Why she's interesting ... This fall Thomas-Bey was one of 17 people in the United States to be honored at the National Child Care Provider awards ceremony in Washington D.C. The nod recognized the 32 years she has served Cleveland's youth as a caregiver, teacher and role model.
Open house ... Thomas-Bey opens her Cleveland home as a Cuyahoga County Type B child care center, which means she can care for as many as six children at a time. Her business has always been based on word-of-mouth referrals.
Motherly advice ... "Learn to think for yourself. You don't need a man to define who you are. You don't need a bunch of friends to define who you are."
Important lessons ... Young boys can play with dolls, too. "It teaches them to care and be gentle. It teaches them to respect the baby as a human being." She shows them how to resolve conflict through words instead of being physical — "how to talk to people, not at people."
Life coach ... Thomas-Bey sees herself as a guiding light, a beacon or a harbor. She helps find homes for the homeless. She helps young mothers look for jobs and acquire the training they need to keep jobs. She has even opened her home to young mothers who have needed a place to stay to "get their heads together."
A way of life ... Growing up, Thomas-Bey was accustomed to a house full of people in need. "It was a long time before I realized they weren't all related to me. [My mother] always took people in and helped people."
Lasting impressions ... Thomas-Bey hopes her legacy is to teach people they can cross whatever hurdles they face. "My mission statement is 'Don't quit.' But the first two letters of don't are 'do' and the last two letters of quit are 'it.' So don't quit, do it."