Tag Archive: News


It’s a Rebirth

Hello my friends,

We have moved! This blog is now at http://corvedacosta.com

I am so excited about it. In a few days, all the readers will be redirected from this site (wordpress.com) to the official Corve DaCosta Blog at http://corvedacosta.com

Hope you will join me. See you there.

Could you do me a favor please? If I appear in your blog roll could you edit the link to say http://corvedacosta.com

That would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

What is customer service?

Really, what is customer service? Because I am getting to think some companies do not understand the concept and can’t deliver it. An easy definition of customer service is treating your customer well. Ahhh, yes we can agree with that but just treating your customers well is not good enough. We need companies to go beyond treating their customers well.

Customer service in 2010 is a function of how well an organization is able to constantly and consistently exceed the needs of the customer. If a business today is not able to compete on customer service delivery then it makes no sense entering the business world. The company would have missed the point and focus of what companies should deliver to their customers. Firms today display on huge scrolls their mission statements and vision statements in their establishments. They express how wonderful the customer is but somehow their delivery does not match up with the words.

On Wednesday March 3, 2010, my friend purchased two slices of cakes from Pastry Passions. They have outlets in Manor Park and Liguanea, all located in Kingston, Jamaica. Later on, I opened the package, everything looks presentable, glanced a bit; it looked good so I began to partake. After eating two pieces I noticed that there was plastic below the icing. I thought to myself “this isn’t right?” I have never purchased a cake and seen plastic below the icing. After some investigations, I learnt that they use the plastic to retain the moisture. It is used for cakes like black forests – the one we bought. Clearly the individual who applied the icing forgot to take off the plastic.

I recognized then that this must have been a genuine mistake. I can’t fathom a pastry outlet of the repute like Pastry Passions making this mistake.

In a situation like this you either accept the mistake and the disservice as normal or you report the situation. It is sad that I was willing to condone and accept this mediocre service delivery from a company when you have paid a nice chunk for a slice of cake. Many customers share this profile though. When something in the service delivery goes wrong they accept the wrong actions by the company as normal when it is not. We need to reach a level where actions like these don’t go unreported. We were so lackadaisical about it that I was able to convince my friend to eat the cake.

However, he decided to call Pastry Passions to report the case so that they were aware of the matter and that no one would be harmed. It would be sad and a bad tale to have a child swallow a piece of that plastic on the cake.

During the conversation, the representative from the company becomes irate. Not over the fact that this incident could have happened at Pastry Passions but was angry that the person reporting the matter had an attitude. This is a blatant violation and a health risk that could bring the store closed and you are giving the customer an attitude. I was upset because I expected better from Pastry Passions. They are all over the Jamaican media telling how good their cakes are blah blah blah. Truth be told, they aren’t that good. Even their presentation sucks because the cakes on display are messed up, the icing does not hold up. So when people can see flaws in your product and still have the guts to handle it and purchase your goods, giving an attitude should be the last thing on your mind. To bring everything home, honey, this was not a normal entry level employee dishing the attitude and insolent behaviour this is from one of the managers.

And that is the saddest part of the story. That a manager, who we will assume should know better, could have done this.

The night got better though. The cakes were returned. While in the Manor Park outlet of Pastry Passions the other manager stormed in, was angry that this situation all had happened. She apologized and it was accepted.

Customer service in Jamaica is at its lowest point. I think we have low regards for customers because as a people we have no respect for people. There are a few good people left. I wrote a blog post months ago that spoke about this topic. In it I shared great experiences I had, so I know great customer service delivery can be reached. It is not hard, it is not a stretch out of our imagination. We don’t have to wait until we reach on an airplane to enjoy it. Customer service should be like breathing, it’s that easy.

When I left school I was employed with the marketing firm and through another private sector firm was offering free customer service training. You need to read that again, free customer service training for their staff. All I had to do was to call up the companies and share the good news of free customer service with them and ask if they were interested. Would you believe that some companies turned the offer down? This training was not mediocre customer service training. They were getting training materials that they could keep all for free. I had managers on the telephone attempting to convince me that their staff does not need customer service training. I also want to share that the training sessions I did companies were surprised of the quality, the technique I used and some expressed I should continue. I am passionate about customer service. Three companies can be selling the same thing but what makes you stand out is how you treat your customers when they walk through your doors.

Do you say “May I help you?” in a dry tone, or

You walk over with a smile and say “Good morning, how are you?” (Wait for a response)

“I see you’re looking at jeans pants, what size are you looking for?”

I should not be shopping and screaming on top of my lungs “HELP”.

Customer service is something you either have it or you don’t. If you don’t have it, pray that you’ll get it. Because we are at a stage where if you ignore it, another company might steal your idea and do a better job at it. Do you have it? Customer service is history, it is in the past. Today, as customers we seek customer empathy. If the manager on the phone, got apologetic and really expressed his dissatisfaction with what his company did we would feel better to consume there again. With the way he handled the situation I am not sure I want to look through their panes anymore. Customer empathy is showing your customer how much you care about them. Because they would have cared a lot before to have reported how bad they feel.

Tips on providing great customer service/empathy

  1. Do not take criticism personally.
  2. Listen to the customer.
  3. Acknowledge that your company did something wrong
  4. If it is the company’s fault fix it.
  5. Do everything with a calm voice, mixed with a smile. It will go a far way.
  6. Never forget to make it up to the customer. Provide free service/gifts, because you want to retain this person.

I want to express Thanks to all the bloggers and readers who click on this blog and have a good read each time. Thanks to all the bloggers who decided to bestow on me these awards.

The Best Blog Award from Pamela. Her blog is at Life – Day and Night

Forever Friends Award from Sandra. Her blog is at Sandra’s World.

The final award comes from Pat over at Pat’s Letters God Inspired .

To help us celebrate we have Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance. I love this song.

Thanks, Merci, Gracias.

***I must apologize to all my friends who have Blogspot blogs. I am having a problem leaving my thoughts on your blog. I am trying to solve it. I have not forgotten you at all.

My past weekend in Kingston, Jamaica was by far the best or one of the best I have ever had. In part because I was so busy. There is always some activity going on to entertain people here. One of my favourite places to eat out in Kingston is Jamaica Pegasus and they are up to date with Social Media. They tweet a lot and I follow them. Check out their Twitter Page. They had a Jazz Competition where they invited their followers on twitter to take a photo that signified Jazz. Interestingly, I won and instead of the two tickets, we got four. The winning photo is below.

The Winning Photo by Craig Bloomfield

Event: Jazz in the Gardens – Organs and Vocals in Harmony

MC: Michael Cuffe

Featuring: Dean Fraser, Robbie Lyn, Keisha Patterson, Desi Jones (drums), Diana Rutherford, Glen Browne, Dalton Browne, Ronald Buchanan and Lloyd Denton.

Celebrating ten years, the staging of Jazz in the Gardens at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in association with Capital and Credit Financial Group Limited was a huge success. With a cold front and chilly weather patrons were on time to relish and dance to the good music emanating from the stage.

To kick things off Diana Rutherford was amazing in her set, belting songs that Jazz lovers appreciated. She impressed many with her soulful voice and had many eating out of her hands, singing every line. She was charming throughout. After her performance, the emcee Michael Cuffe invited her back onstage for a second applause. She is married to a French national who resides in Jamaica. Of course, she said a few sentences in French which the audience did not understand but it sounded good.

Continuing an evening with lovely music, Dean Fraser, Robbie Lyn and Desi Jones lit up the stage with their set. The night was cold but you ignored you were outside and continued rocking to every beat they played on stage. I listened to jazz music all day Sunday before attending the show. I was surprised that they used an organ in their set. Normally they play the traditional piano, this was different. It worked though, it sounded very clean. Many of the ladies who came inappropriately dressed, based on the unexpected shift to the cold weather did not complain much. I guess the music had their full attention.

After the first half of the show, Jazz in the Gardens had an intermission which allowed the patrons to partake in the hors d’oeuvres which was lovely apart from the extra spicy chicken – it’s still hot :). Surprise guest artiste of the night Taurus Riley who flew in on the night sang to Nancy McLean (employee of Jamaica Pegasus) in honour of her birthday. This was well received and had the audience participating. Even more, a segment was dedicated to patrons who were celebrating/celebrated birthdays and anniversaries. They were feted to cake and drink which I am sure was good.

For the second half of the show Keisha Patterson took the night away. Belting out many songs, she was incredible. She performed Jazz Standard songs which had the audience singing.

I love Jazz music because of its rhythm and how smooth it flows. There was this gentleman sitting in front of me who was having a great night. He would hold his hands to his chest in awe as the music played. He gave a thunderous applause after each performance. Not to be outdone, there was a lady behind me who seemed to have known all the songs, even if they played the instrumental. Overall the night was amazing. I think I would be correct to say everyone got their monies worth – Jazz in the Gardens was ecstatic.

During the show they promoted the next staging of Jazz in the Gardens which will be on April 25, 2010. Even if I am not privileged to have a free ticket I will pay to experience an event like this. It felt like paradise. The event hit the right jazz notes to make you want to be there. From a marketing perspective I think the sponsors could have branded the location better. They must have known the night would have been windy and that should have given them ideas as to where they could have strategically placed their branding materials. They were out of sight; this means they are out of mind too. From a business point of view it would have been good to see them. It was also sad to have not seen more young adults there experiencing the good music. They are being fed mediocre styles of music so much that they have begun to think that popular music in Jamaica is all there is. It would have been heart warming to see more young adults at Jazz in the Gardens. We will get their though.

I do think for the April Staging that there should be a designated area for patrons to dance. On Sunday night, I saw patrons acting ‘wildly’ in their seats, they wanted to dance. I would have loved to see an area where persons could dance and really enjoy themselves.

While I am experiencing all of this, the journalist in me could not be contained and so I got two interviews. One is with Diana Rutherford and a gentleman called Patrick. If there is a patron who totally enjoyed it more than everyone present it would definitely be Patrick. The emotions he showed during the show, that will make me remember him.

Photos & Video

Diana Rutherford on stage

Hors D'oeuvres

My Interview with Diana Rutherford

I received an invitation from a friend inviting me to the Edna Manley School of Dance Faculty in Concert titled “Physical Labrish…Reflections of the Moving Mind”.

For my international readers the word ‘labrish’ in the Jamaican culture means to gossip or to chitchat.

When I received the invitation I made up my mind in earnest to attend this concert. One, I have not been to many and since I am free why not? That same evening I had a group meeting for my Supervisory Management course which was near the dance school. I was late because of my group meeting but I could not miss it. I literally ran to the venue, paid the entry fee and walked right in, head upright as if I were early.

Looking back, I have been to a concert at Edna Manle before but it was in a different studio. The Dennis Scott Studio the venue for the concert was exquisite. I liked the interior, very modern. It made their presentation look credible. They utilised a huge projector and lighting to enhance their routines, which was pleasing to the eye. I will not continue to describe the aesthetic appeal but just to say, the stage without the dancers was good.

The faculty concert was dedicated to the late Professor the Honourable Rex Nettleford, O.M., O.C.C., F.I.J., who has been integral to the dance community in Jamaica and the Caribbean region. He was a Jamaican Scholar, choreographer and Vice-Chancellor Emeritus at the University of the West Indies. In 1963 he founded the National Dance Theatre Company of Jamaica, a respected ensemble which he led until he passed away.

Of the pieces I saw I could not decide on a favourite. I loved all of them. They each had something that you could connect with and appreciate.

To begin with the show had to be good. The dancers are lecturers in their field at the dance institution. How can they fail?

One of my favourites of the night was a piece entitled “Today and Tomorrow” choreographed by Arsenio Andrade-Calderon. It was very short but essentially he prepared for the rain. He sat on stage on a chair with his umbrella while dancers walked on stage opening water bottles one by one and pouring the liquid on his umbrella. It was a very reflective piece. After the pouring of the water which signified the rain he then closed the umbrella and walked out signalling the rain had ended – tomorrow.

I thought the piece could have been better presented if better use of the lighting was done. To signal the clouds and the initial preparations for the rain, the set could have been dark while brighter lights could signal the tomorrow which came after the dark moments. However the interpretation, the point was made.

The concert ended with everyone laughing. The final piece entitled”Of Tensions and Dilemma” brought to life through dance the struggles the lecturers encounter in their normal day-to-day activities as dance facilitators. The choreography began with teachers in traffic and the drama that comes with that – horrible bus drivers, persons walking on the streets etc. If you take public transportation you can appreciate it but more so Jamaican public transportation. The piece was hilarious, it included the struggles teachers go through with administration issues and student lackadaisical attitudes to education.

I could not end without telling you about my favourite Jamaican dancer, Neila Ebanks. She danced in many pieces at the concert but the two I enjoyed her in were entitled “The Edging of Sister Mitzie Margeret” and “Their work song…a moving musical soundtrack for making it through”. The Edging of Sister Mitzie Margeret was an excellent piece in terms of its production and execution. It began with Neila Ebanks on a video presentation and her obsessive compulsive behaviour to edgings/lines. The video presentation showed her entering the dance studio which was cut to show her continue her compulsive behaviour on stage. This piece showed some thought went on into its production. Leaving the stage the video presentation continued with her leaving the studio and Sister Mitzie Margeret continuing her behaviour on the outside (on video).

Based on the attendee’s reactions the concert was well received. The concert ran for the full weekend. I was their on the final night – Sunday and it was almost full house. Only some seats were empty (limited) which I think the organizers can take some compliments. I will be attending more Dance Concerts here – the quality is good.

However, I think the dancers here should take care of themselves. Jamaica has a culture where we think fat is attractive and in terms of dancing, the shapes and lines are so important that leading a healthy lifestyle is imperative to the visual senses. As I mentioned before I was not there for the beginning of the show and was aware of any states rules. I took my camera to take pictures. During the show I noticed no one was taking photos apart from the official media team. I did not want to be reprimanded so I did not.  However, I snapped a private camera phone shot and after that I noticed the persons beside me started to tape the show. This was at the end. After that, I took out my digital camera to snap the photos you see below. I am happy I did. The teachers gave a good show. I am happy the students have good role models to follow.

Faculty Members

Thank you!

This blog has officially received 40,000 hits from YOU, and YOU and YOU.

That song is dedicated to all the new viewers to this blog and all the lovely bloggers that visit this site on a regular basis. Welcome to the blog!

This blog is growing and I am excited about that. Moving on, I will be Guest Blogging on other sites officially. My first post on Young Brothas will be on March 1, 2010. We have agreed for me to officially write for that blog, once I submit entries. I am happy for the opportunity and do not worry whatever is on that site will be provided here.

Can someone say Celebration!

The final song is from The Oprah Show which featured Celine Dion and The Canadian Tenors. A little background. Both are from Canada and The Canadian Tenors have not met Celine Dion. So Oprah ‘surprise style’ she invited the male group and invited them under the premise that they were there because they were rising talents (although they are). The big surprise, watch and see. I love this.

Each time you click on this blog and some bloggers may leave a comment – I am surprised. The expression on their faces when Celine Dion walks out is the same moment I share, even now.

Thanks a million.

What is Money

It’s the root of all evil

It pays the bills,

It may heal your ills

And bring you thrills.

According to Wikipedia, money is anything that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts. For everyone, we interpret and treat money differently. Whether it is the abundance of wealth or the lack thereof there is a certain level of importance which we all seem to place on the precious commodity. From the Forbes list to the United Nations Poorest Countries list we seem to rank everything from those who do not have it to those who have it and may waste it. We live in a world where it seems to have a voice you should have cash to care.

If you grew up in an environment where everything is lavish, fabulous and expensive, you will view money differently from those who did not. It is highly probable that when you enter a certain level of wealth your expenses tend to be higher than others. It is true because you have to keep up with the lifestyle you live. One at this rank does not imagine the day when they will have nothing. Therefore, they will invest in portfolios, real estate and make other investments to maintain their wealth. The responsibilities that come with the lifestyle are also important. Case in point – Casey Johnson. Who knew someone could be kicked to the curb from a family who seemed to have everything? It seems more and more families with a vast amount of wealth are throwing out those family members who could appear to put the family’s wealth in jeopardy. Those who are rich sometimes are forced to continue that legacy to maintain their stature. On the contrary, persons who are rich can mismanage their wealth and become poor. Fantasia, the American Idol winner recently on Oprah opened up about her fall from grace. After buying her home and settling in, she had problems keep it. Her home fell into foreclosure and at one point she was unable to buy a pizza, her card failed. Money can be easy come and easy go. It takes proper financial management and financial sense to keep it.

For those who grew up in a poor background, they understand the importance of money. For many, money is the way out of poverty and they will place all their focus on avenues that could get them out of that state. Whether it is a talent, education or an illegal activity, poor people in the right environment can charter a new course out of poverty. We have seen numerous stories of people who did not have it but with the right attitude and approach they were able to live a better life. Oprah, Jay Z, and Hilary Swank just to name a few have gone from the lowest echelon to some of the richest people in our world.

However, people who are poor see money differently. People who are poor or who are in destitute positions do not see the importance of saving for the future and having investment accounts. Give someone who is poor a bank card with funds that could keep them for a month and see how fast that money goes. They tend to see money as short term, so they spend it to make them content in the moment. While there are others that if you give them the same amount they wouldn’t spend most of it because they understand the position they are in and have an idea of where they would like to be.

Money today is perceived based on cultural attitudes as well. In our world today, young people are materialistic. We tend to focus on what is in, the latest Bling and fashions. The entertainment industry is pushing this attitude of ‘you can have it all’ and at all costs.

Money and the abundance of it can last a lifetime if we understand the basic concepts. As human beings we need to live within our means and recognize that if we spend more than we earn we will be poor. No one wants to be poor; we want to be independent, strong and able to survive. With rising standards of living and costs going up, the worst thing that could happen to us is to lack needed funds. Money can be our way out of poverty but it can also lead to our own detriment.

It is significant that we inculcate cultures where we are not so highly materialistic but we begin to inspire people that can handle wealth without ruining their lives in the pursuit of it. Sure money is good and wonderful to have but the love of it could ruin our lives.

I wanted to watch this movie because of its biographical nature. I thought it would have been great, stellar, and an amazing movie. I should have watched this movie days ago but somehow I just got around to it.

Amelia Earhart

Hilary Swank as Amelia

Amelia Earhart born on July 4, 1897 was declared legally dead on January 5, 1939. She was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean and was a noted American aviation pioneer and author. All of what she accomplished was in the era of pre-feminism, the turn of the century. In the movie, she failed at one attempt to lift the plane off the runway because of some mechanical problems and the men who saw what happened laughed her to scorn with all the media coverage.

Half way in the movie I was disappointed. I did not know the movie would have turned out the way it did. There was no build up. The movie reminded me of Jamaican journalists who put together News Year in Review and begin in September. The movie hinted at her childhood and I will tell you what happened. All you see is Amelia in a field (country) looking up at an airplane in the sky and says “I will fly one day”. She went from that to being the commander and flying aircrafts across the world.

I am no movie critic but I would have loved to see Amelia’s training, a look at her childhood, or take it from where she graduated. The movie started with her flying all over the place and the recognition she received early on.

In the beginning George Putnam (Richard Gere) who plays her promoter and husband did a creditable job at his role. This is the second movie I am watching in recent times with Richard Gere and he is a fantastic actor. Read my Hachiko: A Dog’s Story post to view that review. Back to the movie – In the beginning, in the twinkling of an eye George Putname (Richard Gere) plants a huge kiss on Amelia Earhart (Hilary Swank). Again, no build up, no flirting, nothing to show he was interested but they got hitched and later got married.

Amelia Earhart in the movie continues to fly all over the place, breaking records and embarking on new frontiers. There is a total difference in the first half of the movie when compared to the second. I wished the first half was as fun and exciting as the second. The first half was not slow but everything just happened and that took away from the movie.

The challenges she faces as a woman is inspirational I would imagine for the female audience who would see this movie. All in all it is an inspiring movie. She grew up at a time when women were not allowed to do certain things. For her to be flying an airplane was new. I read her Biography online and her childhood was not poor. Her parents were established citizens in Kansas. Her dad was a judge and a banker. Of course she would have some ambition in life, seeing that everyone around her did well.

Amelia Earhart (Hilary Swank) and George Putname (Richard Gere)

The cinematography in the movie was good. The shots of her flying the aircraft – those experiences were great to see. I loved the casting for the movie. Hilary Swank looks just like Amelia Earhart, although that was expected, the resemblance was close. Did she get into the character? That’s another case.

With the publicity of Amelia Earhart, there must have been challenges. Of course men were attracted to her, but more than that it caused a strain on her relationship at one point. Her husband, very protective of her became insecure when a friend Gene Vidal (Ewan McGregor) started to show interest. Amelia’s husband found a love letter she received from him. It could have ruined their relationship but it didn’t.

Amelia Earhart is portrayed as tom boyish in the movie. While this does not suggest she was a lesbian, her frequent comments about the beauty of the women she encountered leave this question wide open. Her androgyny fits in perfectly with her image as a woman like no other. It is not surprising that Hilary Swank, an actress celebrated for her androgynous beauty and her award winning role in Boys Don’t Cry (the story of transsexual Tina Brandon aka. Brandon Tina), was cast as Amelia Earhart.

What the movie explores also is her success and her final flight where she went missing in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

I particularly liked the way the movie ended. It brought closure in some way mainly from the husband’s perspective.

Would I recommend it? Watch it if you want to see a diluted biography.

Pain on the Streets

On a bus going home from class, passing a church I overheard a couple arguing on the streets in busy Kingston, the capital. As the bus accelerated I heard the guy who turned out to be in his early twenties blurted an expletive to the younger female who he was talking to. His angry tone rang sirens in my head and as I stepped off the bus I ran around the corner to see what was going down. To tell the truth the journalist in me was at its highest and I literally ran until I was there. I took out my blackberry to record the final moments of the argument but because of the darkness I couldn’t. I hope the next blackberry model will have an embedded light to record in the dark. When I reached an area near this couple they continued to argue while the girl started to cry.

I love relationships. I love the stability and balance it offers for people who decide to share their lives with others. There is a glow that shines on those who share a bond. A glow so beautiful and loving that it makes onlookers jealous. Whether it is your soul mate or your best friend, a relationship with someone can make a friend’s life fulfilling.

Relationships are like living things, they go through stages and their own challenges. My friends can admit (I hope) that they have never heard me arguing with people. Writing this now a moment in time flashes across my mind where I totally went bizarre on my friend who had hurt me so bad. That is one in a million times that I can go out on someone. I do not like arguments with anyone. If I see a crises coming on I literally ignore it. If that is not possible I just zone out, if I can’t step away from your presence. I know this in particular is true and it comes from my childhood experiences. My father would have disagreements and his way of expressing his dissatisfaction or grievance would be to argue and think that would be satisfying or solving the situation. From back then I have not liked arguing with people. I think they are better ways to solve issues that affect each other and that involves sitting down like adults and speaking through issues and seeking the best solutions.

Can you imagine having to discuss disagreements on the streets? It is the most vulgar thing I can imagine someone doing. It is crude and shoddy because you are bringing your most private moments to the public arena and I do not want to be subjected to listen or see you pollute the environment with your antics. If I am not availing myself to discuss what is pertinent to you it means I am not ready to do so. It does not in any way give you the right to step in front of me on the street to make your point be known. Not only will I ignore you but I might act like I don’t know you.

Tips to deal with people who you have a disagreement with:

  1. Before you have a fit. Ask yourself if this is something to be upset about?
  2. If it is big enough and you have reasons to justify it. Attempt to have dialogue with the person about the issue.
  3. Speaking with the other individual does not include shouting, expletives, and offensive remarks and so on. Speak in a relaxed tone and air your issues.
  4. If a meeting is not forthcoming, and you genuinely need to speak with this person it may be time to have others intervene (close pals, professionals) to help you if forgetting this person is not an option.

Relationships die and you will have challenges. There is no way a face off on the street is the way to go about doing it. Sorry! Friendships and relationships will never go perfectly fine. You are two separate individuals, with two priorities, two different outlook on life and the aim is to make that one. If I am sure about one thing you will have mountains to climb with that diversity. But it can work. Next time you have a disagreement, count to ten and talk it through.

By Esperanza D.

Esperanza

A big thanks to Corve DaCosta who gave me the opportunity, through a blog contest, to be a guest blogger for a day.  I entered the contest with the hope of using it as a platform to creating just a little change, for the better, in this world.

As some of you may know from the HmmSweetSplendidWisdom blog I’m both a Social Work graduate student and a Social Justice activist.  Through my field practicum for school, I am working on HIV prevention and education, as well as HIV testing and counseling. I enjoy it a lot and plan on attending a conference this summer in New York that talks about issues surround HIV and women, in particular women of color.

I’m really excited about this, as my own passion is working with, and empowering women.  In addition, my interest in HIV prevention and education began when my uncle passed away from AIDS and I saw, firsthand, the stigma attached to it. I then knew that it wasn’t ok to treat others as anything less than equal.

Well, I came across a really needed website the other day I want to share with you. It’s called the “Pepsi Refresh Project” that gives $$ to grassroots projects led by real people and community members, like yourselves. Anyone is able to submit an idea that deals with giving back to the community in a way they find most productive or creative. In turn, it is posted online to be voted on by the public and the winner receives a lot of cash for their project. How cool is that? Here is the link if you wish to vote on current projects and find the sign up link to submit your own for the next round.http://www.refresheverything.com/index

What I plan to do is attend the HIV and Women Conference this summer and use my creative talents to come up with a great project proposal for the Pepsi Refresh Project. When this happens, I hope you will support my efforts through your vote. In turn, I hope you feel inspired to come up with a project of your own to submit to the site. Think about what communities or populations could use your support and where you feel your passion can make the most impact.