Zenobia Bey grew up in South Side Richmond and graduated from Huguenot High School. She had some bumps along the way, getting expelled from the Richmond Public Schools when she was in the eighth grade.
“That’s why I do what I do now, to get children to understand: You can’t be a product of your environment,” says the mentor and community advocate. “You can’t allow situations and circumstances to mold you, and if you do, you have to choose to be a better person.”
After serving as an Army cook in Germany, she started working at Bon Air Juvenile Correctional Facility in 2007 and supervised a group home.
Soon she founded Community 50/50 and started an afterschool program, Lyrics and Beats, on Mondays and Thursdays at 6PIC Innovation Center. It helps youths with resources for jobs, feeds them and teaches critical thinking skills while breaking down hip-hop lyrics. She holds another feeding in the Blackwell community, with sponsor Ms. Girlee’s restaurant, every third Thursday.
A basketball star in high school, Bey credits coaches and other mentors who helped her find her way, especially good friend Lorna Pinckney, who recently died.
“My motto is to live and love like Lorna did,” she says.