Sometimes the greatest challenges can lead to the fulfillment of dreams
Vallery Mitchell – or Vee as she is called – only 27, inspired by her own battles, has devoted her life to helping youths in foster care with aspirations she vividly recalls having had herself. The tool she uses to do this is volleyball and her nonprofit organization Fostering Dreams Dallas.
“Fostering Dreams Dallas originally started as Volley for the Children in 2015 when I was a sophomore attending Midwestern State University. I combined my passion for volleyball and helping the foster care community by hosting charity volleyball tournaments that helped raise funds and donated items for the Children’s Aid Society of Wichita Falls,” Vee recalled. “They housed children seeking emergency shelter in the community that are also foster youth.”
Developing A Stronger Missions
Vee was able to successfully raise over $1,000 and a surplus of items in one of the biggest donations they had ever seen. As time went on and she graduated college, the mission expanded, and she realized what she had was bigger than a fundraiser volleyball tournament once a year. This led her to changing the name and developing a stronger mission.
“Fostering dreams and supporting the children, while sponsoring their dreams!” she explained excitedly. “In April of 2018, we revealed our new name, location, and look and began serving more children as well.”
Vee and Fostering Dreams Dallas are based out of DeSoto, where she was raised. An upbringing that began with its own major challenges.
Vee’s life began with her being taken from her biological mother at birth due to testing positive for drugs and fetal alcohol syndrome. She spent time in the newborn intensive care unit before being placed in a foster home. Doctors were genuinely concerned she would not survive, but she did.
Serving From A Place of Understanding
After spending five years in foster care, Vee was adopted by the Mitchells, her forever family. She became one of North Texas’ most outstanding high school and college volleyball players at Canterbury Episcopal College Preparatory, leading them to a pair of state titles, followed by a college career that started at Angelo State University for a year before transferring to Midwestern State.
“I believe that my own experience in the foster care system has directly impacted the services and events that we now provide to children in the foster care system,” she said. “I am serving them from a place in which I understand their situation, because it used to be me, and not from a place where it’s an outsider looking in.”
It was there, in Wichita Falls, that Vee decided her career was to help youngsters chase their dreams. She worked as a full-time detention officer at the Wichita County Jail throughout her junior year of college.
Once graduated, she began her career with Child Protective Services, where she has been promoted five times in four years.
Vee also knows what it is like to battle back from severe physical challenges. In February of 2016 she suffered a second major knee injury. Still, she walked across the stage on crutches to receive her criminal justice degree. She has since undergone two more knee surgeries, each time bouncing back strong and sending a message.
“Each surgery is harder to recover from than the previous one. I am a fighter, as I have been fighting since I came into this world, and I refuse to settle. I fight to reach my goals without letting anything get in the way,” she said.
While major decisions were made to move forward with Fostering Dreams in 2018, such projects take time to reach fruition. Therefore, it was not officially launched until October of 2020. That’s right, smack dab in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. No other challenge had ever held her back, and, in fact, she used the moment to her advantage.
Motivated By Challenges
“Launching during the pandemic allowed me the baby steps and time needed to be successful when launching a company instead of having to rush. Every plan was able to be carefully executed and thought out,” she said. “I created multi-year plans, and now that all of the companies are thriving, I am not scrambling trying to plan, and I am simply executing a plan already made.”
Yep, she said companies. Under her Fostering Dreams Dallas umbrella are the Fostering Dreams Foundation, the Fostering Dreams Volleyball Club, the Fostering Dreams Printing & Apparel Company, and DreamTeam Fitness.
“Our mission is to foster the dreams of each person that we encounter no matter which entity it is. We help people realize what they thought was impossible is not, and it is only an interaction with us away from becoming reality for them,” Vee said.
And what’s a company that inspires without the owner displaying her own inspiration for the world to see.
Vee has a tattoo on her arm dedicated to Fostering Dreams
“Many people wonder what it is, and it is a mural dedicated to Fostering Dreams,” she said.
Jay Milton met Vee while working as a CPS Investigator in Dallas County. They became good friends, and she became a mentor and role model, he said.
“The impact she has made through her philanthropy is invaluable and is reflected through the joy, happiness and excitement seen in the children who come through her organization,” he said.
“She has encouraged me and countless others to spend time volunteering and making a positive impact. I’ve never seen so many young adults excited to give back and be a part of something larger than themselves.”
Christina Tatum, a friend since high school, praised Vee for what she says is helping create future leaders.
“It’s phenomenal how she’s been able to accomplish all these miraculous things and touched so many people,” Tatum said. “She’s always wanted to give back as well, and she’s been doing a great job of that. I can’t wait to see what else she does in the near future.”
Vee met her biological mother in 2017.
“I still process my emotions regarding her daily. However, I understand that everyone in this world is different, and I hold no resentment or anger towards her,” Vee said. “It took many years of processing to find my peace with her. However, I am at peace with the situation as I feel God saw me most fit to go through this.”
Vee also has four siblings. However, she was the only child removed from her mother. She has met them all, except one. She said they support each other to be the best they can be.
Just as she does with her company.