Valeria “Cherry” Clark

By Vivian Shipe

KNOXVILLE, TN — As she prepared to retire, Valeria Clark, or “Cherry”, as she has been known in the community for decades, looked around the city in which she worked and realized just how financially unprepared the young generation around her was. Clark has always been involved in the financial field in one role or another and what she saw really alarmed her. With a poverty rate of 42 percent in the Black community of Knoxville; Valeria Clark has stepped up to make a difference with a burning desire to see a change in the community in which she lives.

Kristen Torres

As she looked around the table at a those who had come to listen to her speaker Kristien Torres, Senior Marketing Director, for Pinnacle Elite, Clark spoke of the epiphany that occurred, creating the mission for the next stage of her life. “The reason I started this business is to empower young people because so many doors of opportunity are open to them that were not available to us years ago and they need to be prepared because a lot of life’s lessons are not taught in schools; namely how to grow money.”

Standing to the side, she listened as Torres explained to a room full of listening ears about financial realities such as the rule of 72, compound interest, and saving strategies to begin doing now. For Clark, it’s not just about working for right now; long-term thinking and planning is key. Clark went on to explain, “My generation, and generations before me, when we turned 18, the first thing we had to do is get a job. There are strategies that will help young parents help prepare their children for a head start in life.”

As the session began not only were young parents in the room, also present were members of other generations, eager to learn the lessons previously unavailable to them, so that they too, could be empowered for themselves and their families for generations to come.

Clark plans to hold training sessions like the one she presented at New Friendship Missionary Baptist Church all around the city. There is an old saying, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day – teach that man to fish and he can eat for a lifetime.”

Meet the teacher, Valeria Clark.