Changing Her Story
BUFFALO, NY - Zeneta Everhart ’11 is of the mindset that if you want to change the world, you need to change your story. That’s precisely what she did one year ago, when Everhart left a career in television news to become the East Side of Buffalo’s community representative for New York State Sen. Timothy Kennedy (63rd District).
"I really struggled with the idea of leaving news because I always wanted to be a journalist and tell people’s stories,” Everhart recalls. “But this was an opportunity for me to tell the story of the East Side – not through a camera lens – but through real action.”
As the East Side liaison, Everhart is charged with identifying the community’s greatest needs and then implements initiatives to serve those needs. In her short tenure, Everhart “developed a blueprint for a stronger East Side,” which helped garner support to bring Every Bottom Covered to the Delavan-Grider Community Center. The program provides underserved mothers and their children with monthly supplies of diapers. Everhart also launched the Single Moms Club, which invites mothers to get a night out by offering free childcare while they hear from speakers about health, educational and employment resources.
“These programs lend a hand to mothers who need it most and directly assists in fostering healthy children and families,” Everhart explains.
They’re programs Everhart wishes were available to her, when she was in need. Born and raised on the East Side, Everhart dropped out of high school to work fulltime and help her single mother support their family. She spent 11 years with Rite Aid Pharmacy in Buffalo and then Washington, D.C. When her marriage dissolved, Everhart moved back to Buffalo with her son. At age 28, this single mom decided to pursue the college degree she had previously put off.
“It was a really difficult time,” recalls Everhart. “My adviser, Dr. Barbara Irwin, didn’t know it but every Friday that I met with her, I went with the intention of dropping out of college. She was such a strong supporter of my work, though, that I came back every Monday.”
Everhart’s talent landed her a full-time job as a multi-media specialist at Spectrum News straight out of Canisius. Within two years, she came up through the ranks to become a producer. Everhart was doing exactly what she always wanted to do. Or so she thought.
Having grown up on the East Side, Everhart felt impassioned to report on the hardships people there face in order to promote change. The stories she pitched, however, weren’t often selected. “That’s the nature of the beast,” she explains.
So to help change her community, Everhart accepted her current position with Senator Kennedy.
“When you come from the neighborhood that I did and reach a position that enables you to give back and make a difference for people most in need, “ she says, “it’s rewarding on a level I never thought I would experience.”