Renee Harley

Hear Me Roar

ReneeHarley 1223

December 2023 Issue
Photography by Cassidy Dunn Photography

Hometown: Varnville, SC
Current Town: Beaufort, SC

Career: Patient Access Service Department at Beaufort Memorial Hospital with over 30 years of experience in upper management and employee training and development.
Passion: Serving the community and leading by example. I am very passionate about my relationship with God, family, friends, my sorority sisters of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, INC, and my Diamond Sisters of IAMNOW Organization, LLC

Family: Married to Captain Shaun Harley (31 years). Three children: DeAndrea Leshea, Essence Simone and Shaun Malik, one grandson: Ayden Malik Harley. Parents: Deacon Haiston & Bobbie Priester (Varnville, SC) , two brothers: Haiston, Jr. and Telley Priester.

Tell us how your passion to serve others started?
My passion to serve others started with my grandmother, Lucinda Moore. She was a loving women of God who opened her home to many children in the community. She lived in the city of Hampton, SC. There was a local park behind her house where all the kids came over for meals and snacks because they knew she would take care of them. She treated them all like her own. She taught me how to love unconditionally and share no matter if it was a lot or a little. I remember her making homemade quilts, fruit cakes, and pound and sour cream cakes for everyone—siblings, children, grandchildren, and church members.

Tell us some of the things you have done to help others:
I have fed and clothed the homeless, provided supplies to schools, collected basic essential items for shelters, donated monetary gifts to organizations, (usually anonymously). I like to be behind the scenes. I have volunteered at local after-school programs and served on the PTO. I have also partnered with different charitable organizations, including Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, Radiance Women’s Center, Habitat for Humanity, and Adopt-A-Highway.

What has been your favorite part of the journey?
My favorite part is putting smiles on people’s faces, opening my heart to love, and giving back without receiving anything in return. I believe God has blessed me so much, and as long as I keep Him first, He provides all my needs. When He can trust me with the little things and how well I take of care them, then He increases my territory. It has not always been easy, but my faith is bigger than my storms. I have a relationship with God through prayer.

What would you say to encourage others to get involved in giving back?
First, I would ask them to think about a time when they needed help—didn’t have enough for rent, utility bills, or resources to make a basic meal. It’s hard to encourage others to give back these days because society has taken advantage of givers—not using the funds for purpose, people scamming for money, but I definitely encourage people to give of their time when possible.

You especially have a heart for helping young girls. Tell us more:
Some young girls just want someone to hear them without being judged. Some of them are in situations where they don’t have a voice. Times have changed, and we as adults need to listen and not be too quick to talk. We need to know how to build relationships that will encourage communication, trust, and a sense of belonging. They really need guidance to get through day-to-day experiences, how to carry themselves as young ladies, how to write resumes, how to dress for interviews, how to interview for jobs, career planning, family planning, college tours, just to name a few. I want to help prepare them for the real world and help them to develop the life skills they need for the future.

In working with today’s youth, what are your top three pieces of advice for teens today?
1. Put God first and pray; 2. Be Respectful. Having manners will take one further than money; and 3.Set goals—stay focused and hold yourself accountable for your actions, because your actions have consequences.

If you could beg parents to change one thing in order to help
their children, what would it be?

I would beg parents to introduce their children to God, teach them how to pray and get involved in fellowship and church worship; to bring back and instill family values, such as respecting adults, being accountable, valuing people’s lives. I would also beg them to have family dinners at the table together and communicate without the presence of electronic devices.

You live your life on a mission, but recently you went to Jamaica to help in one of the schools. What is your biggest takeaway from that trip?
Children in America are so blessed and don’t even know it. They have choices on what pair of shoes to wear. In Jamaica, if you don’t have the right color shoes or uniform, you can’t attend school. We take so much for granted. We have nice school playgrounds—indoor sinks in the school restrooms! Sinks and toilets are not in the same location there. Some of the Jamaican children have never left their township. They only hear about America, and to see how their eyes lit up to see me—an American—was amazing.

Who has been the most influential person(s) in your life to help you achieve
your goals and stay on track?
My parents! They sacrificed so much so my brothers and I could have great lives. We all had the opportunity to attend college. I was able to attend the University of South Carolina and earn a BS in Management, then went back to earn my MBA in human resources. I am on the Board of Directors for Hopeful Horizons, a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, INC, and a member of IAMNOW Organization, LLC.

What do you do for fun?
I love going to church and fellowship with family and friends. I also love to travel, go to football games, men and women’s basketball games, track and field events, and swimming/diving events, I enjoy sports! I love the beach, too, and waterfalls, reading, and shopping,

What are currently “ROARING” about?
Enjoying life! I’m so grateful for the life I have, and I don’t take things for granted. Life is too short not to live. It’s ok to love yourself and spend time on self-care. I have God’s peace in my heart. What is delayed is not denied, and it’s all in God’s timing.