AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– You’ve probably seen the “V” billboard around town… V for Venus Morris Griffin, an Augusta real estate mogul. But the mother of seven’s journey to success began long before she became an award winning real estate agent.
“I had a very difficult childhood,” Venus said. “Watched my mother go in and out of rehabs and she went to jail a few times as well and my brother was sentenced to maximum security prison. So I had a very tough childhood.”
And in 2011, her then- husband was sentenced to 45 years in prison.
“My first marriage I was married close to 20 years. My husband went to prison and left me with six children ranging from one to 15 years old at the time,” Venus said. “It was just hard.”
But Venus began rebuilding her life. Today, she’s at the top of the local real estate world.
“When my children’s father went to prison, I was flat broke, didn’t know how I was going to take care of them and I promised God when I got through this, I would help other people going through adversity see that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” Venus said.
In her life, education was the light at the end of the tunnel, and she’s sharing that with children of incarcerated parents through the Venus Morris Griffin Scholarship Fund.
“I knew that if I could just figure out how to get to college that I could make a different life for myself,” Venus said. “And that’s what I did. I went to college and worked two jobs and put myself through and it just shows you a whole different world that’s out there and a whole different mindset.”
In her book “Validated” which comes out later this year, Venus tells her story of beating the odds. She travels the country for speaking engagements, and half of all proceeds go to the Venus Morris Griffin Scholarship Fund… her end of the promise she made to God.
Venus is giving away a $10 thousand scholarship to the child of an incarcerated parent, and to apply, they just need to write a letter.
“I just want something heartfelt. I want to know what happened to their parent, why they’re in prison, how it has impacted them, and then what they’re going to do to make a difference. That’s all,” Venus said. “I’m not going to look at their grades. I just want someone who was like me as a child who struggled, who really had nothing, who felt despair. I want them to know that there’s a way out, and education is it.”
The $10 thousand scholarship search is nationwide and applications are open until November 1.
“On November 30th, my children will announce the winner,” Venus said. “Their father is still incarcerated, and I want them to see other kids who have gone through similar challenges. I want them to be able to give back and make a difference.”
Venus says she plans to mentor the recipient and she hopes to grow her scholarship fund to support multiple students.