I love how children in the US are being raised with empathy and love. I believe the next generation will be one of our finest.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Val Oliveria. Born and raised in Brazil, Val has always been fascinated by international business. In 2009, she took a leap of faith and came to US to learn English. It was NOT easy, but through perseverance and her belief in the transformative power of education, Val was committed to never stop learning. She started Val’s Services because of her passion for cleaning and organizing. In Brazil, there is a specific word to describe a day dedicated for a thorough cleaning — “faxina.” Week is spring cleaning at Val’s Services because they love keeping things organized and neat. Her team undergoes 80 hours of vigorous training before they start working with clients, so they can properly execute a faxina-style cleaning in each client’s home.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I was born and raised in Recife, in the northeast of Brazil, also known as the “Little Venice of Brazil.” I was blessed to have a wonderful childhood. I had a supportive family and an inspiration to look up to. My father passed away when I was only one, and my mother, who was pregnant at the time, managed to raise three girls by herself. She owned a restaurant for 25 years, and I grew up watching and helping her. My sisters would go to school every morning, and I would follow my mom to the restaurant. I learned from a very young age that nothing comes easy or for free. In the afternoons, I would attend school. My mother taught me about customer service, money management and business etiquette. My mother is my hero, and she is the most hardworking women I will ever know. Later in life, I put myself through college and law school. I left my house early each morning and returned late at night. I was determined to succeed!
Was there a particular trigger point that made you emigrate to the US? Can you tell a story?
While working as an attorney in Brazil, the law firm I was employed at gave me an opportunity to lead a project in New York. I jumped at the opportunity, even although my family thought I would remain in Brazil forever. From New York I was able to work in Washington D.C., Pennsylvania and finally Seattle. In 2010, I decided I would make Chicago my permanent home.
Can you tell us the story of how you came to the USA? What was that experience like?
It was a little difficult at first. I had a thick Brazilian accent, and it was hard to understand the people around me. I also wasn’t prepared for the cold New York weather. Ultimately, I made the best of my new home. I wasn’t afraid to explore and tried to take in as many experiences as I could. Exploring new places, food and adventures helped me make new connections and friends.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped make the move more manageable? Can you share a story?
To be honest I didn’t have a mentor when I first moved. I leaned into my faith to find new friends and guidance. One of my earliest connections was with a woman at a congregation I attended weekly. She was a lovely woman who was there to encourage and motivate me as I settled into my new surroundings.
So how are things going today? How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
In every stage of your life you must be grateful, content and happy. I am passionate about giving back and helping others. My grandmother, who passed away a few years ago, brought such joy and guidance to my life. I honor her by continuing to help others.
I work hard to help people find new work opportunities or learn new skills. Through Val’s Services, I try to work with people who are just immigrating to the United States and don’t have a clear direction on a career path. I try to employ single mothers, mothers who require a dual income and women that may not have all the right skills to become a cleaner. I can teach them how to be successfully employed and to be proud of what they do. Outside of Val’s Services, I continue to volunteer at hospitals and senior homes. It brings me so much joy!
You have first-hand experience with the US immigration system. If you had the power, which three things would you change to improve the system?
As grateful as I am to be in this beautiful country, I also believe we should have laws in place to make sure each and every person coming here is committed. I feel like it should be a privilege to be here and not an open door. I would like to see a level of qualification for entering this country.
1 — I’d like to see a visa screening process.
2 — I’d like to see more employment opportunities for immigrants coming into the US.
3- I’d like to bring the deferred action for childhood arrivals program back — allowing young immigrants without status to apply for work authorization permits.
Can you share “5 keys to achieving the American dream” that others can learn from you? Please share a story or example for each.
(1) Faith — when you have faith you can tackle any obstacle.
(2) Belief — Believe in God. Knowing that you will be ok and make it because there is a higher sense of security and faith.
(3) Failure — It’s ok to be rejected or hear the word “no”. It can make you stronger and more determined.
(4) Be Open — If you are open to new opportunities or experiences you will receive what you set your mind to!
(5) Be Ready — When you are prepared, you will receive what you need. Enjoy the process and take a deep breath.
We know that the US needs improvement. But are there 3 things that make you optimistic about the US’s future?
- How children are being raised with empathy and love. I believe the next generation will be one of our finest.
- I’m hopeful gender equality will help everyone feel welcome and embraced.
- I’m hopeful doctors and scientists will find cures for the horrible illnesses and cancers in the world.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
Oprah Winfrey. She is a force to be reckoned with and is a powerful woman. I feel she can really change the world, and I’d love to sit down with her to enjoy a conversation!
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This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!