Mrs. Gussie Young Reddick was born April 11, 1935 in Lee County, GA to the parentage of the late Mr. John Henry Young and the late Mrs. Ola Mae Guest Young . She was educated in the public schools of Lee County. At an early age she joined the Philip Grove Baptist Church, where she served until her health failed. She met and married Mr. Andrew Reddick and to this union nine children were born, two precedes her in death, Ray Reddick and Billy Reddick. She is also preceded in death by her siblings, Lillie Myers, Polly Mae Burney, Lewis Young, Alfred Young and John Lee Young.
She leaves to cherish her memories her beloved husband of 63 years, Mr. Andrew “Bill” Reddick; four sons, Mr. Roosevelt (Linda) Reddick, Mr. Benjamin Reddick, Mr. Randolph (Mary) Reddick and Mr. Andrew (Shirley) Reddick, Jr.: three daughters, Mrs. Elaine (Anthony) Jackson, Ms. Bernice Reddick and companion Mr. Otis Walker and Ms. Cora Walton: three brothers, Mr. Walter Lee Young and companion Ms. Rabbit, Mr. Ronnie (Sheila) Young and Mr. Dennis (Annie Pearl) Young: three sisters, Ms. Jessie Pearl McCoy, Ms. Johnnie Mae Hayes and Ms. Dollie Mae Merritt: her in-laws, Ms. Bobbie Lee Young, Ms. Cora Green, Ms. Princella Cobb and Ms. Kate Meriwether: twenty-five grandchildren, a host of great grandchildren and great, great grandchildren: and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins other relatives and friends, including devoted friends, Ms. Rosie Sims and Dea. Joe Clark also survive.
Mrs. Dorothy Thomas Verrett, age 66, 117-A Fairway 2 Drive, Americus, Georgia passed Thursday, March 17, 2016 at the Phoebe Putney Hospital, Albany, Georgia.
The funeral service will be conducted at 2:00 P.M. Friday, March 25, 2016 at the Zion Hill Baptist Church, Allen Street, Leslie, Georgia. Reverend James Hill, pastor, will officiate.
Dorothy Thomas Verrett was born in Leslie, Georgia June 19, 1949 to Clara Bell Hudson and the late Leroy Thomas, Sr. She was a 1966 graduate of Union High School of Leslie, Georgia. Growing up in the community of Leslie, Georgia, she acquired her Christian training at Zion Hill Baptist Church. Dorothy enjoyed being with her grandchildren and playing Bingo. On Thursday, March 17, 2016, Dorothy joined that great caravan of believers and loved ones and landed on yonders shore, which included her father, Reverend Leroy Thomas, Sr.; her beloved daughter, Sonya Barthell; her sister, Catherine Mercer; and her nephew she reared as a son, Kareem Thomas.
Dorothy leaves a legacy of love and many fond memories to her beloved husband, children, grandchildren and family, which include a loving and devoted mother, Clara Bell Thomas, Leslie, Georgia; a beloved husband, Joseph Verrett, Americus, Georgia; her beloved children, Valerie Carter and Rico Johnson Verett; son-in-law, Willie Frank Mack, all of Americus,. Georgia; two stepchildren, Laticia Wilson, McDonough, Georgia and Charles Sullivan, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; six grandchildren, Jamison Russell, Virginia, Marquellis Jenkins (DeAndria), Deratio Baisden, Mary Barthell, Kyla Johnson-Verrett and Shantel Mack all of Americus, Georgia; five great grandchildren, DeAsha Jenkins, Delilah Baisden, Sa’Niyah Barthell, Chaston Green, and Deratio Baisden, Jr., all of Americus, Georgia; eight siblings, Ethel Franklin, Alice Reddick (Ned), Betty Day (Rogers), Carolyn Whitehead, all of Leslie, Georgia, JoAnn Green (Willie), Miami, Florida, Eddie Thomas, Willie Thomas (Shirley), all of Leslie, Georgia, Leroy Thomas, Jr. (Debra), Vidalia, Georgia; five special nieces, Latoya Harvey, Felicia Moses, Alexandra Mercer, Angela Mercer, and Monique Johnson; two special nephews, Braxton Brown and Bryant Thomas; two goddaughters, Carolyn Ross and Katina Garrett; six special friends, Marie Leverett, Dorothy Ingram, Stanley Lewis, Joseph Henry, Lynn Williams, and Lena Thomas; and a host of loving nieces, nephews, other relatives and loving friends.
Mrs. Melissa Lynetta Mann Harris, age 42 passed on Thursday, March 17,2016 at Phoebe Putney Hospital in Albany, Georgia.
The funeral service will be held at 2:00 P.M., Tuesday, March 22, 2016 at Welcome Baptist Church, Middle River Road, Americus, Georgia. The Reverend Freddie Mann, Sr., pastor, will officiate. Interment will follow at Staley Memorial Gardens, corner of Souther Field Road and Mayo Street, Americus, Georgia.
Melissa was born on July 2, 1973 to Reverend Freddie Lee Mann Sr. and Hattie Bell Johnson Mann in Americus, Sumter County, Georgia. She was educated in the public school system of Sumter County and was a 1991 graduate of Sumter County Comprehensive High School in Americus, Georgia. Following graduation, she furthered her education at Albany Technical College in Albany, Georgia and received her degree in Nursing.
Melissa accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior at an early age. She was a member of Welcome Baptist Church in Americus, Georgia where she served on the Usher Ministry. During her Nursing Career she was employed by Dr. Marshall’s office in Americus, Georgia and the Lillian Carter Health and Rehab in Plains, Georgia as a Licensed Practical Nurse. She is preceded in death by her only sister, Clarisa Mann; an aunt, Mary Ann Mann; and an uncle Charlie Mann.
Melissa was joined in holy matrimony to Ron Harris, and to this union, three children were reared.
She leaves a legacy of love and fond memories to her loving husband, Ron Harris, Americus, Georgia; three devoted children Rev. Mireo Harris, Tommy Blakley, and Hardari Harris, all of Americus, Georgia; two adorable granddaughters Shaniya and Taliah Blakley; parents, Rev. Freddie Lee Mann and Hattie Bell Johnson Mann of Americus, Georgia; a maternal grandmother, Lady B Sims, Americus, Georgia; three siblings Kenneth Johnson (Marilyn), Lumpkin, Georgia, Freddie Mann Jr., and Larenza Mann, both of Americus, Georgia, aunts and uncles Mary Hurley, Lassandra Hurley, Ruby Wilson (Tim), Ira Bell Tyson (Shelly), Robert Johnson, Eddie Charles Johnson, Johnny Sims, Minister Eva Mann, Elder Annie Brown, Arthur Mann (Rebecca), Willis Mann (Ruby), Dr. Cleveland Mann (Fannie), Minister William Mann (Doris), Bernice Mann and Ray Mann, Emma Sims Clay all of Americus, Georgia, David Sims (Carolyn) Warrick, Georgia, Mattie Mann Wright (Alfred), Albany, Georgia; mother/father-in-law, Anno Harris, Sr. and Betty Harris of Americus, Georgia; sisters/brothers-in-law, Rosanne Allen, College Park, Georgia, Freddie Harris, Marvin Harris, both of Americus, Georgia, Anno Harris Jr., Albany Georgia, Lisa Harris, Hollywood, California, host of nieces, nephews, other relatives, and friends, including several special friends, Myra Banks, Angie Lassiter, Rosa Butler, Theresa Bridges, Jamie Mack, Tanya Evans, Stacy Hubbert, Dr. John Marshall, and Carolyn Watson.
Mr. Kenneth Renard Fuller of 124 Foster Street, Desoto, Georgia died Tuesday, March 22, 2016 at the Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, North Carolina.
The funeral service will be held Saturday, March 26, 2016 at 11:00 a. m. in the sanctuary of the Saint John Baptist Church, 224 E. Allen Street, Leslie, Georgia. The burial will follow at the Saint John Church Cemetery.
Mr. Kenneth Renard Fuller was born November 13, 1969 in Americus, Sumter County, Georgia. He was born to Ms. Dessa Fuller and the late Mr. Fred Watts.
Better known as “Big Guy,” to his family and friends, he was educated in the public school system of Sumter County. He was a proud 1988 graduate of Sumter County Comprehensive High School. While in high school, he played football. He did further studying at South Georgia Technical College (Americus Campus)
At an early age he accepted Christ as his personal Savior and united with the Friendship Baptist Church Desoto, Georgia. He was a committed member of the church and a youth, he busied himself in many capacities.
Over the years he was employed by Rock 10 and later Williams Office Supply in Americus, Georgia. For 19 years, he was most recently employed by Wood Grain Moulding Company.
“Big Guy” was a devout Georgia Bulldog Fan. He was also an avid Atlanta Braves, Atlanta Hawks, and Atlanta Falcons fan. When not cheering his favorite Georgia teams on, he spend his time on the computer.
He was considered an all-American guy, who enjoyed being around people. He willingly gave support to anyone in need. His cheerful spirit endeared him to his family. No matter how much he joked around, his family just couldn’t get mad with him.
On Tuesday, March 22, 2016, he surrendered to the will of God. He went home to be with the Lord while a patient at Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, North Carolina. Along with his father, he is preceded in death by his grandparents, Deacon Allen Watts, Sr., Mrs. Lizzie Watts, and Deacon Isiah “Honey” Fuller, Sr.
He leaves to mourn his passing his loving and devoted mother, Ms. Dessa Mae Fuller of Desoto, Georgia; three loving children, Ms. Zhakera Fuller, Mr. Darrius Kleckley, and Ms. Alexis Lane all of Desoto, Georgia; a beloved grandson, Master Kaiden Davis of Desoto, Georgia; his loving grandmother, Mother Susie Fuller of Desoto, Georgia; his beloved brothers, Mr. Frederick Fuller and Elder Toney Fuller, Sr. both of Desoto, Georgia, his twin, Mr. Keith (Yulonda) Fuller of Leslie, Georgia, Mr. Kentrell Watts of Atlanta, Georgia, Mr. Frederick Reddick of Eatonton, Georgia, Mr. Matthew (Tamara) Watts of Germany, and Mr. Quintavious McClendon of Sylvester, Georgia; his loving sisters, a devoted, Evangelist Sarah Dice of Ameriucs, Georgia, Ms. Kenyada Watts of Albany, Georgia, Ms. Keysha Watts of Compton, California, Ms. Tekela Watts of Smithville, Georgia, Ms. Azariah Watts and Ms. Timokeya Seay both of Sylvester, Georgia; his aunts and uncles, Mr. Roosevelt (Lena) Fuller, Sr., Mr. Elmore (Jessie Mae) Fuller, Mr. Isiah Fuller, Jr., Mr. Walter (Dorothy) Fuller, Sr., Ms. Everrine Roberson, Ms. Patricia Fuller, Ms. Johnnie Presbury, Mr. Allen (Patricia) Watts, Jr., Ms. Vernetta Watts, Mr. Willie (Regenia) Watts, Ms. Lillie Watts, Ms. Willa Watts, Ms. Annetta Watts, Mr. Emanuel (Jeanette) Watts, Mr. Ricky (Regina) Watts, Ms. Vanessa Watts, Mr. Juanze (Jennifer) Watts, Ms. Bernice Watts, Ms. Seneca Watts, and Mrs. Bridget (Jeffery) Champion; his nephews, Demarcus Fuller and Tony Fuller, Jr.; his nieces, Keihonda Fuller, Cathesia Fuller, Keiria Fuller, Keia Fuller, Ke’Necia Fuller, Jathesia Fuller, Felecia Fuller, Feneshia Fuller, and Demariyah Fuller; a host of cousins, other relatives and many sorrowing friends to include his devoted friends, Ms. Ramona Hollis, Mr. Marchell Clark, Ms. Pamela Harris, and Mr. Randy Byron.
Funeral for Mrs. Brownie Lee Dunn of Ashby Street Americus, GA will be Monday, April 4, 2016 at 1:00 P.M. at the New St. Paul Baptist Church on Packing House Rd. Americus, GA with Pastor Michael Walker officiating. Burial will follow at the Eastview Cemetery.
Mrs. Brownie Lee Dunn was born on October 18, 1932 to the parentage of the late Mr. John Thomas Davis and the late Mrs. Elizabeth Davis. She received her education in the Sumter County school system. Mrs. Dunn was a homemaker until the day she was called home to glory. On Wednesday March 30, 2016 she departed her life at her residence. She was preceded in death by her parents and two sons, Mr. Willie Lee Dunn and Mr. Charles Jerome Dunn and a granddaughter, Ms. Chisa Tenise Dunn.
She leaves to cherish her memories a devoted husband of 66 years, Mr. Eddie Lee Dunn Jr. of Americus GA; four daughters: Rosa (MacArthur) Rutherford of Americus GA, Brownie Dudley of Waldolf, MD, Georgia Furlow of Americus GA, and Naomi Dunn Tinnin of Hampton GA; two sons: Eddie (Kim) Dunn III of Americus, GA and Sam (Regina) Dunn of Riverdale, GA; four sisters: Elizabeth Monts, Minister Linda Mathis, Heneritta Davis of Hartford, CT and Rebecca Davis; one brother, Reverend Leroy (Della) Davis; two sisters-in-law: Dora Bell (A.J.) Daniels and Leanamae Coleman, both of Americus, GA; one aunt, Ethel Mae Evans of Hartford, CT. She is also survived by 11 grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins including a devoted cousin Lois Tookes of Americus, GA and several other devoted friends.
Funeral services for Ms. Georgia Lee Johnson of McCoy Hill Americus, Georgia will be held on Saturday, March 26, 2016 at 11:00 A.M. at the Mt. Olive Baptist Church with Rev. Dr. H.C. Wilson officiating. Burial will follow at Staley Memorial Gardens.
Georgia Lee Johnson, daughter of the late Luther Johnson and the late Mrs. Thelma James Johnson, was born in Sumter County, Georgia, on March 15, 1937. At an early age she joined the Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church. She was a 1956 graduate of Sumter County High School. In 1958, she relocated to Hartford, Connecticut. She was a dietitian at The University of Connecticut in Hartford. She retired after 27 years of dedicated service. In 2001, Georgia Lee relocated back to Americus to be near her family and friends. She then rededicated herself with the Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church under the leadership of Pastor H.C. Wilsons.
In 2009, due to her failing health, she relocated to Powder Springs, Georgia. On Friday, March 18, 2016, Georgia Lee peacefully transitioned to her Heavenly home. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by a brother, James Johnson.
She leaves to cherish her memories a devoted daughter, Gwynelle (Louis) Mills; a granddaughter, Kianna Mills all of Glen Burnie, Maryland; four brothers, Claude (Mary), Eddie Frank, Douglas (Debra), and Felton; an aunt, Bertha Sampson; a devoted caregiver, Ms. Noemie Lamothe and family, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.
On Wednesday, April 6, 2016, God called a son, brother, and uncle home to eternal rest. He was born on March 9, 1968, in Americus, Georgia to the late Mrs. Ruby Harris and the late Mr. Ike Harris, Jr. He was reared by his loving aunt, Ms. Virgirie King, whom he affectionately called, “Ma”.
He attended Americus High School graduating in the class of 1986. While in high school, he participated in many sports. After high school, he actively continued to participate in many community sports. He was born an athlete.
In August of 1989, Kip began working in the Sumter County School System. He was a paraprofessional at Sumter County Middle School for over 26 years. He loved the children; the former principal, Mrs. Carolyn Hamilton; and his entire Sumter County Middle School Family. During his tenure at Sumter County Middle School, he served in many roles throughout the school. He was most proud of coaching the boy’s basketball team and the male mentoring group that he formed, “Top Authority”.
At an early age, he joined Welcome Baptist Church and later untied with the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Americus, GA.
He is preceded in death by his mother, Mrs. Ruby Harris; his father, Mr. Ike Harris, Jr.; a brother, Mr. Willie R. Harper; five uncles: Mr. David Harris, Mr. Luke Harris, Mr. James Harris, Mr. Romeo Harris, and Mr. James Walker; and two aunts, Mrs. Lonnie Mae Harris and Mrs. Dorothy Owens.
He leaves to cherish his memories: a devoted and loving aunt who reared him, Ms. Virgirie “Ma” King, Americus, GA; his mother, Ms. Velma Dean Harris, Americus, GA; six siblings: Mr. Dwight (Victoria) Harris, Americus, GA; Mr. Gregory “Teddy” (Stephanie) Harris, Columbus, GA; Mrs. Peggy Harris, Mr. Ulysses Harper, Mrs. Barbara (Willie) Green, and Mrs. Dianne (William) Smith, all of Americus, GA; one sister-in-law, Ms. Nina Harper of Americus, GA; eight additional aunts: Ms. Rena Mae Walker, Ms. Lula Mae Harris, Mrs. Berdia Mae (Otis) White, Ms. Mary Mathis, all of Americus, GA; Ms. Delois Baldwin, Aliquippa, PA; Ms. Beatrice Dent, Washington, DC; Ms. Grace Taylor, Capital Heights, MD; and Ms. Helen Schofield, Jacksonville, FL; eight uncles: Mr. Woodrow Harris, Mr. Anno (Betty) Harris, Mr. Ernest Mathis, all of Americus, GA; Mr. Eddie James (Betty) Dean, Jacksonville, FL; Mr. Ulysses (Brenda) Harper, Andersonville, GA; Mr. John Henry Mathis, Atlanta, GA; Mr. Ulysses Mathis, Columbus, GA; and Mr. James Arthur Mathis of North Carolina; several nieces, nephews, cousins, and other relatives also survive, including a special and devoted aunt and caregiver, Ms. Rena Mae Walker.
I, Osceola Black Robinson Greene, began this journey in Ellaville, Georgia, on March 21, 1927. I was one of God’s blessings to Allen Fort Black and Willie Alberta Smothers Black as their last child to nurture and raise in the admonition of the giver of all good and perfect gifts.
My siblings, Eddie Mae Black Haynes, Allen Fort Black, Jr., Flossie Lee Black Jones, Robert Clyde Black, Nannie Kate Black Smith and William Cullen Black were already on the scene to share in my successes and failures along my path.
I was blessed with a daughter, Willie LaVome Robinson, to share my rich legacy with and to guide on her journey to New Jerusalem. I gave this charge my best.
As you know, all roads have two beginnings. I chose the high road, the one that leads to everlasting peace. Most roads meet with crossroads. These were times when I had to decide which way I should go. As I went to God in prayer, He directed me in paths of righteousness.
Yes, there were signs and detours on my journey, and I learned they had been placed there for times of refueling and redirections so that I could glean new insights and be spiritually replenished for my destination.
I would not dare tell you that all of my paths were smooth. I had some mountains to scale, there were valleys and tunnels. In such times, I looked to the hills from whence came my help. I kept my hands on the throttle and my eyes on the rails because I had asked God to pilot me all my journey through. On April 4, 2016, He landed me safely on Canaan’s shore.
While on my pilgrimage, I enjoyed many years of excellent health. I earned some educational degrees, I worked two years as a social worker, and I worked thirty-eight years as a teacher and guidance counselor. I received joy from being able to help others aspire for a better life.
At the age of fourteen, I confessed Christ as my Lord and Savior. In later years, I was blessed to have a personal relationship with Jesus that affirmed my faith, helped me face the challenges of life, allowed me to enjoy the fruit of the spirit, feel the indwelling of the Holy Ghost, be assured that me salvation was secured and to know and fulfill my purpose for coming to planet earth. I was born to serve and I served until the master said “well done.”
I will not say goodbye. My father and my mother, my three sisters and my three brothers wait for me on God’s celestial shore.
Now that I have read my title clear to mansion in the sky, safe in the arms of Jesus, I will wait on the portal for you, my daughter, Dr. Willie LaVome Robinson and my grandson, Brenton George Robinson of Chicago, IL: five nieces, Deborah Black of Warner Robins, GA, Loretta Gamble, Zinna Ravenell, Sheila Mickens and Velma Wilson of St. Stephens, SC: three nephews, Monroe (Geraldine) Jones, Tifton, GA, Rinnes Black, St. Stephens, SC and Allen Black of Brooklyn, NY: cousins including devoted cousin, George (Vivian) Glover, friends, including devoted friends, Deacon Frank & Mrs. Robbie Latimore, Mr. Elbert & Mrs. Sue Solomon, Soros of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. also survive.
Mr. Willie James Black, Jr. was born in Sumter County, Georgia on September 29, 1983 to the parents of Mr. Willie James Black and Mrs. Maria Hampton Black. He received his education ion the public schools of Sumter County and was a graduate in the 2002 class. He attended Healing Temple with his grandmother, the late Mrs. Rosa D. Bridges. Willie attend South Georgia Technical College and was studying criminal justice and computer science. Before he became ill, he worked at Magnolia Manor Nursing Center as a Utility Tech for seven years. Poobear, loved to write, draw and rap “spit those lyrics” as he would say. He is preceded in death by his grandparents, Mr. Gordy & Mrs. Rosa Dunning Bridges, Mr. Lewis & Mrs. Lula Singleton and Ms. Ethel Myers.
He leaves fond memories to his son, Master Willie James Black, III, Americus, GA: his father, Mr. Willie James (Stacy) Black, Sr., Atlanta, GA: his mother, Mrs. Maria Hampton Black, Americus, GA: four brothers, Mr. Marcus Black, Mr. Malcolm Black, Mr. Deshaun (Candace) Duvernay and Mr. Peter (Ester) Duvernay all of Atlanta, GA; one sister, Mrs. Maquita (Phbillip) Bell, Americus, GA; his grandparents, Mr. Joe & Mrs. Mary Hampton, Americus, GA; his aunts & uncles, Ms. Tracy Hampton, Mrs. Deborah (Gerald) Johnson, Mrs. Stephanie (Darryl) Turner, Mr. Rodney Hampton, Mrs. Anita (James) Crews, Ms. Delois Brow, Mr. Rick (Carolyn) Hamilton, Mr. Craige (Teresa) Bridges, Mrs. Amy (Eljuan) Love all of Americus, GA, Mrs. Lillian (James) Coleman, Albany, GA, Mrs. Nancy (Johnny) Hawkins, Leslie, GA, Mrs. Donna (George) Maddox, Ms. Lisa Black of Warner Robins, GA and Mr. Clyde (Vonzell) Thomas, Windsor, CT; and a host of nieces, nephews, including devoted niece & nephew, Sindara and Kailem Bell, cousins including devoted cousins, Raheem Christian and Mario Turner other relatives and friends including a devoted friend, Sharonda Payne also survive.
Mr. Mike C. Jenkins was born in Sumter County, Georgia on May 11, 1953 to the parentage of the late Rev. M. C. Jenkins and Mrs. Reatha Harvey Jenkins, who survives. At an early age, he joined the Bethlehem Baptist Church, where his father pastored. He received his education in the public schools of Sumter County. He played football and was a semi-pro boxer, throughout the tri-state area and acquired the nickname Rope-A-Dope. He is preceded in death a sister, Mrs. Ruby Jenkins Smith.
He leaves to cherish his memories: his mother, Mrs. Reatha H. Jenkins, Savannah, GA; his grandmother, Mrs. Hattie Jenkins, Atlanta, GA: six children, Ms. LaFonda Jenkins, Mr. Mike C. Jenkins, Jr., Ms. Meshia Holt and Demetrius Holt of Americus, GA, Mrs. Yomekia (Kevin) Carter, Mrs. Tarrance (Dennis) Carter of Atlanta, GA: one brother, Mr. William J. Jenkins, Americus, GA: five sisters, Ms. Mary Butts, Lithonia, GA, Ms. Eddie Rene Williams, Atlanta, GA, Mrs. Marjorie (Ray) Johnson, Americus, GA, Mrs. Valarie (Rahman) Grimes, Savannah, GA and Mrs. Jennifer (Reco) Dawson, Warner Robins, GA; eleven grandchildren, TaQuita Jenkins, Chauncey Jenkins, SanTarius Jenkins, Terrencia Roberts, Zaxier Carter, Londen Carter. Miketti Jenkins, Zayvion Jenkins, Mike Jenkins, III, C’Asia Hagan and Dayjonhion Jenkins: two great grandchildren, Eriunah Jenkins and Lakayden Jenkins: and a host of aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins other relatives and friends also survive.
Mr. Willie L. Green was born in Sumter County, Georgia on March 29, 1929 to the parentage of the late Mr. Fess Green and the late Mrs. Rether Thomas Green. He received his education in the public schools of Sumter County. He attended Jerusalem Grove Baptist Church in Smithville, Georgia. He was employed by Bush Builders. He was united in Holy Matrimony to the late Mrs. Bobbie L. Stewart Green and to their union four children were born. Later, he married Ms. Irene Green, who survives.
He leaves to cherish his memories: three sons, Mr. Willie (Barbara) Green, Jr., Americus, GA, Mr. Freddie B. Smith and Mr. Jessie Smith of Smithville, GA; four daughters, Ms. Bernice Green, Mrs. Bobbie (George) Paul of Americus, GA, Ms. Gloria Green and Ms. Betty (Gregory) Furlow of Atlanta, GA; one brother, Mr. William Green, Americus, GA; one sister, Ms. Mary Green, Americus, GA; nine grandchildren, twenty-two great grandchildren; and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins other relatives and friends also survive.
Mrs. Virginia Olivia Moses Smith was one of nine children born to the late Emmitt Moses and Razzie Lee Green Moses on February 18, 1941, in Sumter County, Georgia. She was educated in the public schools of the City of Americus and later received a Certificate of Accounting from South Georgia Technical College, Americus, GA. In 1970, she joined Clarence “Joe” Smith, Jr. in holy matrimony.
As a child, she attended the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses with her family. On April 22, 1995, she was baptized as a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, where she faithfully served. Her latest work history included being a bookkeeper for Americus Sumter County Board of Education. She is preceded in death by her husband, Clarence Smith, Jr.; her son, Charles H. Moses; her daughter, Cathy E. Moses Jones; her grandson, Kentrelis Lassiter; her brothers, Thomas Moses, Melvin Moses, Emmitt Moses, Henry Moses, James Moses, Curtis Moses and Eston Moses; and brothers-in-law, Ivory Smith and Alfred Bowens.
The memories of Mrs. Virginia M. Smith will forever linger in the hearts of her two devoted sons, Mr. Corey L. Smith, Americus, GA and Staff Sergeant (Retired) Reginald J. Smith and his wife, Zatambra Smith, Stockbridge, GA; two beloved grandchildren, Brenton A. Rucker and Brandon J. Smith; her sister, Ruth Harris Cannon; her sisters-in-law, Inez Moses, Lila Smith, Lille Ruth Smith, Margaret Smith Mathis, and Selma Smith; her brothers-in-law, Eugene Smith, Rochester, N.Y.; Robert (Dorothy) Hubbard, Albany, GA; her aunt, Ms. Mildred Jackson Rushin; a host of nieces and nephews who loved her dearly; other relatives and friends also survive.
The word “cover” has many meanings and various implications. In a dictionary, you can find the following definitions: overlay, overspread, envelop, enwrap, cloak, conceal, screen, counterbalance, and compensate. Its application extends from protection to making up the difference for. But no matter which stance we take with the term, God truly has us “covered” in every sense of the word.
In Psalm 140:7, it says that He covers our head in the day of battle. In Psalm 139:13 it states that God covered, or protected, us while in our mothers’ wombs. Isaiah 51:16 declares that God covers, or cloaks, us in the shadow of His hand. Isaiah 61:10 proclaims that we are covered, or enwrapped, in a robe of righteousness. And last, but not least, Romans 4:7 reveals that God covers, or conceals, or sins. One thing about the term “cover” is that it carries the connotation of being entire and complete. That means that God does not partially cover us, but that God does a complete and entire work with nothing missing and nothing lacking for every imaginable need. Isn’t He an awesome
The experiences of Peter offer two examples of a covered life. In Matthew 17:24-27, Jesus paid Peter’s taxes along with His own. He covered his debt. How? By sending him to fish. And in the work of Christ, God definitely covers His laborers. In Acts 12:1-11, King Herod wanted to execute Peter for furthering the gospel of Christ. This was a perilous time because James had been martyred days before. Peter was imprisoned with sixteen soldiers surrounding him and guards that watched over the prison door. But is there anything too hard for God? An angel of God caused him to walk right through his enemies to freedom. It was so stress free that Peter thought he was dreaming.
Sometimes life can be difficult for Christians when we forget who God is, how great He is, and how impossibilities are possible with Him. We war so much that we sometimes forget that the greater One resides in us and is on our side to ensure our victory. Sometimes we forget that the Lord will fight our battles. When we do, we get weary in warfare. When we become drained by the continual struggle, we can begin to complain. However, this is not unusual. In fact, Paul experienced the same type of weariness.
In 2 Corinthians 12:6-10, Paul shares his experience with us. The more Paul walked in the Spirit, received revelations
from God, and ministered to others, the more he was attacked. Now I can’t say what the “thorn in the flesh” was, but
I do know that anything in the flesh is trying to hinder you from walking in the Spirit and in Truth. Paul was rustrated and asked God to deliver him from it three times. But it’s interesting-God’s answer was “no.” He refused to move it. Instead, He gave Paul another revelation-that His grace was more than enough to cover him. And with that revelation, Paul was no longer tormented by the thorn. He walked in the Spirit in the midst of his trials.
When you get a revelation that God has got you covered and that His grace is sufficient for whatever it is you are going through, you become a different person. You smile in the midst of adversity, bless those that persecute you, and declare that He is Jehovah Jireh in the face of bills and collection calls. When you truly know that God has got you covered, you will run to fight your Goliaths. You will walk on water. You will fulfill your destiny. Why? Because you know that God will never let you fail.
God did not let Jesus fail. Jesus was betrayed and endured unimaginable torture for sins He did not commit. But before He went through the experience, God strengthened Him. And God will strengthen you to go forward as well. How? One way is to meditate on Hebrews 12:1-3. Although Jesus did not enjoy what He endured, He stayed focused on His destiny. The cross was just a step in the process. His destiny was to ascend on high to be seated at the right hand of God, the Father. So set yourself. Stand your ground. Don’t let anything deter your from your destiny. Remember that God is with you, watches over you, and will not allow a single weapon to prosper in your life. He has charged His angels to take care of you. And nothing shall by any means harm you.
God wants YOU to know today that He has got you covered. So don’t give up. And don’t give in. Your breakthrough is closer than you think. Stay encouraged. And live life more abundantly.
May you abide in His richest blessings…
[Editor’s note: The following article contains edited excerpts from the message of the same name delivered by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan on Sunday, November 3, 1996 at Mosque Maryam in Chicago, Illinois. The Final Call urges its readers to obtain a copy of this timely message available in its entirety on DVD and CD. Please call 1.866.602.1230 FREE, ext. 200, or visit store.finalcall.com.]
In The Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful.
Most of our people feel powerless in the face of our adversaries (enemies). Most of our people think that the adversary is an immoveable object and unreachable star, an unfathomable depth, and an un-climbable height. Wrong! Our adversary is quite able to be moved, to be reached and to be overcome—but you have to have right tools to do this.
The enemy is such an enemy that he wants the Black man of America to have no friends. He does not want to be a friend of ours no matter what we have done to serve him and to prove this sick love that we have for him—even to this very hour he plots and plans against the good for you. And that is the nature and meaning of an “enemy”: He will fight every advance that will come to you.
After you supported The Million Man March in 1995 the way you did, and in such overwhelming numbers (where we called for one million and nearly two million showed up), many of you who came really didn’t know what the force was that was moving you, but you knew you had to be there! And what you did October 16, 1995 literally revolutionized the thinking of people all over the world. After the March I went on a World Friendship Tour, and in my journey I saw people who were so touched by what you did, and so filled with hope for what they saw and for what they heard that they see you as their hope.
Let me show you, Black man, how God has lifted you in spite of your enemies. … Since there is no more “super power” in the world to be a balance of power for the power of America and The West, all the smaller nations of Africa, The Middle East, The Isles of The Pacific, The Caribbean, and Central and South America are literally frightened of the enormous power of America. And America now is like a great bully, just dictating terms to the nations of the Earth. But inside of America? Inside of America there are numbering nearly 40 million to 50 million Black people. Also inside of America you have a fast-growing number of Hispanic people, and you have the Native Americans.
Well, what do those outside of America see in these numbers? They see that if this force was mobilized, organized and properly politicized, then you could become the power inside of America to redirect not only her domestic policy, but you can be the cornerstone of all her foreign policy if you awaken and see your value.
Brothers and sisters: Who are you? Who are you that God should be mindful of you? Who are you? You know, they say we don’t have any friends but I hear my Christian brothers and sisters singing a beautiful song “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”
Christians, do you know what you are saying? Now I can agree with you, but I’d like to take it a little deeper. This Jesus, when you have him as a friend: You don’t really need any other friends. When you have him as a friend, you have God as a friend, because the Two of Them act as “one.” Well, what do you need if you have Jesus as a friend? I know you sing the song, but consider this: How could you say you have a friend, and your friend leaves you in this shape (condition) that you are in? That’s like telling somebody “Rockefeller is your father,” and you have holes in your shoes. Somehow or another you’re just not connected, otherwise you’d look a little better.
I don’t want to waste a lot of time with that point, but I want to say that when you have such a one as a friend, and you bear witness that he is your friend, then there is no mountain too high, there is no valley too low, there is no ocean too wide to keep us from attaining our objective—when you have that kind of friend. The problem is you haven’t connected properly to your friend.
You are looking for a White man. And naturally, if you don’t know what your friend looks like, you won’t be able to find him … I think you need to get acquainted.
A wicked government, a wicked people and a conspiracy to kill
The Bible teaches in the Book of Matthew, Chapter 2, verse 15 “…Out of Egypt have I called my son.” Now it is true that Mary was an Egyptian and Egypt is Northeast Africa, as you know, and Jesus was born in Palestine. But there was such a controversy surrounding Jesus’ birth that he had to flee because The Law of Moses was that any woman or man found in fornication or adultery would be stoned to death. Mary was pregnant, and nobody knew who the father was. Even then with a pregnant woman, nobody would say the “holy ghost” did it. They would be looking for some man! So had the Jewish authorities gotten ahold of Mary during her pregnancy, knowing that she was not married, they would have stoned her to death. So the scripture teaches in Matthew 1:19that Joseph was minded to “put her away privily” (secretly). And when the baby was born, they had to get out of Palestine, so the young boy grew up in Egypt; and then out of Egypt he was called to his mission as a “prophet”—the last prophet to the Jews as we have been taught by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad.
The Jews rejected Jesus, and even to this very moment they do not accept Jesus, not as “Messiah” nor even as a “prophet of God.” They discount the Gospel. It’s true! And they are still looking for “The Messiah.”
The Qur’an teaches us that Jesus and his mother Mary were for a sign. A “sign” is not the real thing; a “sign” is that which points to or toward the real thing. So if Jesus was nurtured in Egypt, and left Egypt to go to Palestine to prophesy unto to The Children of Israel—and “Egypt,” as you know scripturally, is the place where Moses was raised to speak strong words to Pharaoh; and both the Bible and Qur’an teach you that “in the last days” you should look for “a man like unto Moses,” well there is no sense in looking for a man “like Moses” unless you have similar conditions that prevail at the time that Moses came to birth. You have to have a Pharaoh, you have to have a wicked government and a wicked people, and you have to have an enslaved people that would be in bondage 400 years. Well, you don’t have to look far … You don’t have to look far. Look at yourself.
America (the Western Hemisphere), is not where you literally originated from, you were brought here, after White people discovered the Native Americans here (and they didn’t want to give them credit for having found something before White people, so they said “We discovered it”). Here they brought millions of us and we’ve been under their foot for 400 years.
As I have stated throughout the years: Crack cocaine is from the government of the United States of America. And when I have said this, some of you thought I was paranoid. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, I went across this country asking you to stop killing yourself (“Stop The Killing” tour), because I knew that the government was making war on Black youth, Black men in particular. Brothers and sisters, the Million Man March didn’t happen in a vacuum—I had been working on that 10 years prior! I crisscrossed this country saying to Black youth “the government has plotted against your life,” and I opened both Bible and Holy Qur’an to show you the conspiracy.
The Bible and Qur’an are not some silly Books of ancient people, these Books are real, and are filled with prophetic, symbolic pictures of things that happened yesterday to give you a picture of what is happening today.
In an eight-hour meeting one day, Brother Dr. Cornell West, a really brilliant brother, said to me, “Farrakhan, do you hold to some conspiracy theory?” I said “It’s not a theory, it’s a fact!” I said, “Dr. West, don’t you believe in the scriptures?” and he had to say “yes,” so I said, “Well let’s read together”—and read from Exodus 1:10 which states: “And Pharaoh said come let us deal wisely with them lest they multiply, join on to an enemy and come against us.” That is a conspiracy!
Now the question is: If that is a conspiracy, who are “the conspirators” and what is “the conspiracy”? Scientists of “population growth” saw the womb of the White woman not being blessed; and so, when she was becoming barren, they started developing fertility drugs for White women. But for you, Black woman, they developed “birth control” that they knew would damage you and they have been working now for over 50 years to curtail your birth rate. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad wrote years ago that they were putting chemicals in the food, in the water, and in the atmosphere, and it is a fact today that the sperm count in the male (all males, but Black males particularly) is getting less and less and less. You with ovarian cancer, breast cancer, and us with prostate cancer: See, they are working to destroy a people.
The conspiracy was “kill all the boy children and spare the females.” Look at your women: They are in great pain because there is no man; it is males with sex organs, but the man that God intended for us to be is absent. Our women are filling the colleges and we are filling the jails. Our women are filling the offices working downtown and we are filling the street corners. Our women are learning skills and we are selling drugs and buying guns, killing each other. One night as I was watching television, there was a story on “violence in America,” and I saw this Black woman just wailing, and it brought tears out of my eyes, and I immediately started to pray. Because, these sisters, your mothers, are frightened and sad because they are burying their young sons and their young daughters, but mostly their young sons, through gang conflict and drugs wars that were started as a part of the conspiracy.
When I finished the “Stop The Killing” tour, I paused for a moment and then began again in several cities talking just to Black men (“Men Only” tour). But the moment I began talking to Black men, White people became crazy!
Tell me something: If you have a meeting of Catholic Priests, you won’t find a woman there—and there isn’t anyone outside picketing. If you have a meeting of rabbis, you won’t find a woman there, and there won’t be anybody picketing in the streets. If the Boy Scouts meet, there will be no Girl Scouts there—but nobody will picket; and if the Girl Scouts meet, the boys are not picketing. But just let Farrakhan come to try to talk to Black men about what we have to do to escape the net of a fisherman whose plot is to destroy the Black male. …
‘Illegitimate’ government co-conspirators against Black life
I held a press conference in Washington, D.C. during the time that George H.W. Bush was in the White House, and I charged the government of the United States—this is on record—with declaring war on the Black community, and the Black man in particular. Former President Bush knows: He, being the former head of the C.I.A., became vice-president under Ronald Reagan who privatized the security agencies of the government. [Ref. Executive Order 12333, “United States Intelligence Activities”]
This order did not originate in the C.I.A., and that is why they don’t have any records of this in the CIA; but C.I.A. operatives were involved. This order came directly out of the White House because the C.I.A. is not “Pharaoh”; “Pharaoh” is the head of government—and that is President Bush, President Reagan, and all of the bastards that lived before them. I used the unkind word “bastard,” because a bastard is an illegitimate child—and they are illegitimate heads of state and government.
And you who legitimize “bastards”: They have no right to rule you, but you allow them to rule you! For what? Stand up like a man, and tell them you will not rule me anymore! Don’t be afraid. … They have no power over you but the power you give them by obeying them. When are you going to stand up and say no? Don’t just say “no” to drugs, say no to the enemy that is bringing the drugs! Say “no!” to a government that has entered into a conspiracy against the Black man!
They plan wars. You that are the soldiers: You fight for a country that doesn’t give a damn about you. When are you going to stop? I know some of you are in the Armed Forces, and they’ve offered you a job, and we thank them, but you’re going to have to find another employer because he’s getting you ready for the frying pan! This government is making a killer out of you, and then bringing you back from (overseas), because they don’t need you over there anymore, and setting you in your own community; then, filling the community with drugs and guns. And since you are trained killers, then you kill each other—and that’s exactly what you have been doing! And you think it’s an accident. …
No, it is by design. And because you don’t know yourself, and don’t know them, and don’t know the time and what must be done, you fall right into the plan and become agents of your own destruction.
George H.W. Bush, as vice president, was over a covert group that worked out of the White House, and when Congress would not give money to The Contras who were fighting against the Sandinista Regime in Nicaragua, they had to find a way around Congress.
I am a Muslim, and I love Saudi Arabia and I love the Holy Houses in Saudi Arabia, but the Saudi Government is used by America. When the administration couldn’t get Congress to go along with them, they went to the king of Arabia and asked for money. Here is a so-called holy land where the guardians of the sacred shrines of Islam are giving money to Reagan and Bush to buy weapons for The Contras—but they bought drugs as well as weapons.
I think the American people need to know what has been happening. It’s not people like “Freeway” Rick Ross who are in control of this drug trade—he’s on the bottom of the totem pole. It is White people who brought the drugs to him, and sold it to him at a very low price, who then taught him how to make “crack.” Crack is a chemical that is so addictive. … Look at the conspiracy, brothers and sisters!
Who is to blame for the spread of crack cocaine in our communities?
My dear brothers and sisters, if you notice from the beginning of the 1980s when “crack” started, you heard about “The Bloods and The Crips”; and you in Chicago already knew that Chicago had many gangs—but crack was not here. Mayor Daley and city administrators did not want it here in Chicago because they knew crack had devastated all the cities, only adding to the problems of the cities. But notice at the time the Republicans who were crying “law and order”: All the candidates that ran for political office had to talk about what? “Law and order” and “crime.” And when they talk about law and order, and crime, who do you think the public is thinking about? They’re thinking about not so much our sisters, but about Black men.
They said, “We must have law and order, we must have tough laws. Crime is on the increase”—and all of us suffering from robberies, carjacking, all of these things, we said, “Yes! Yes, we need tough laws! Put them in jail.” And the White people said, “Good … They’re all in agreement! ‘Three strikes’ and you’re in for life.”
Brothers and sisters, there are hardly any of you that have not been arrested for something; you can hardly find a Black person 35-years-old that hasn’t been arrested at least once, maybe twice. So all you have to do is be charged for taking a candy bar. … So in 1984, when crack was going strong, and the crime was going strong, they started privatizing prisons; corporate America became involved in “prisons for profit.” Do you know what the greatest growth industry in America is now? Prisons.
Look brothers, any of you that are in business, you know that if you are going to set up a McDonald’s, what do you do? You have to check and see what kind of foot traffic or car traffic you have so that you know that you don’t put it in a desolate area. The feasibility studies that were done found that since there was more crack in the Black community, and they are fomenting (provoking) gang violence and there are more guns in the Black community, then if they give unusually long sentences for crack cocaine, then those arrested will have five years, 10 years, maybe life—and they say, “We’ve got us a slave,” because now they’re going to tie prison to industry, “so we will have a fat bottom line on the back of N—-rs.” … Now they’re bringing back the chain gangs.
Can’t you see what’s happening to us? Does this sound like a fairy tale? When they get you in prison their effort is to turn you out. See, they’ve already titillated the community with sex. Sexual lyrics, sexual songs, sexual dance, sexual healing. Just look at you: You don’t have pleasure in your life because real pleasure comes from good human relationships; this is why the Bible teaches, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”
When men and women are together in unity, there is no physical pleasure more pleasurable than our love and unity for each other. And that’s why at The Million Man March, to see love displayed like that, great, strong Black men just broke down and cried; and it was a transformative experience. Sex doesn’t transform you into that. …We’re all messed up! We’re all messed up and we have to climb out of this. We have to climb out of this behavior.
I want to say to the young men and women who are reading this: We have to escape this conspiracy. You may say “I make my living selling drugs”—yes, but you can sell something else. See all the money that you get selling drugs? It comes easy, and it goes easier. And when the enemy gets ready for you, they bust you and take everything and put you in prison. We have to get away from being a victim in a conspiracy, and begin to take the offensive and carry the fight for freedom and justice to the enemy rather than always being on the end of their traps complaining about what White people are doing. We have to find that friend that will strengthen us against the force of evil and make us victorious.
In the Bible, it teaches us “As lightening shineth from the East even unto the West so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.” So you have a man coming out of the East coming to the West; Isaiah the Prophet looks at it, and Isaiah said, “There was none to uphold Him so His own right arm it upheld Him, and mighty was He to save His people. Wheresoever the eagles are gathered together there shall the carcass be,” so you have a man coming from the East unto the West under the title “Son of Man.” That’s our Jesus! That is your Friend.
Troy Carter made a name for himself in the music industry having helped to establish the careers of several recording artists, most notably Lady Gaga. An angel investor who has backed such companies as Uber, Spotify, DropBox and Warby Parker, Carter will now be in the spotlight as one of three new quest judges of ABC “Shark Tank.” Today Carter is the founder and CEO of Atom Factory, a talent management and media production company inCulver City, California, whose clients includeGrammy Award winning R&B singer John Legend. Atom Factory also has a VC investment arm.
Ashton Kutcher and Chris Sacca will join Carter as guest sharks that will appear individually alongside the regular investors, or “sharks,” which include FUBU and brand guru Daymond John. Apart from being an actor, Kutcher has backed Airnbnb, Spotify, Uber, Flipboard, SoundCloud, Foursquare, and Shazam. He also is the co-founder for tech investment firm A-Grade Investments. Sacca is a Silicon Valley venture investor and private equity adviser. He manages the venture capital firm Lowercase Capital. The former Google executive is an investor in Twitter and Uber.
The quality of the startups pitching their wares on “Shark Tank” has risen dramatically. Traditionally, “Shark Tank” features entrepreneurs from all consumer industries, with the main focus being that anyone could have come up with the ideas that are pitched, an inspiring point that keeps Dallas Mavericks NBA team owner and shark investor Mark Cuban happy despite the small return on investment he receives, according toNextShark.com. “Shark Tank” hopes to dig in to the Silicon Valley tech culture by bringing in three new angel investors that primarily deal with tech startups.
Now in its seventh season, “Shark Tank” features entrepreneurs pitching their products to a group of investors who negotiate equity deals on the spot. In addition to John and Cuban, the regular sharks include real estate magnate Barbara Corcoran, QVC retail expert Lori Greiner, and the requisite venture capitalist Kevin O’Leary.
The competition reality show’s popularity, with more than seven million viewers and a major syndication deal on CNBC, comes from the diversity of its cast and the entrepreneurs pitching their ideas. That’s part of what reportedly impressed Carter, who encountered entrepreneurs from more diverse backgrounds than can be found in Silicon Valley. Carter also likes the show’s ability to reach Americans outside the Bay Area and New York hubs, “specifically, kids that look like me” from less privileged or minority backgrounds, Carter toldForbes. “I love Silicon Valley, but it doesn’t have a patent on innovation and entrepreneurship,” he said. “These are legitimate business negotiations with entrepreneurs who are spending their own money.”
As an angel investor, Carter told BlackEnterprise.com that he likes entrepreneurs who have failed before or who have lost money before—people who are entering the space with something to prove and have some experience under their belt. “That is a plus,” he explained. “When you look at Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber, that was his third company. We like working with entrepreneurs who have been knocked on their backs a couple of times and have been able to get up.”
Carter also pointed out that it wasn’t until he got into investing that he started to notice the lack of minorities in the space. Studies show that ethnic minorities account for less than 5% of the active angel population (nearly 300,000 wealthy individuals). Being an angel investor requires a thorough due diligence and vetting process of identifying fundable, scalable startups and early-stage companies, Carter added. “You have to make sure that the entrepreneur understands what market they are in, the product that they are building, and that they have the mental wherewithal to make through the tough process of the entrepreneur’s journey.”
by Denise Campbell Laidler
Talking to your spouse about money may not be at the top of your to-do list, but considering that financial challenges are one of the major causes of break-ups, it’s important for your marriage.
Giving financial talks the ‘cold shoulder’ does no one any favors and may lead to fights, secrets, busted budgets and ravaged savings accounts.
Here are five pointers to help couples avoid financial pitfalls while following their heart:
Make a Money Date. Talking about money is serious business for many couples, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Together you and your spouse can set time for discussing financial issues, such as the budget, savings, and retirement. Give the discussion your full attention. If possible, do it outside the home, such as setting up a date at a local cafe with free WiFi. Bring your laptop, spreadsheet, expenses document and any other tools you’ll need to focus on your financial situation and future. Set aside time on an on-going basis to ensure that both of you are meeting and moving towards your goals. Discuss who should have control over the money, and if you want a joint or single bank account. Discuss how wealthy you hope to be and what you would sacrifice to get there. List your retirement dreams.
Write it down. For some individuals, it’s easier to write down their thoughts and figures rather than navigate what may be an emotionally fraught conversation. This gives insight into each person’s “money-mindset.” Use a spreadsheet or expense document with bullet-ed lists, or whatever makes you comfortable when taking stock of your financial landscape. This includes who pays which recurring and major bills, as well as long and short-term saving goals. Often, seeing items in black and white is potentially less emotionally fraught than a conversation in which someone feels attacked or blamed.
Ask Questions. During your next money date, be prepared to ask and answer pertinent questions about short and long-term goals? How can you stick closer to your joint budget? Do you need a credit card for emergencies or to establish credit? Are you happy renting, or does he or she want to purchase a house one day? What does your spouse want to do during retirement? Are you going to pay for your children’s college education? Remember, nobody is right or wrong here, but you both need to be honest.
Talk Through Mistakes. If your spouse blows their portion of the budget, try not to assign blame and hold a grudge. Instead, find solutions to prevent it from happening again. For example, did your spouse overspend because car repairs were costlier than expected? Add more money to the “repairs fund” to prevent future problems. Use a budgeting worksheet or a financial tool to help you stick to your budget. Arguing with your partner without understanding what went wrong can lead to disaster and won’t solve the problem in the future.
Consider Yourselves Equals. Who makes what, is irrelevant. Respect each other as equal partners with an equal say in money management and financial goals.
Venture capitalists back tech and consumer products companies with founders of diverse backgrounds by Carolyn M. Brown
Venture capital investment in companies led by women and minorities is lacking. CB Insightsreleased its data in showing only 1% of VC-funded startup founders are African American, whereas 83% of VC-backed founders are white. Stepping up to the plate to help change that narrative are early stage venture capital firms like Cross Culture Ventures.
Launched in 2015, the firm is led by three African American men: talent manager and venture investor Troy Carter, former Gastronome Ventures vice president Trevor Thomas, and prior Intel Capital Partner Marlon C. Nichols, who led investments in women and minority-led start-ups through Intel Capital’s Diversity Fund. Nichols will lead a panel discussion on identifying seed and early-stage funding at the Entrepreneurs Summit.
Cross Culture Ventures invests in entrepreneurs creating next generation technology and consumer products. It expects to invest in 40 companies out of its first fund. While their mission is not to invest in minority-led companies, its founding partners take really good looks at companies that are led by founders of different racial and cultural backgrounds.
“About 50% of our (eight) portfolio companies are led by black men. It is not something that we set out to do,” says Nichols, a former enterprise software start-up guy and strategy consultant turned venture capital investor. “We were looking for companies that solve real problems. We are discovering and investing in companies that are aligned with what we are seeing in terms of a shift in cultural trends and consumer behaviors within an increasingly diverse global marketplace.”
Take for instance, Mayvenn Inc. and its co-founder and CEO Diishan Imira. The idea of mixing the black hair market with the ecosystems of Silicon Valley may seem like a foreign concept to many, but the idea sounded perfect to the 34-year-old Hampton University alum. To solve this problem, Imira created an innovative tech platform that allows hair stylists to sell hair extensions directly to their clients without a middle man involved. The hair market (weaves, wigs, and extensions) is a billion-dollar industry. Since its 2012 launch, Mayveen has raised $10 million. Outside investors include Cross Culture Ventures, music mogul Jimmy Irvine and tennis great Serena Williams.
Nichols’ advice to entrepreneurs is to come up with an idea that is authentic to your experience, something you can relate to and really understand. What’s more, be honest with yourself. What is the potential for this business? Is this going to be a couple million dollars or even a $10 million dollar business. If so, you don’t need to take on equity, Nichols explains. “That is what we call a lifestyle business. You can become wealthy, but it is not a business a venture investor is going to fund.”
Fresh off a loss on American Idol, runner-up La’Porsha Renae has found herself in hot water after she called the LGBT community a “lifestyle.”
Renae, in an interview, was asked about how she felt about the “Religious Liberty” bill 1523 that her home state of Mississippi had banned, allowing members of the LGBT community to be refused services by people who claimed religious exemptions.
“They are people just like us,” she said. “They’re people with feelings. Although all of us may not agree with that particular lifestyle for religious reasons, whatever the reason is, you still treat each other with respect…I am one of the people who don’t really agree with that lifestyle. I wasn’t brought up that way. It wasn’t how I was raised.”
People quickly took to Twitter to decry her comments, and it didn’t help matters when she responded writing, “We don’t have to agree with each other’s life choices to love/respect one another.”
Daisy Lewellyn, who starred in Bravo’s Blood, Sweat and Heels, has died, according to ESSENCE. The author and style-maven was 36 years old.
Lewellyn revealed she had been battling Stage 3 bile duct cancer on the show’s Season 2 premiere in March, 2015, though she was diagnosed before that.
Lewellyn wore several hats in the media and fashion industry. She wrote a book in 2010, Never Pay Retail Again: Shop Smart, Spend Less and Look Your Best Ever. She worked as a writer, editor and style expert for several publications and shows.
By DAVID BAUDER, AP Entertainment Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — N.W.A. entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Friday, with the groundbreaking quintet that reflected the rough streets of Los Angeles in a style known as gangster rap defiantly refuting those who suggested rappers didn’t belong in the institution.
They joined the rock hall in a ceremony at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center with 1970s-era rock acts Cheap Trick, Chicago, Deep Purple and Steve Miller.
N.W.A.’s rough-hewn tales tilted the balance toward West Coast rap in the late 1980s on songs like “F— the Police,” ”Boyz-N-The Hood” and “Straight Outta Compton.” Following the act’s breakup, Dr. Dre became one of music’s most in-demand producers and a billionaire with a high-tech headphone company. Ice Cube moves between music and a successful acting career.
For all the success, some traditional rockers have resisted the inclusion of rap acts into the hall, most prominent Kiss’ Gene Simmons, whose band was inducted in 2014.
“I want to say to Gene Simmons, hip-hop is here forever,” said MC Ren. “Get used to it.”
Rock ‘n’ roll is not just a musical style but a spirit that connects people, be they bluesmen or punk rockers, Ice Cube said. “Rock ‘n’ roll is not conforming to the people who came before you but creating your own path in music and in life,” he said. “That is rock ‘n’ roll and that is us.”
Named for one of N.W.A.’s best-known songs, the movie “Straight Outta Compton” told the band’s story and was one of the biggest box office winners of 2015. They were inducted by Kendrick Lamar, who said N.W.A. members “proved to every kid in the ghetto that you could be successful and still have your voice while doing it.”
Chicago was known for a brassy, jazz-rock fusion in its early days and settled into a comfortable career penning pop hits. Among their favorites were “Saturday in the Park,” ”25 or 6 to 4″ and “If You Leave Me Now.”
Singer Rob Thomas, while inducting Chicago, indicated that Chicago was tougher and more innovative than people had given them credit for. He joined the band for a verse of “Does Anyone Really Know What Time it Is?”
“If you think Chicago was your mom’s band, man I want to party with your mom,” Thomas said.
The pride of Rockford, Illinois, Cheap Trick’s career soared in the late 1970s when a live album recorded before a gleeful Japanese audience added excitement to tracks like “Surrender” and “I Want You to Want Me.” Turning up the volume for the night, they performed both songs.
They were inducted by a fellow Midwesterner, Detroit’s Kid Rock, who noted that most bands in attendance that night consider themselves great live acts.
“Then you go and see Cheap Trick,” he said. “That’s when you think, we kind of suck. I better step up my game.”
The rock hall also paid tribute Friday to two recently deceased rockers, with David Byrne and the Roots collaborating on David Bowie’s “Fame” and Sheryl Crow singing the Eagles’ “New Kid in Town” to honor the late Glenn Frey.
Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich described seeing the night’s first inductees, Deep Purple, when he was nine years old and taken to their concert in Copenhagen. He said it changed his life.
“Almost without exception, every hard rock band of the last 40 years — including mine — traces its lineage back to Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple,” Ulrich said. “They are always considered equal. In my heart, I am bewildered that they are so late in getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”
The band was without one of its founding members, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, who stayed away because current members wouldn’t agree to play with him. But the inductees regarded him warmly in their speeches and paid tribute musically — performing “Smoke on the Water” with the signature riff that the guitarist came up with.
Ulrich called it the guitar riff “that has actually been banned from playing in music stores to preserve the sanity of the staff.”
Steve Miller and his band played his crowd-pleasing hits “Fly Like and Eagle,” ”Rock ‘n’ Me Baby” and “The Joker” to an audience of fellow musicians and industry professionals sitting at tables in the Brooklyn arena and ticket-buying members of the public in the surrounding stands.
“If you listened to the radio, you listened to Steve Miller,” said the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, who inducted Miller with his partner Patrick Carney.
The hall also inducted songwriter and producer Bert Berns.
HBO is filming Friday’s show and will air highlights on April 30.
The rock hall also announced that starting in 2018, it would begin alternating the annual induction ceremony between New York and Cleveland, where the Hall of Fame and Museum is located.
CHICAGO (CBS) — Syndicated radio personality Doug Banks has died.
He was 57.
Banks’ syndicated show originated at WVAZ (V-103) in Chicago. The cause of his death was not immediately known.
He had been diagnosed with diabetes and reportedly suffered from kidney problems.
“With a heavy heart our V-103 family would like to send our thoughts and prayers to Doug Banks’ family and friends,” the station said in a statement. “Doug, a true radio legend, has passed away today. He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him.”
Banks was born in Philadelphia and started his career in Detroit and then Los Angeles before arriving in Chicago at V-103.
The Doug Banks Morning Show, hosted by Banks along with DeDe McGuire, rose to become one of the top-rated syndicated urban programs in America, according to his bio on the station website.
In 2008, Banks re-launched his nationally syndicated morning show in afternoon drive.
Banks had been off the air for several months, before returning in February.
By Christina T. Loguidice clinicalpainadvisor.com,
Traumatic brain injuries are well known to occur in football players and have been shown to be associated with an increased risk of various neurological disorders, including chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The extent to which brain trauma impact neurological function, however, has yet to be fully elucidated. A new study presented at the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) 68th Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada, is shedding more light on the
incidence and impact of traumatic injuries in NFL players. The study is one of the largest studies to date in living retired NFL players, according to the study’s lead author, Francis X. Conidi, MD, DO, Florida Center for Headache and Sports Neurology and Florida State University College of Medicine, Tallahassee, FL.
Conidi and colleagues’ used diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) in combination with traditional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and thinking and memory tests to study the brains of 40 retired NFL players (mean age, 36 years; range, 27-56 years). DTI is a sensitive MRI technique that enables visualization and characterization of white matter fascicles. Using DTI, more than 40% of retired NFL players were found to have signs of traumatic brain injuries. “The rate of traumatic brain injury was significantly higher in the players than that found in the general population,” noted Conidi in a statement.
DTI helps determine the level of damage to the brain by showing the movement of water molecules in brain tissue, with water molecule diffusion patterns revealing microscopic details about tissue architecture. Of the 40 former players, 17 (43%) had levels of movement 2.5 standard deviations below those of age-matched healthy people (error rate, <1%). On traditional MRI, 12 (30%) showed evidence of brain injuries from the disruption of nerve axons.
On thinking and memory tests, approximately 50% of players showed significant problems with executive function, 45% with learning or memory, 42% with attention and concentration, and 24% with spatial and perceptual function. The longer a player was in the NFL, the more likely he was to show signs of traumatic brain injury on the advanced MRI. Most of the players in the study were with the NFL approximately 7 years (range, 2-17 years) and had been out of the NFL for less than 5 years.
On average, players reported having sustained 8.1 concussions during their time with the NFL, and 12 players (31%)
reported having sustained hits that were officially below the threshold of a diagnosed concussion. No relationships were found, however, between the number of concussions sustained and likelihood of showing evidence of traumatic brain injury on DTI or between the number of years in the NFL and signs of brain damage on traditional MRI.
“This is one of the first [studies] to demonstrate significant objective evidence for traumatic brain injury in these former players,” said Conidi in a statement. “This research in living players sheds light on the possible pathological changes consistent with chronic traumatic encephalopathy that may be taking place.”
BY JEFFREY L. BONEY, HOUSTON FORWARD TIMES,
In a time where, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the United States faces a shortage of as many as 90,000 physicians by 2025, including a critical need for specialists to treat an aging population that will
increasingly live with chronic disease, a diamond in the rough has done something phenomenal in the city of Houston.
Dr. Foyekemi Ikyaator, a 31-yearold Black woman, who opened a stand-alone, full-service emergency room in northwest Houston along with her husband, is doing something very few people have done.
According to a report published on AAMC’s website, the number of minority applicants to medical schools increased in 2014, which is encouraging news for the future of Black people in the medical field, when you consider what Dr. Foye has done.
Dr. Foye (pronounced Foy-yay), as she likes to be referred to, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to introduce the northwest Houston community to a new business venture she opened in December 2015—Life Savers Emergency
Since opening in December the ER service has been met with rave reviews with five stars on Google and other social media platforms.
Life Savers Emergency Room comes from the heart of Dr. Foye, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, who was practically raised in the United States and was groomed to care for the physical well-being of people. No doubt coming from a structured support system that purported academic superiority, Dr. Foye received her education on a full academic scholarship.
After completing her residency in Emergency Medicine from the Emory School of Medicine and Public Health in 2012, Dr. Foye moved to Houston from Atlanta, in order to further her practice. Dr. Foye gained extensive experience working within the St. Luke’s Health System.
Within a few short years, she decided it was time to do what she wanted to do.
Dr. Foye now successfully directs the Life Savers Emergency Room, where she can take more time with her patients, counsel them on specific needs and promote the kind of medicine that she believes is necessary today.
“In the emergency room you can see between 20 and 30 patients within a shift, and there is just enough time to treat them and get them to their next point of care,” said Dr. Foye. “The whole idea in a free-standing ER is that you can provide the care in a more relaxed environment.”
The swift response is attractive to Dr. Foye. Ultimately patients get a lot of primary care, which can be a very good thing if the patient has limited access to care.
As an ER doctor, Dr. Foye treats and provides life-saving acute care. She also manages blood pressure, diabetes, depression and a host of other chronic ailments. It’s fast medicine, which is not always a bad thing in dealing with patients who want swift and direct care.
Dr. Foye understands that she represents, not only the minority, but the change that comes from her generation. Whereas 50 years ago, the average medical director did not look like her; and certainly there are not many 31-year-old Black women today who are thriving in the lane Dr. Foye has created for herself. As a young Black
female, mother and leader in medicine, she is pushing the bar a little higher and bridging a gap so that the next person can beat the odds.
Dr. Foye is in tune with her colleagues who wish to practice medicine under a non-restrictive bureaucracy, so board certified doctors, nurses and practitioners can be flexible with the time and resources needed to care for people. A self-proclaimed human rights proponent, the overriding mission for Dr. Foye is helping people.
By: MARY ANN MOON copd-hub.com,
Quitting smoking abruptly rather than gradually leads to higher abstinence rates both at 4 weeks and 6 months, a report published online March 14 shows.
Worldwide guidelines for smoking cessation generally recommend abrupt cessation over a gradual reduction in smoking, based on data from observational studies. However a recent review of 10 randomized trials concluded that quitting “cold turkey” produces only slightly higher quit rates, said Nicola Lindson-Hawley, Ph.D., of the department of primary care health services, University of Oxford (England), and her associates.
They compared the two approaches in a noninferiority trial involving 697 adults treated at 31 primary care practices in England during a 2.5-year period. The study participants smoked at least 15 cigarettes per day and had an end-expiratory carbon monoxide concentration of at least 15 parts per million. The average age was 49 years, and the study population was evenly divided between men and women. Their mean score on the Fagerström Test for Cigarette Dependence was 6, indicating a high degree of dependence.
These participants were randomly assigned either to stop smoking abruptly on a quit date 2 weeks from baseline (355 patients) or to stop gradually, by reducing their cigarette use by half at 1 week from baseline, by half again during the second week, and completely by a quit date 2 weeks from baseline. The latter group was given a choice of three structured reduction programs to follow before the quit date, as well as nicotine patches and a choice of short-acting nicotine replacement products (gum, lozenges, nasal sprays, sublingual tablets, inhalators, or mouth sprays). The abrupt-cessation group received only the nicotine patches just before the quit day. Both groups received identical behavioral counseling, nicotine patches, and nicotine replacement products after the quit date.
The primary outcome measure, abstinence at 4 weeks, was achieved by 49% of the abrupt-cessation group, compared with only 39.2% of the gradual-cessation group (relative risk, 0.80). Thus, gradual cessation did not prove to be noninferior to abrupt cessation. The secondary outcome measure of abstinence at 6 months also was superior for the abrupt-cessation group (22%) over the gradual-cessation group (15.5%), Dr. Lindson-Hawley and her associates reported (Ann Intern Med. 2016 Mar 15. doi: 10.7326/M14-2805).
Most of the between-group difference was attributed to the fact that fewer participants in the gradual-cessation group actually attempted to quit on their quit date (61.4% vs. 71.0%). Relapse rates were similar between the two study groups at 4 weeks (36.2% vs. 31.0%) and at 6 months (74.8% vs. 69.1%).
“These results imply that, in clinical practice, we should encourage persons to stop smoking abruptly and not gradually,” Dr. Lindson-Hawley and her associates wrote. “However, gradual cessation programs could still be worthwhile if they increase the number of persons who try to quit or take up support and medication while trying.”
The study was supported by the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research United Kingdom, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Medical Research Council, and the National Institute for Health Research. Dr. Lindson-Hawley reported having no relevant financial disclosures; two of her associates reported ties to Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and McNeil.
by Da Hee Han, PharmD,
Coffee consumption may lower the risk of colorectal cancer, according to findings from a new study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.
Researchers from the University of Southern Califonia (USC) Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center of Keck Medicine conducted a large, population-based study in over 5,100 patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer within the past 6 months, as well as 4,000 controls with no history of colorectal cancer. Study patients reported daily consumption of
boiled (espresso), instant, decaffeinated and filtered coffee, as well as consumption of other liquids.
Stephen Gruber, MD, PhD, MPH, and senior author of the study, stated that drinking coffee was associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer, “and the more coffee consumed, the lower the risk.” Moderate coffee consumption (1-2 servings / day) led to a 26% reduction in the likelihood of developing colorectal cancer after adjusting for known risk factors. This risk decreased up to 50% when study patients drank >2.5 servings/day; the reduced risk was seen for all types of coffee.
Researchers explained the various elements in coffee that may contribute to colorectal health, citing how caffeine and polyphenol act as antioxidants and limit the growth of potential colon cancer cells. Additionally, the melanoidins generated during the roasting process may encourage colon mobility, and diterpenes may prevent cancer by enhancing defense against oxidative damage.
Though study findings were suggestive in reducing the risk of colorectal cancer, more data is needed before establishing coffee consumption as a preventive measure, they added.
By: NEIL SKOLNIK, M.D., AND YAN KIRIAKOV, D.O. familypracticenews.com,
Binge drinking is a common problem in adolescents as well as adults. In a 2013 survey, 60 million Americans, representing 22% of the population, 12 years of age and older engaged in binge drinking in the previous month. Among those 12-20 years of age, 14%, or one in seven, reported binge drinking. Depending on the survey, between one-third and one-half of all high school students currently drink alcohol. Among young people who drink, a higher proportion drink heavily than among adult drinkers. For teenagers who drink, 28%-60% report binge drinking. Among high school seniors, 1 in 10 report drinking more than 10 drinks in a row. The predominant liquor consumed by 13- to 20-year-olds is vodka (44% ), whereas beer is consumed by less than one-third of respondents. Underage drinkers typically get alcohol from adults of legal drinking age, and frequently drink in their own home or that of a friend. Clearly, this is an important, underappreciated problem that warrants clinical attention.
Binge drinking is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as the pattern of drinking required to bring the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08% or greater. For adolescents, the required amount of alcohol to achieve the same BAC is thought to be less than the amount required for adults. Binge drinking for adults has traditionally been defined as more than five drinks over a 2-hour period for men or more than four drinks over 2 hours for women. Different cutoffs have been suggested for youth in several studies but were not clearly defined for this analysis.
Alcohol consumption in adolescents is associated with adverse events, and this is only exacerbated by binge drinking. These events include, but are not limited to, engaging in higher-risk behaviors, such as impaired driving or being the passenger in a vehicle with an impaired driver; an increased risk of suicide or attempted suicide; and an increased risk of nonautomobile accidents that can lead to severe injury or drowning. Adolescents who start drinking before the age of 15 years are four times as likely to develop alcohol dependence as people who start drinking after 20 years of age. In addition, adolescents who engage in binge drinking have an increased rate of high-risk sexual activity, which may result in a sexually transmitted infection as well as an unplanned pregnancy. Adolescents who continue to imbibe during pregnancy risk the development of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Finally, adolescent binge drinkers are subject to the immediate effects of alcohol, including hangover, blackout, and alcohol poisoning.
GUIDANCE FOR THE PROVIDER
The AAP recommends screening every adolescent for substance abuse, but if time constraints exist, alcohol abuse only (Pediatrics. 2015;136:e718-26). The AAP has set up specific screening questions that are based upon the age group of the patient:
For elementary school students (ages 9-11) the following questions are appropriate:
• Do you have any friends who drank beer, wine, or any alcoholic drink in the past year?
• How about you? Have you ever had more than a few sips of beer, wine, or any drink with alcohol?
For patients in middle school (ages 11-14):
• Do you have any friends who drank beer, wine, or any alcohol-containing drink in the past year?
• How about you? Over the past year, how many days have you had where you’ve had more than a few sips of beer, wine, or any other alcohol?
For patients in high school (ages 14-18):
• Over the past year, how many days have you had where you’ve had more than a few sips of beer, wine, or any other alcohol?
• If your friends drink, how many drinks do they usually drink on an occasion?
The above questions help to risk stratify patients into three groups: low, moderate, and high risk. The guidelines do not make a recommendation on how to use these questions to risk stratify the patients. Low-risk patients receive brief counseling. Moderate-risk patients receive more intensive counseling as well as motivational interviewing. Motivational interviewing delivered over the course of one or more sessions has been found to be effective in reducing consumption of alcohol. Lastly, the high-risk group is given motivational interviewing, as well as possible referral.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Alcohol abuse in adolescents can have significant detrimental effects, both short and long term. The AAP recommends screening every adolescent for alcohol abuse and, if time permits, for other drug abuse as well, in order to prevent the morbidity and mortality associated with these substances. Interventions can range from brief counseling to motivational interviewing of adolescents at risk and finally referral to substance abuse specialists in the highest-risk groups
How Habitat for Humanity Went to Brooklyn and Poor Families Lost Their Homes
by Marcelo Rochabrun, ProPublica
N 2010, THE NEW YORK CITY AFFILIATE of Habitat for Humanity received a $21 million federal grant to work on a city neighborhood hit particularly hard by the foreclosure crisis and help stabilize it.
The funds would allow Habitat-NYC to launch the most ambitious project in its 32-year history. Its neighborhood pick was Bedford-Stuyvesant, a historically poor neighborhood in central Brooklyn, where the charity would focus on buying and renovating abandoned apartment buildings.
There was just one problem. With few vacancies in the gentrifying area, longtime tenants were pushed out of their apartments — some into homelessness — clearing the way for developers to sell to Habitat at a hefty profit, a ProPublica investigation has found.
Ultimately, Habitat’s project came with a cost: While scores of families gained new homes, other even needier ones were displaced.
Though Habitat promoted the properties it acquired to renovate as “long-vacant,” four of nine were still occupied shortly before the charity moved to buy them, records show. In two cases, Habitat targeted buildings just days after the last families living there moved out.
The deals, and what local Habitat executives said about how they were being accomplished, left some inside the charity so upset that at least two employees emailed anonymous complaints to the nonprofit’s international headquarters in Georgia.
“Habitat-NYC’s Director [of] Real Estate and Construction speaks openly about making deals with developers, saying that we can not buy buildings from them until they get rid of all their tenants,” one of the employees wrote in a May 2012 email, which was provided to ProPublica. “We are spending federal money to throw low-income New Yorkers out of buildings.”
ProPublica’s reconstruction of the events was based on hundreds of pages of internal Habitat emails and memos, as well as a review of public real estate records related to those buildings. ProPublica tracked down former tenants and used public complaints filed with the city’s housing department as well as court records to establish the buildings’ occupancy.
Between 2010 and 2011, at least seven Bed-Stuy families were pushed out of their rental apartments shortly before Habitat purchased them, ProPublica found. All had relied on federal housing subsidies or New York’s rent regulation laws to afford their units. None were evicted in court. Three of the families ended up homeless.
Internal emails show that Habitat officials were willing to consider buildings even when they were aware that they hadn’t been empty for long. “The Jefferson building I researched before is now vacant, and I am speaking with the owner,” Bill Bogdon, the director of real estate and construction, wrote to a colleague in 2011. “The challenge with this one is the recent occupancy.”
Overall, with privately raised funds heaped onto the $21 million grant, Habitat spent $43 million on the Bed-Stuy housing initiative.
Some $8.4 million went to buy six properties from developer Isaac Katz and limited liability corporations he represented. In 2006, New York’s Attorney General sued Katz and his associates over a scheme in which they allegedly sold blighted buildings to dozens of minority homebuyers at artificially inflated prices. Katz settled his share of the suit for $750,000, admitting no wrongdoing.
“There’s zero doubt in my mind that [Katz is] a bad guy and did bad things,” wrote then-Habitat-NYC Executive Director Josh Lockwood in a June 2011 email, responding to a colleague’s inquiry. “Agreed its unlikely that an investigative reporter would target us specifically, but obviously we’d need to be prepared in the event s/he does.”
One day after Lockwood wrote the email, Habitat’s Real Estate Investment Committeeapproved the purchase of three additional buildings from what they considered to be a group controlled by Katz for $6 million.
Katz’s attorney said his client never had an ownership stake in the buildings, and was merely facilitating their sale to Habitat.
One of the buildings was the elegant, but rundown brownstone on Madison Street where Tashemia Tyson, a single mother of three, rented a third-floor apartment with public assistance. Around three months before Habitat began discussions to acquire the building, Tyson said Katz began pressuring her to leave.
Katz’s attorney denied Tyson’s allegations, saying that his client “never spoke to Tyson” and that all the units were vacant when he facilitated the sale to Habitat.
The apartment had no heat. “He told us that just as they were going to fix the boiler, the pipes burst,” Tyson said. Reluctant to move, she said she relied on her gas stove for heat and hauled water buckets up the stairs to cook and to bathe for more than a week.
Finally, in February 2011, she said she accepted an offer from Katz of six months’ free rent at another building, but couldn’t afford the new apartment once the regular rent kicked in. Today, she sleeps in a shelter in the Bronx.
Habitat said in a statement that “at no point were we aware that any tenant had been forcibly moved or incentivized to move out of their homes in properties we were intending to purchase. Moreover, we would condemn the use of any such tactics.” The charity added that they had retained outside legal counsel to investigate complaints made about their handling of the federal grant, but said the lawyers found no evidence of wrongdoing and that Habitat International concurred with their finding.
A spokesperson for Habitat International said “the anonymous hotline submitter… did not have documentation and their concerns were speculative.”
Bogdon called the allegations made against him in the whistleblower email “hearsay and erroneous.” He also said that the Jefferson building he had discussed with his colleague was never purchased.
Lockwood, who is now the CEO of the Red Cross’s greater New York region, declined to comment.
Habitat acknowledged that they had struggled to find vacant properties in Bed-Stuy despite their extensive efforts and that “many of the [grant]-appropriate properties in that area were owned by Isaac Katz.”
Katz’s lawyer denies that he owned many properties.
But Habitat said that they “undertook numerous steps to ensure that our actions adhered to all grant guidelines.” They said they had paid no more than the appraised value for each property and that Katz and other developers signed good-faith agreements affirming that no tenants had been improperly displaced.
“If we are able to determine that any former residents were affected by such tactics, we are willing to work with them to connect them to affordable housing resources,” Habitat said.
Paul Aloe, an attorney representing Katz, said “Mr. Katz was in no way involved in any harassment or removal of any tenants from the properties.” Later, he added, “Mr. Katz only got involved at all when the subject buildings were vacant.”
Karen Haycox, the CEO of Habitat-NYC, who joined the charity in 2015, long after the Bed-Stuy deals, said in statement, “we are proud that Habitat for Humanity-New York’s participation in the [federal grant program] enabled our organization to help 105 families in need of affordable housing become homeowners.”
Four dozen of those families moved into new homes built on vacant land. Still, the majority of families helped by the project moved into units made available, in part, because others had been displaced.
Many of those who bought Habitat’s renovated homes earned around $50,000 a year — almost double the median income for renters in the neighborhood and about five times as much as the disability income of Charles Watson, a tenant who lived a floor below Tyson and ended up living on the streets after he was pushed out. Watson did not remember the name of the person who pushed him to leave.
“I didn’t want to move,” Watson said. “They wanted everybody out because they knew they were going to sell and make the apartments into condos. And they knew that would be a lot of money. That’s what it was all about, anyway: money.”
JOSH LOCKWOOD had a bold vision for Habitat-NYC when he was named its acting executive director in 2007.
“In the face of New York City’s crushing housing shortage, Habitat-NYC is adapting our volunteer building model to a large-scale project,” Lockwood was quoted saying in the charity’s summer newsletter that year.
For most of its history, Habitat-NYC built only a handful of single-family homes annually. It was a model pioneered by Habitat International, the Christian charity that sprung to fame in the 1980s thanks in part to former President Jimmy Carter’s close involvement.
Under Lockwood’s leadership, the charity moved into large-scale construction, breaking ground on a 41-unit complex in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn. It was celebrated as the largest building project ever undertaken by a Habitat affiliate in the United States.
Lockwood was a rising star in the nonprofit world. In 2010, Crain’s New York Businesshonored Lockwood as one of the city’s “40 under 40.”
The federal grant was crucial in Lockwood’s expansion plans. Now, Habitat would develop more than 100 units in one project. But taking the funds, part of the Obama administration’s stimulus package, would require Habitat to modify another aspect of its building model.
In the past, Habitat acquired vacant lots and buildings from the city at nominal prices. With the federal grant money, Habitat would be going on the open market for the first time. The nonprofit also had to move forward on an accelerated timeline as it had agreed to spend half of the $21 million grant by the end of 2011, only a year and a half after receiving access to the money.
On the surface, it made sense that Habitat chose to work in Bed-Stuy. The neighborhood had the highest foreclosure rate of multifamily rental properties in the city, according to a report by New York University’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, and Habitat had worked in the area.
But according to city data, the neighborhood had few vacancies. That’s because tenants who live in old, multifamily buildings are usually protected from eviction. New York’s rent regulation laws afford those tenants the right to renew their leases even in the case of foreclosure.
All seven families who moved shortly before Habitat bought their buildings lived in rent-regulated units.
“If I were looking for vacant buildings as a result of the foreclosure crisis Bed-Stuy would not have been the first place to look,” said Harold Shultz, a former deputy commissioner at the city’s housing department.
The rules governing the grant did not set out how long a property had to be vacant to be eligible for acquisition, but federal officials did not want their money to entice developers to empty out buildings to score a sale.
During a web seminar with the federal department of Housing and Urban Development in June 2010, a Habitat-NYC employee asked, according to a transcript of the meeting, if it would be okay to make an offer on an occupied building where “the tenants were not all paying their rent and there might be some eviction proceedings going on.”
“I see that as a big problem,” an official replied. If Habitat were to buy that property, he explained, the federal funds would be linked to the eviction of tenants.
By the end of the month, Habitat began targeting several buildings for acquisition. They worked with a real estate broker named Jordan Bardach, who knew Isaac Katz. At the time, Katz was still paying off his settlement to the attorney general.
Bardach has operated several ventures under the name “Imagine.” One of them, Imagine Equities, advertises services on its website to help “remove tenants” in case of “future building renovations and upgrades.” Another, Imagine Living, lists on its website the buildings Habitat ultimately purchased. In 2013, he and Katz developed an app that “speeds up” the process for landlords to get tenants “paying rent again or evicted swiftly.”
Through a lawyer, Bardach said “Habitat reached out to me because of my general experience and asked for assistance in acquisitions.”
Three of the buildings Habitat acquired with Bardach’s help were long vacant. But another, 849 Halsey St., still had three tenants shortly before Habitat targeted it for acquisition in late June, according to city housing records, and letters mailed to these tenants that were obtained by ProPublica.
Twana Midgette said she left the building in June 2010 after she found what looked like an eviction notice on her door. “Because of the conditions of the building, I didn’t even put up a fight, and I didn’t have anyone to contact,” Midgette said. She now lives in upstate New York, where she said she continues to pay rent with public assistance.
Melinda Ortiz remained as long as she could. “They said they wanted to gut the apartments. They even started working on the apartments downstairs,” she said. “They said that they weren’t going to accept any more money.” Ortiz left shortly after Midgette and has spent the past few years moving from apartment to apartment.
David Coachman, a tenant who lived in a rent-stabilized unit, said he left on June 12, after accepting a $10,000 settlement. Four days later, a Habitat employee visited the property, HUD records show. “They wanted me out because they wanted the whole building empty,” he said. Today, Coachman lives with his son in Flatbush, Brooklyn.
On July 19, 2010, Katz signed a document that said he would notify Habitat if there had been tenants at 849 Halsey in the past three months and would “not order current occupant(s) to move, or fail to renew a lease, in order to sell the property to us as vacant.”
That was a little more than a month after the three tenants left.
Habitat declined to say whether Katz had told them about the tenants when he signed the document.
The tenants all said they had been pressured to leave, but do not remember the names of the people who spoke to them. Katz’s attorney told ProPublica his client hadn’t purchased the building until early July. “When Katz purchased the building, it was vacant,” he said.
If Habitat had independently tried to verify the occupancy history of the building, they might have found housing records that documented a call from Ortiz’s apartment to register complaints of bedbugs, mold and a broken banister. The date of the call was June 1, 2010 — 15 days before a Habitat official first visited the property.
“I found all the units to be va
That month, Katz also sold a building at 203 Marion St. to the charity for about $620,000.
It was a remarkably quick and lucrative flip. Katz had purchased the six-unit property earlier that day for about $380,000 from Lena and Percy Spellman, an elderly African American couple who had owned it since 1983.
Internal Habitat documents provided to ProPublica show that Habitat first targeted the property for acquisition the previous June, when it was still owned by the Spellmans.
Katz’s lawyer said this was “incorrect,” but did not elaborate.
Property records show that the Spellmans did not sign a contract agreeing to sell the property to Katz until July 30.
“I’m not very up to date on real estate law, but I don’t know how you can sell something you don’t own,” said Jerome Spellman, the son of the building’s longtime owners. “And that’s what he did.”
Habitat officials deny this was the case. In a statement, they said Katz already had a binding contract in hand when they first learned about the property. “There was no legal way Habitat-NYC could have directly purchased the property from the Spellmans,” they said.
Michael Kozek, a real estate lawyer, who reviewed the documents for ProPublica, said the Spellmans may have cause for complaint.
“The circumstances indicate something suspect,” he said. “It appears that the Spellmans were deprived of the full value of their property.” cant,” the official wrote to HUD.
Katz’s LLC closed on the sale of 849 Halsey to Habitat in late January 2011.
Chris Iliades, MD,
Wider availability of medical marijuana in Colorado starting in 2009 coincided with an increase in calls to poison control centers and hospital discharges, according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.1
Researchers led by Jonathan M. Davis, PhD, from the University of Denver, found that the public health effects were significant — a 57% increase (95% CI, 43.4 – 72.0%, P < .001) in marijuana-coded hospital discharges from 2007 to 2013, and a 56% increase (95% CI, 49.0 – 62.8%, P < .001) in calls to poison control centers after 2009.
Colorado voters chose to legalize marijuana for recreational use in 2012, and the findings represent a cautionary tale for states that have voted or will be voting on this issue.
“In 2009 there was a big change. In that year, the Department of Justice instructed federal prosecutors not to focus on individuals who were in compliance with state marijuana laws. People no longer had to worry about getting in trouble with the [Drug Enforcement Administration],” Dr Davis toldClinical Pain Advisor.
A Change in Public Perception
Analysis of Colorado records showed that poison control calls for marijuana increased by 0.8% per month after 2009 (95% CI, 0.2 – 1.4%; P <.01, and hospital discharges coded as marijuana dependence increased 1% each month from 2007 to 2013 (95% CI, 0.8 – 1.1%, P < .001).
The monthly number of applications for medical marijuana increased more than 20-fold in 2009 alone, from 495 in January to over 10,000 by December. Significantly, there was 1 dependency-related hospital discharge for every 3.159 (95% CI, 2.465 – 3853; P < .001) medical marijuana applications.
Admissions for marijuana dependence treatment showed the opposite trend, decreasing by 0.7% (95% CI, 0.9 – 0.5%, P < .001) per month after 2009, accompanied by a 26% decrease in marijuana arrests (95% CI, 31.1 – 20.3%, P < .001).
“The decrease in treatment probably reflects the decrease in arrests [and] mandatory treatment sentencing. It was probably not a personal choice to avoid treatment,” Dr Davis explained.
“When taken with changes suggesting a decrease in the perceived risk of marijuana, these factors may mark increased use and increased acceptance of marijuana,” the authors noted.
Moving Towards Full Legalization
Massachusetts legalized medical marijuana in 2013, and the issue of recreational marijuana use will go before voters in 2016.
“If medical marijuana was the midterm exam, we have failed miserably. If full legalization is the final exam, we are definitely not ready,” Kevin P. Hill, MD, director of substance abuse service at McLean Hospital and assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in Boston, told Clinical Pain Advisor.
Massachusetts law allows quantities of marijuana that are much too high, for indications that are not specific, Dr. Hill noted.
As of March 2016, the District of Columbia and 23 other states have legalized medical marijuana. Policies differ by state, and can best be described as extremely varied; possession limits range from 1 to 24 ounces.
Moreover, questions remain as to whether botanically-derived medical marijuana offers clinical benefit over pharmaceutical-grade THC, its active ingredient. Also known as cannabinoids, prescription THC products — dronabinol and nabilone — have been legally available since 1985.
“Many doctors see the whole medical marijuana movement as a scam. They don’t see enough evidence to support it. On the other hand, we only have two cannabinoids — and there are over 80 cannabinoids in marijuana smoke,” Dr Hill pointed out.
According to the National Cancer Institute, several controlled trials support the use of cannabinoids for nausea and vomiting, but there is insufficient evidence to support the use of cannabis.3 In a recent randomized controlled study (N=30), dronabinol provided a longer analgesic effect than smoked marijuana, with lower abuse-related subjective effects.4
Full Impact Still Unknown
The Colorado study focused on hospital discharges and poison control calls, but did not capture the effects of full legalization, including open sale, which went into effect in 2014.
“We now have a cohort of heavy smokers, who smoke from 5 to 10 times per day. Studies of [this population] may give us some valuable data. We also need to study the effects of marijuana legalization on alcohol and other drug abuse. It may be a gateway drug, or it may decrease more dangerous drug abuse. We need the studies,” Dr Davis said.
“Studies will be critical for moving forward. We need a medical marijuana registry. We need prospective evidence on the effect of legalization on substance abuse, overall functional capacity, and hospital care facility use,” Dr Hill added.
Education is Key
According to Dr Hill, many clinicians remain hesitant to prescribe medical marijuana.
“They are understandably afraid. They are afraid of putting their medical licenses on the line for a treatment with limited evidence for effectiveness,” Dr Hill said.
“There may be a whole host of conditions for medical marijuana [but] for now [its] role is limited, and it would be a good idea to try a cannabinoid before resorting to smoked marijuana,” Dr Hill advised.
Still, medical and recreational use of marijuana is expected to rise, and clinicians should be aware of indications, state regulations, and treatment options, Dr Davis pointed out.
Although it may be too late to put the genie back in the bottle when it comes to medical marijuana, only 4 states have full legalization thus far.
“We may still have time to learn enough to do this in a smart way and limit the risks,” Dr Hill said, noting that the Colorado Department of Health has begun issuing public health messages regarding the dangers of underage marijuana use, driving under the influence, and other safety issues.
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