If you feel a tug in a certain direction or path in you life, follow it and don’t let go of it no matter what.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
You’re in good company if you can’t see it happening yet, but can feel it coming and know that it’s existence is inevitable because you strongly believe that it has already manifested in time…..it’s just waiting for you to catch up.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Honestly, I work a lot and I actually need someone to show me around town. When I was younger, I had my fun, but when I had a child that needed my full attention and started dealing with blindness, most of that fun stopped and I began to focus on him & the work that was in my hands to do to take my mind off of my challenges. With that being said, I know for a fact that Houston, TX is known for it’s diversity of people & cultures. I really love museums ❤️. The museum district here is magnificent! My favorite museum is the Museum of Natural Sciences. Other museums that people must visit would be the Buffalo Soldiers Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, The National Museum of African American History and Culture and others. Also, a great place to visit would be the San Jacinto Battle Monument & Museum.
Finally, I love love love LOVE being by the water. Just listening to moving water relaxes me. Right outside of Houston, I loved going to Sylvan Beach and I love to visit Galveston beaches sometimes just to get away.
And the food! I still would like to take a food tour here so that I could try some new things. Being careful with my healthy eating, it doesn’t hurt to occasionally “dibble & dabble” in some tasty treats.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
If I begin to name people, I may forget someone, so I’ll just say that no one succeeds alone and can do nothing by him/herself. What’s inside of a person, will greatly impact what comes out. I thank God for being a significant part of my life and I absolutely can do NOTHING without Him.
***Special thanks to Ms. Evelyn Hill for the recommendation…..my Diabetes Partner for life ❤️