Monday, September 27, 2010

Pepsi: Final Thoughts on a Well-Fought Battle

Below is an email that Dionne got from a friend. It is appropriate for all of us who participated in voting for our causes in the Refresh Everything project.

Thank you all for your faith and hard work. We have been building on the momentum that we gained from the sacrifice and effort you put into the project, so even though we did not win the money ( battle) the war is still being fought.
The letter below is very revealing and I identify with all that is written. Please know that we have not now, nor will we ever, give up on the mission to free ourselves and others from the prison of the stigma surrounding HIV.

Dionne and I, as a result of the cohesion and clarity the campaign helped create, have been given the opportunity to represent our cause in arenas we may be more effective on a national level. Thank you for your continued prayers and support. Please continue to share your unmet needs to us so we can represent and convey them wherever possible.

We are honored to be a part of this soul group. There are some very exciting events being planned and coordinated for the coming months!!  We will keep you informed!! 

God loves you & so do I.

Good day, everyone!  I hope this note finds you enjoying this last official day of summer and preparing for a wonderful fall season. 

Over the past few weeks, many of you have written to ask when / whether I planned to publish a 'final update' about the outcome of our participation in Pepsi's 'Refresh the Gulf' grant challenge.  Honestly, I'd been waiting to send this update for two reasons.

First of all, as many of you noted, Pepsi's website was notoriously difficult to use, and I'm relatively certain that a number of you had problems actually registering your votes.  We were hoping that Pepsi might find some way to take that into consideration when calculating the final vote tallies.

Secondly, as many of you suspected, Pepsi's 'Refresh the Gulf' competition was plagued by a very large number of - what's the nicest way to say this? - 'voting irregularities' that, if addressed by Pepsi, would've drastically altered the outcome of the competition in both the $50K and $250K grant categories.  

Over the final two weeks of grant competition, we and multiple other organizations meticulously documented and reported these 'voting irregularities' to Pepsi.  We did everything we could to urge Pepsi to take decisive action against the organizations who were working to alter the outcome of the grant competition by engaging in proxy voting, 'unsportsmanlike conduct,' and other types of behavior specifically prohibited by Pepsi's terms of use. 

Unfortunately, despite multiple promises from the 'powers that be' at Pepsi that they were 'actively investigating' these issues, Pepsi ultimately opted to take no significant action. That was Pepsi's 'last word' on the issue, and in a grant competition of this type, the 'last word' of the corporate sponsor is law.

Thanks to these voting irregularities, I really don't know who actually won Pepsi's 'Refresh the Gulf' grant competition. In fact, nobody outside of Pepsi actually knows who *really* won their 'Refresh the Gulf' grants, as no one outside of Pepsi has access to the actual vote tallies, and Pepsi isn't  sharing this information with anyone. 

I can only tell you that, tomorrow, when Pepsi officially announces the recipients of their $250,000.00 'Refresh the Gulf' grants, one of the recipients will be a terrific organization that I genuinely respect and admire.  The other grant will go to an organization who received a $250,000.00 'Refresh Everything' grant from Pepsi earlier this year, who achieved their standing in the 'Refresh the Gulf' campaign directly as a result of a proxy voting scheme in which they knowingly and actively participated, and that - if the persons in charge of that organization are to be believed - were actually invited by Pepsi to apply for a second grant during Pepsi's 'Refresh the Gulf' campaign.

After working your hearts out for a month, I know many of you were disappointed to learn that Modest Needs would not be receiving the $250,000.00 'Refresh the Gulf' grant. I was too - for about five minutes.  And then, I started to consider all of the good that came out of our participation in this competition.

First and foremost, I'm proud of us - all of us - for the way we ran our grant campaign.  We did everything strictly 'by the book.'  We played by the rules, even when playing by the rules was hard.  We didn't enter into partnerships that would've given us tens of thousands of additional votes by proxy - a practice specifically prohibited by Pepsi.  And we didn't engage in the kinds of 'smear tactics' in which some other organizations unfortunately engaged throughout the grant competition. 

To me, the reputation that Modest Needs has earned over the years is worth a heck of a lot more than a quarter million dollars.  So even though we didn't win a $250,000.00 grant from Pepsi, we came away from this competition with our reputation for ethical behavior in tact.  As far as I'm concerned, that's something we can be proud of.  It's an unqualified 'win' for Modest Needs, and for those of you who support this work.

Secondly, our experience with Pepsi's 'Refresh the Gulf' campaign caused me - a lot of us, I think - to 're-think' the wisdom of participating in competitions of this type.   Initially, like many of you, I figured there wasn't any harm in submitting a grant proposal to Pepsi.  The worst thing that could happen would be that we simply wouldn't get the grant, right?


Now that we've actually participated in a grant competition of this type, we've learned that, in the immortal words of Han Solo, 'No reward is worth this!'  I'm all for additional funding, but this competition took much more time to manage than we ever imagined.  What's more, it required us to spend an entire month competing against our friends in the non-profit community and marketing Pepsi's products for them.

I think we can all agree that there are better, more effective ways to fundraise.  So while I'm not sorry we entered this competition, I can promise you that having done this once, we'll never do it again.  To avoid competitions of this type - that's important lesson we learned from participating in this competition, and you just can't underestimate the value of wisdom that comes from experience.

But best of all, participating in Pepsi's 'Refresh the Gulf' grant competition really brought the Modest Needs community together in ways I've haven't seen in a very long time.  I can't tell you how much it meant to all of us at Modest Needs to see so many of you become 'activists' for Modest Needs, to hear from you as you were voting, and - beset of all - to read the very kind comments all of you left about our work on Pepsi's website. Those comments, in fact, meant more to all of us than I could probably express.

And as for the daily reminders we sent out during our month-long grant campaign (thank you for tolerating those, by the way)?  Well, it turns out that they inspired some people to become new supporters of this work, brought former supporters of this work back to us, and encouraged some of you who already support Modest Needs regularly to do just a little more for those persons in need of our help during the month of August.

So, if nothing else, this grant competition had the result of pulling us together in pursuit of a common goal.  And you know what?  As a result, in the month of August - normally our slowest month of the year - we funded more requests for help than we were able to fund in June and July of 2010 combined.  And that, my friends, is truly a 'win' for all of us.

We may not have received a $250,000.00 grant from Pepsi, but we did have the opportunity to show the world our true colors in the way we handled the grant competition.  We learned some important lessons about the best uses of our limited time.  And best of all, we came together for common good and helped a lot of people in the process.

That kind of team work, our solidarity, is worth a lot more than $250,000.00.  It's the reason Modest Needs is so much more than 'just another charity.'

Again, thank you so very much for your support of our grant proposal in Pepsi's 'Refresh the Gulf' promotion, and, of course, for your support of Modest Needs.  I look forward to hearing from many of you soon, but in the meantime, enjoy the first days of fall, and above all, be well.

Warmest Personal Regards,

Dr. Keith P. Taylor
Chief Executive Officer
Modest Needs Foundation
'Small Change:  A World of Difference'
(212) 463-7042


If you believe in the power of human kindness to change lives, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to Modest Needs.

You can make an instant, secure contribution of ANY size in 60 seconds or less by visiting

Remember, the work we do at Modest Needs is funded exclusively through the generosity of persons just like you. Without your support, this work would not be possible.


Posted via email from Reggie Smith 770 by SocialNetGate

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


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Posted via email from Reggie Smith 770 by SocialNetGate

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Everybody Is Recovering From Something

I recently participated in the Recovery Day walk and rally here in Atlanta.  It was coordinated by my good friend "Liz" Thompson, director of Making A Way Housing, and many volunteers from the different service organizations and the Atlanta community.The planning seemed to go on for months (because it did), but the result was deemed a rousing success by all who were involved.

I had a great time interacting with the over 1100 people who came out to show their support and gratitude for the fact that there has been a transformation of behavior for themselves or a loved one who has acknowledged the devastating effect that a particular addiction has had on their life.  You see, recovery from the insidious, cunning and baffling addictive behaviors that have destroyed so many lives, is not something to be taken for granted.  In fact, it is still a miracle that many thought they would never experience in this lifetime.

Addictions are not something that we grow up aspiring to get caught in the grips of.  They sneak up on us veiled in the cloak of pleasure and escapism.  Let's face it...there is plenty to wwant to escape from in this world that we live in.  I grew up in the 60's & 70's in the southside of Jamaica Queens NY, during the time when our heroes were being assasinated both by character and literally.  There were race riots, wars, poverty, disease and despair...even in the "land of the free and the home of the brave".  That is not to mention the stunning availability of illegal drugs.  Of course, those things really have not changed that much in my lifetime, and they seem to be a staple of life on this planet.  It takes some doing to navigate our emotions and state of mind if our intent is to have "peace on earth".

I think that is ALL we ever really want - peace on earth that is.  Everything we do is in an attempt to find or create it.  We desperately chase after whatever person, place or thing that we think will make us feel better.  The longer we can have the experience of joy or serenity, even if it is artificial and temporary, the "happier" we seem to be.  That was my story, and as I have heard over the past 25 years of my recovery, it is a common theme for those who have found the utter futility of that path and have chosen (or resigned themselves) to a new life direction.

That direction is an inward journey that is often taken after paying the high cost of low living.  Pain and suffering seem to be the most common motivation for those who have discovered that joy is a by-product of spiritual enlightenment.  Even though sex, drugs, and immediate gratification felt good for a while, my inability to sustain that  state of being became much more painful than the pleasure that I derived from trying.  The things that I would do in order to try to sustain that feeling caused me more  and more shame, guilt, remorse and degradation.  Instead of evolving as a human having a spiritual experience, I seemed to be caught in a "living hell" where I could no longer control my actions in spite of my best thinking, and I considered myself a pretty intelligent fellow!

That seems to have been the plight of many (or all) of those who attended the Recovery Day event.  Moreover, I have heard people share variations on the same story all over the world!  We are the blessed ones, those of us who have survived the battlefield of life long enough to experience the miracle of recovery.  Many of us were ready to die.  Many of us were left for dead, or would have rather died than to continue living the way that we were.  Now, not only have we found a way to relieve the suffering of ourselves and others by changing the patterns of our ineffective behaviors, we have become productive members of society and are developing relationships with ourselves and a "higher power". 

The vibrations felt when so many "miracles" gather in one place seems to have an even deeper cleansing effect.  Our spirits are raised, giving us the energy needed to offset the opposite polar attraction that is pervasive on this plane as well.  Recovery, in my humble estimation, is actually the process of recovering a right relationship with our Creator.  It is a well defined process that has been successfully navigated, and regularly replicated by people all over the world.  It has been effective in laying the groundwork for the re-patterning of addictive behaviors of all kinds.  For me, it has inspired a discipline and insight into myself and others that now makes it possible for me to achieve my soul's true purpose.

Paradoxically, surrender is the first step in "winning" the WAR we are engaged in with the many addictions with which we presently battle.  Human nature seems to thrive on our desire to escape the reality of living on this plane.  Our souls know that this is not our true home, and its constant attraction is to be back at home with the Father.  Our minds and emotions are the anchors that tether us to the lower vibrations that dull our senses and make it harder for us to attach to the sound of the celestial music within.  That is the sound and light that provide the transportation for our soul to make the journey home, and "soul" intuitively remembers that, even after the eons of ages it has been trapped on this plane by mind and illusion.  This is our opportunity, though, to make the great escape, and to experience that heaven within.

It begins with recovery.  After we acknowledge our lack of power, we are then empowered.  When we do the introspection and look at our deeds and shortcomings, we are able to forgive ourselves and others.  By practicing prayer and meditation, we are able to experience the light and sound, and more clearly see the synchronicity of life.  We begin to have some inkling of "God's will for us" and pray for the power to carry that out.  It is in that spirit that I/we share our strength, hope and experience with each other.  It is our attempt to follow the process of recovery in the hopes of recreating our original relationship with the source of all power - beyond mind and illusion - and to manifest spiritual wellness within.  Recovery is much, much more than getting off of drugs, alcohol, or some other substance or behavior.  Recovery is our hope for salvation.  Everybody is recovering from something...or should be.  How about you?

Please join us as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of recovery with Dionne S., on Monday, September 27th @7PM - at the Making A Way Housing complex (The Compound)

Posted via email from Reggie Smith 770 by SocialNetGate

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Living Well with HIV

What many people know about me
Is that I am a D. J. I love to play and listen to House Music, especially old School. Being from N. Y. means having a special kind of flavor in the music we love and appreciate.I don't play much these days, at least I haven't been playing much, but after having experienced the House in The Park event here in Atlanta this weekend, I'm inspired to re-emerge on to the scene. I'd been told about the previous 5 years of success the event has had, but there would have been no way for anyone to effectively convey the spiritual nature of the being in the company of "Jack" and so many of his folk.

The reason this is so germaine to living well with HIV is because the spiritual realm is where we can most effectively heal our physical being. The energy that was created by he music and the beings, young and old, that attended physically and spiritually, was awesome and in invigorating. I had a special event, my granddaughter's 7th birthday party to attend at the same time I was at HITP, and I showed up late because the vibe (Jack) wouldn't let me go!

Our healing is expedited when it is created in the spiritual realm. I had forgotten how important he music is for my healing. I'm making a pledge to myself to get the proper dosage of musical enlightenment, and I pray to be a vessel of he same.

As I leave the doctors office today, grateful for wellness and the things that medicine has sone to help me maintain, I am encouraged to remember to move my body, and help you to jack your body too!!

God loves you & so do I.

Posted via email from Reggie Smith 770 by SocialNetGate

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

HIV Activists Reggie& Dionne Smith celebrate 25 years of Sero-Discordant marriage at U.S.C.A

Reggie Smith is speaking @the US Conference on AIDS on Sunday, September 12th!

September Starts New W.A.R Initiative

September seems like it is going to be an exciting month.  There are a few wonderful events that my wife and myself are scheduled to be involved in.  Besides the fact that our eldest grandchild is celebrating her 7th birthday on the 6th of the month, and our eldest son is getting married to a wonderful young lady on the 18th, Dionne and I will finally get more opportunities to share our great blessings with the world in two fabulous forums.

The first is on Sept. 12th, where I am on a panel that Sunday morning that will be discussing what it takes to "live well with HIV".  For me, the focus is also on how being in a long term sero-discordant relationship is possible, and how important it is that we shift our attitudes and behaviors if we truly expect to create positive change regarding the HIV epidemic.  We are excited to share our strength, hope and experience with all who are interested, and more importantly, to have a dialogue with those same folks.  I mean, I could go on and on in an unsolicited soliloquy about all of the experiences I have had over these past 25 years of living as a host for HIV, but it is always so much more enriching when there is a dialogue about the issues involved, and honest sharing about the same.

Then on Friday, September 17th, Dionne and I will be in Washington D.C., courtesy of the Kaiser Foundation, speaking with the Congressional Black Caucus about the things that can be done in the African American community (and beyond) to stem the constant attack that HIV continues to mount on so many of our soldiers, young and old.  The numbers are staggering, but the response has been timid considering the war we are engaged in.  There certainly have been many advances in certain areas, but we hope to suggest some healing solutions that have worked for us, and many others who have been touched by this challenging disease.

So, I will attempt to chronicle, more closely, this ongoing journey of life here in my blog so you can be a part of the adventure.  As I always say, "I enjoy watching the adventure of life unfold!!"
Thanks to you all for your continued love and support!!

Posted via email from Reggie Smith 770 by SocialNetGate

Friday, September 3, 2010

Reggie Smith is speaking @the US Conference on AIDS on Sunday, September 12th!

Greetings & Salutations!
I thought you would like to know that I am blessed to be able to share my strength, hope and experience at the United States Conference on AIDS.  My wife Dionne and I will also be sharing our thoughts with the Congressional Black Caucus at their annual national gathering in Washington D.C on September 17th at 9am.  We are honored to have these opportunities, and appreciate the love and support you continually give us and this cause.  We are engaged in W.A.R (Wellness, Awareness, & Recovery)!!



YouTube Channel


Twitter - @USCA2010



Dialogues in HIV: Can We Talk?

You are Invited to a FREE Lunch Symposium and Interactive Live Web Broadcast


Dialogues in


Sunday, September 12, 2010
12 Noon – 2 PM • Bonnet Creek Ballroom, Orlando, Florida
Held during USCA 2010
To participate in this FREE symposium live or via internet, please register at or by calling 732-256-4470




Reggie Smith


Luther A. Virgil, Jr., MD (Chairman)
Chief Executive Officer
& Chief Medical Officer
National Minority Clinical Research
Association (NMCRA)
Fairfield, NJ Treatment

Guidelines and Implications for Therapy






lisa henry reid


Lisa M. Henry-Reid, MD
Chair,Division of Adolescent
and Young Adult Medicine
John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital
Chicago, IL

HIV/AIDS in Youth Populations:
Where we are is not where we want to be

Reggie Smith


Reggie Smith
Executive Director,
HIV Anonymous, Inc.
Austell, GA

Living Well With HIV


2 Ways to Participate
Live or from the convenience of your own home or office


Register now at: or call 732-256-4470


Program Overview

HIV treatment has come a long way in the past 25 years. Today, with the proper therapy and positive lifestyles, people with HIV can live long, healthy lives even in sero-discordant relationships. Unfortunately, adolescent and young adults (ages 15-24) are making a significant and increasing contribution to the number of newly infected persons with HIV in the United States and worldwide. Youth populations engage in risk-taking behaviors, but do not always clearly comprehend that HIV acquisition may result from these behaviors. Providing effective care and treatment for adolescents poses unique challenges that healthcare providers and communities must overcome and find effective ways to support these young people to transition into adulthood. The task is not only to prevent and treat disease but to encourage youth to stay strong, healthy, positive and hopeful for the future.

Learning Objectives

·         Discuss the epidemiology of HIV/AIDS in youth populations

·         Identify the most common risk factors for acquiring HIV in youth populations

·         Evaluate the role of HIV testing for at-risk youth

·         Recognize the treatment challenges encountered in youth populations

·         Review the HIV therapy guidelines in the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) “Guidelines for the Use of Antiretroviral Agents in HIV-1-Infected Adults and Adolescents”, as well as the International AIDS Society-USA (IAS-USA) guidelines

·         Discuss important revisions made in the recently updated versions of the DHHS and IAS-USA guidelines and their implications for therapy

·         Assess methods to safely maintain a sero-discordant relationship

  • Discern the benefits of striving for spiritual, mental and physical wellness

Supported by an educational grant from merck logo


Do not miss this opportunity...Call or Register Online

About USCA
The mission of the United States Conference on AIDS is to increase the strength and diversity of the community-based response to the AIDS epidemic through education, training, new partnerships, collaboration and networking. It is the largest AIDS-related gathering in the U.S., bringing together over 3,000 workers from all fronts of the HIV/AIDS epidemic—from case managers and physicians, to public health workers and advocates, to people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWH/As) and policymakers—to build national support networks, exchange the latest information and learn cutting-edge tools to address the challenges of HIV/AIDS. We hope you will be one of them.

For more information, visit USCA online:, or on Twitter: or Facebook:

About USCA's Sponsor, NMAC
The National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) builds leadership within communities of color to address challenges of HIV/AIDS. Since 1987, NMAC has advanced this mission through a variety of programs and services, including: a public policy education program, national and regional training conferences, a treatment and research program, numerous publications and a website: Today, NMAC is an association of AIDS service organizations providing valuable information to community-based organizations, hospitals, clinics and other groups assisting individuals and families affected by the AIDS epidemic. NMAC's advocacy efforts are funded through private funders and donors only. 

For more information, call NMAC directly at (202) 483-NMAC (6622) or Visit the agency online at, as well as on and on Pictures and video clips from past NMAC events are available from (, and, respectively.

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Posted via email from Reggie Smith 770 by SocialNetGate