December 2013’s Portrait of a Lady is 23-year-old Veronica Iris Ojeda.
“At times, the loudest cry is the one we do not hear, but the one we see in actions and patterns”.
Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Veronica did not have the easiest childhood growing up. She faced poverty, abuse, rejection, truancy, rape, drugs and alcohol abuse living in a rough community…but always dreamed of a brighter future for herself and others. Veronica started to erase the label of “troubled teen” when she became a youth leader at age 18. Nearly five years later she started a non-profit organization,Young Voices Silent Cry Inc (YVSC).
Veronica and YVSC are changing the lives of at-risk youth in her community through partnerships with local Florida shelters. They target young people ages 10-18 years old in their most vulnerable time to foster a positive change. Through testimony and journaling they encourage the youth to express themselves, giving them an outlet for their troubles. Goal setting and visualizing what they want out of life are also key elements of YVSC’s self-empowerment workshops. By providing resources and leading by example, Veronica and Young Voices Silent Cry are making an impact.
Currently, Veronica is an E4 in the United States Air force as a combat trucker and working in hospitality management. Staying true to her mission, she is studying business and accounting at Valencia College to one day be able to open a community center for youth.
Ms. Ojeda loves singing, modeling, cooking, dancing, painting, and spoken word poetry. She also enjoys staying fit by boxing in her free time and was even on her high school’s wrestling team.
Veronica is currently holding open mics to fundraise for her nonprofit. For more information about “Young Voices Silent Cry” visithttp://www.yvsilentcry.org/.
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By Vivian Adaobi Nweze