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Men who care

Caregivers’ dedication merits attention, awards

by Brittney Gathen

Special to The New Tri-State Defender

November is National Family Caregivers Month, which focuses on the challenges family caregivers face. The theme – “Care Comes Home” – zeroes in on home caregiving, shining a light on the toll on caregivers.

Although studies show that approximately 66 percent of caregivers are women, men are increasingly taking on the role. That fact factored into the decision that prompted Caregivers Respite, a local organization that helps caregivers take better care of themselves and their loved ones, to honor Reed Hayslett and Bryan Morton.

During the ninth annual Caregiver’s Rest Conference held Nov. 11 at The Church Health Center, Hayslett and Morton each won the Caregivers Respite Caregiver of the Year Award. 

“It felt good to receive the award and (for) them to recognize me, but I don’t feel like a reward was necessary because maybe I was raised in that type of environment where if certain things were needed in your family, you just did it,” said Haysett, who cares for his brother, T.W. Hayslett, who has diabetes, is in a wheelchair and has a defibrillator in his heart.

Hayslett’s exposure to caregiving includes having attended a caregiver support group to support his wife as she cared for her mother. He now finds it rewarding to contribute to his brother’s well being, even though he has to do some things without the aid of equipment.

Hayslett’s brother appreciates his dedication.

“A lot of brothers wouldn’t do that,” he said. “You have families now that are kind of split.”

Morton, who works at HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital, cares for his wife and stepdaughter, who both have chronic conditions. He has worked things out with his work schedule and is quick to acknowledge the strong support system and spiritual life that he relies upon.

“As long as my wife and daughter are healthy, that’s my reward – to see that I’ll be there for them,” said Morton, who also was a caregiver for his now deceased first wife as she battled Multiple Sclerosis and underwent two surgeries. He looks at caregiving as a normal job, adding that he tries to be strong and motivational for his family.

Morton’s wife, Davida Morton, whose health challenges include lupus, admires his dedication and nominated him for the award. She spoke of his dedicated care of her and her daughter, who has fibromyalgia.

“He’ll catch a ride, he’ll walk to wherever we are, he’ll catch the trolley to make sure he gets to us, to make sure we’re OK, and that we have medical treatment,” Davida Morton said. “When I’m in pain, unlike in the last marriage, he understands me and my daughter’s conditions.”

Bryan Morton also cooks and makes sure that his wife and her daughter get their medications filled, get to the doctor and get their rest.

“He’s very motivational. On my days when I don’t feel so well, he always has something positive to say to me and my daughter,” Morton said. “He’s pushing us to live beyond whatever conditions that we’re dealing with.”

Janice Williams founded Caregivers Respite in 2010. She started the conference out of her experience of caring for her father.

“It made me realize all the things that they (caregivers) go through, and I did not want anyone else to have to go through that,” Williams said.

At work in the nursing field since 1995, Williams has been an RN since 2009. Her medical background notwithstanding, she had to step into a different role as a caregiver.

“It’s a different mindset, it’s a different set of emotional feelings, and it’s different in the amount of time. It’s a very consuming job because you give up things and assume a responsibility to meet someone else’s needs, even if you’re not prepared for it,” Williams said.

The purpose of the conference was to recognize the countless sacrifices that caregivers give on a daily basis. Their health received major emphasis. 

“It’s important to make sure that they’re taking care of as well, so they can do the things they need to do for their loved ones properly,” Williams said. “They cannot take care of other people unless they take care of themselves. We’ve learned if they get a break, they can make it.”

Williams hopes that Caregivers Respite can continue to help dedicated caregivers such as Hayslett and Morton. In January, the organization will host an event for working family caregivers.

“I want to make sure that everything a caregiver needs, they can get,” Williams said.

Ferguson case highlights need for national data on police shootings

Despite skepticism about police conduct in African-American and Latino communities – reflected in viral hashtags like #HandsUpDontShoot – there are no reliable statistics on how often police kill civilians of any race.

The Department of Justice and the FBI keep some numbers, but the nation’s nearly 18,000 law enforcement agencies aren’t required to report these deaths or complaints against officers.

by Adeshina Emmanuel

The Chicago Reporter

Michael Brown. Rekia Boyd. Oscar Grant.

They were all unarmed black youth at the center of high-profile shootings that spurred protests about police use of excessive force and reignited debates about police relations with communities of color. Brown was shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., in August. Boyd was shot by an off-duty police officer in Chicago in 2012. Grant was shot by a transit cop in Oakland, Calif., five years ago. 

Brown’s death at the hands of police officer Darren Wilson, who was not indicted by a St. Louis grand jury on Monday, has become the focal point for a growing national movement to address allegations of police brutality and violence. Yet despite skepticism about police conduct in African-American and Latino communities – reflected in viral hashtags like #HandsUpDontShoot – there are no reliable statistics on how often police kill civilians of any race. The Department of Justice and the FBI keep some numbers, but the nation’s nearly 18,000 law enforcement agencies aren’t required to report these deaths or complaints against officers.

Those on the frontlines in Ferguson, advocates for greater police accountability and policing experts say the numbers could reveal the extent of police misconduct nationwide and be a catalyst for reform.

The lack of available statistics “hides the truth and scope of this problem, which is real, vast – and not new,” said Christina Swarns, the chief litigator for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, in an interview before the grand jury decision.

“Ferguson obviously brought the crisis in focus, but we and others across the country have been deeply concerned at the rate at which African-Americans are hurt and killed in the course of law-enforcement encounters. The absence of the documentation really undermines the effort to expose how horrific this is, because the instinct is for many people to characterize these things as one-offs and aberrations.”

Lack of data on police use of deadly force

Between 2008 and 2013, the FBI recorded 2,480 “justifiable homicides” by police officers — an average of 413 homicides a year. The statistics, which are tracked via the agency's Uniform Crime Reporting Program, constitute the closest thing to a federal database of police shootings.

However, the FBI’s count and definition of a justifiable homicide, which includes deaths by firearms, other weapons and physical attacks, is based on police investigations, not findings from judicial bodies or medical examiners. In addition, only about 750 of the nation’s nearly 18,000 law enforcement agencies, or 4 percent, submit their numbers. The Chicago and Rockford police departments are the only two police agencies in the state that report their justifiable homicides, according to Illinois Uniform Crime Reporting Program Manager Terri Hickman. The state has about 900 law enforcement agencies.

Researchers contend that the FBI figures are inherently flawed, and the number of deaths is underreported.

Most police officers never discharge their guns over the course of their careers, statistics indicate. And experts say that even if all law-enforcement departments contributed to the report, many small- and medium-sized departments would likely have only a few or no shootings to disclose.

That fact does little to dissuade activists from pressing for more police transparency.

Charlene Carruthers, national coordinator of the Black Youth Project 100, based in Chicago, said she and other black Chicagoans don’t need convincing that the nation must curb civilian deaths at the hands of police. But some people “holding political and economic power” aren’t convinced, she said, making national data on the deaths crucial to “organize and change the system as it is.”

Brown’s death and the national conversation around excessive police force have motivated activists to “deepen our analysis of what’s happening here,” said Carruthers, who has traveled to Ferguson as part of the group’s work to organize black youth.

(Courtesy of New America Media)

Identity thieves on the prowl

You need protection. Here are some tips.

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security’s Identity Crimes Unit are urging all citizens to protect themselves against identity crimes, including theft and fraud, this holiday season.

“Millions of shoppers will take advantage of ‘Black Friday’ or ‘Cyber Monday’ holiday sales this year. We just want to encourage consumers to take extra precautions to prevent fraudulent use of their personal information,” Tennessee Highway Patrol Major Stacy Williams said. He oversees the department’s Identity Crimes Unit. 

According to Javelin Strategy and Research, 13.1 million consumers suffered identity fraud in 2013. That’s an increase of 500,000 from the previous year and marks the second highest level on record. It was also revealed that 44 percent of all fraud involved an online transaction.

“Internet scammers or hackers can easily access your private data, if you’re not careful.  Citizens should make sure web sites are secure before entering any personal or financial information,” Williams said.

In 2013, identity theft accounted for 14 percent of all complaints recorded by the Federal Trade Commission, leading the list of top consumer complaints.

The Identity Crimes Unit offers these tips to help keep holiday shoppers safe:

When paying by credit card:

· Don’t allow clerks to put your receipts in your bag; carry them in your wallet instead where they are safer and less likely to fall out.

· Watch cashiers, waiters and bartenders, ensuring that they don't "skim" or save your card number for later use.

Paying by check:

· Never allow merchants to write your social security number on the check. In many states, it is illegal.

· Use a gel ink pen – preferably black – to write checks, which will permeate the fibers and make it difficult for the check to be cleaned and reused.

Shopping online:

· Be careful of wireless Internet connections. Only use those that require a security key or certificate.

· Shop on secure, reputable sites only; https:// at the beginning of the URL indicates a secure site.

· Never offer personal information, especially your social security number.

· Leave suspicious websites immediately.

· Read customer reviews before ordering.

· Use a credit card and not a debit card. This protects your personal funds and prevents thieves from gaining access to funds in your bank account.

General tips:

· Avoid carrying a social security card, birth certificate, passport, bank information or paychecks when hitting the stores.

· Check your bank statements, credit card bills and credit reports often. This will help to avoid any efforts to use your identity. 

(Download a resource kit for identity theft victims from http://www.tn.gov/safety/ICU.shtml.)


The Office @ Uptown

ON OUR WAY TO WEALTHY: A unique experience where patrons can enjoy a relaxed meal or participate in a working lunch in a conference room

The Office @ Uptown 

No one loves a good restaurant more than I do. I am most impressed with creative concepts and unique presentations. The Office @ Uptown has a winner on its hands.

We all have had to eat at our desk on more than one occasion, but The Office @ Uptown has created a unique experience where patrons can enjoy a relaxed meal or participate in a working lunch in a conference room. Soups, sandwiches and salads are all prepared to perfection. 

The business model reflects the vision of Valerie Peavy.

Carlee McCullough: Thank you for taking the time to share with our readers your experience and knowledge. Tell us about Valerie Peavy?

Valerie Peavy: I am from South Memphis, a graduate of the University of Memphis and Southside High School. I have over 30 years experience in business with 11 ½ years in corporate and more than 20 years as an entrepreneur, first as an IT provider and now nearly two years in the hospitality industry. I am married to Jeff Harrison and I am the proud mother of two sons, Brian Garrett and Eric Peavy, one daughter-in-law, Sara Garrett, and one granddaughter, Bria Rose. My kids live in Houston, Texas, and Washington, D.C., and I visit them as often as I can, especially when I’m in Houston to see my granddaughter. 

C.M.: How did you get into the restaurant business?

V.P.: I really did not have plans to be in the restaurant business when we bought the building. It was while my husband and I were renovating the building that my youngest son Eric said he thought it would a perfect spot for a café. He had just returned from France and had experienced all the wonderful neighborhood cafés in Paris and thought this location would be a good fit for one. My comment to him was that if, and when, it becomes one he would run it. 

It was only as we began to improve the building that we saw the potential to do more than just have this space as an office for our businesses. We first opened the business up in October 2012 and offered basic office services while we developed the café. Then in April 2013 we opened up the café.

C.M.: How did you arrive at The Office@Uptown concept?

V.P.: It truly grew organically, and by that I mean it grew as a result of us seeing the need. We first saw that in Uptown there was no place to fax or copy documents. With us having a copier, printers, and a fax machine, we said let’s offer basic office services along with some shared office amenities. As we looked for variety in food options for lunch, Jeff was renovating our building. It was then we found there were limitations in this area as well. So we thought back to what Eric had said and said let’s go for it. 

At first it seemed to family and friends that this would not work merging two very different service businesses but I just knew in my heart that it would. Every step of this process I sought confirmation that we were on the right path and I must say God answered and still answers in such positive ways that we are in the right place.

C.M.: What inspired you to get into the restaurant business?

V.P.: I can’t say I was inspired. I often tell people that I have never uttered the words “one day I would like to own a restaurant,” because I never once thought about owning, running or working in a restaurant. I really believe this is part of the plan for my life. Because I am working harder than I have ever, and I mean ever worked in my life and I absolutely love it.

This time last year I was being treated for cancer and never once thought we had made a mistake in opening this business. God gave me complete peace in this decision. Jeff and I have been blessed tremendously by all the people we have met over the past couple of years. Memphis is truly a wonderful place and our customers are the best. 

C.M.: Do you have any advice for someone looking to get into the restaurant business?

V.P.: Do your homework and get someone to advise you on the finer points of the business. Rodney Shelton was a great asset to us as we planned and opened the business. His expertise helped. I really mean saved us from making some crucial mistakes. Also, find good people with great attitudes to be a part of your team. I have the best staff. They make me look good every day.

C.M.: Any closing remarks?

V.P.: I want everyone to know The Office@Uptown is located in one of the best communities in Memphis.  Uptown has great places to live and work in this part of Downtown Memphis. 

(Valerie Colvin Peavy can be reached at (901) 522-1905, by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , or log onto www.theofficeatuptown.com.)

(Contact Carlee McCullough, Esq. at 2887 S. Mendenhall, Suite 2 or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .)

African Americans still devastated by HIV/AIDS

SPECIAL REPORT: As we prepare to commemorate World AIDS Day on Monday, Dec. 1, this is a good time to look at how the epidemic continues to devastate our community.

As we prepare to commemorate World AIDS Day on Monday, Dec. 1, this is a good time to look at how the epidemic continues to devastate our community.

A fact sheet by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation noted, “Black Americans have been disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS since the epidemic’s beginning, and that disparity has deepened over time. Blacks account for more new HIV infections, people estimated to be living with HIV disease, and HIV-related deaths than any other racial/ethnic group in the U.S.”

Fact sheets by CDC and Kaiser also show:

Today, there are more than 1.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S., including more than 506,000 who are African American.

Although African Americans represent only 12 percent of the U.S. population, they accounted for 44 percent of new HIV infections and an estimated 44 percent of people living with HIV in 2010.

The rate of new HIV infections per 100,000 among African-American adults/adolescents (68.9) was nearly eight times that of whites (8.7) and more than twice that of Latinos (27.5) in 2010.

The rate for African-American men (103.6) was the highest of any group, more than twice that of Latino men (45.5), the second highest group. African-American women (38.1) had the third highest rate overall, and the highest among women.

In 2010, African-American gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men represented an estimated 72 percent (10,600) of new infections among all African-American men and 36 percent of an estimated 29,800 new HIV infections among all gay and bisexual men. More new HIV infections (4,800) occurred among young African-American gay and bisexual men (aged 13-24) than any other subgroup of gay and bisexual men.

In 2010, African-American women accounted for 6,100 (29 percent) of the estimated new HIV infections among all adult and adolescent African Americans. This number represents a decrease of 21 percent since 2008. Most new HIV infections among African-American women (87 percent; 5,300) are attributed to heterosexual contact. The estimated rate of new HIV infections for African-American women (38.1/100,000 population) was 20 times that of white women and almost five times that of Hispanic/Latino women.

Of HIV diagnoses among 13 to 19 year olds, almost 70 percent are to African-American teens, even though they constitute approximately 16 percent of the adolescent population in the U.S.

HIV was the fifth leading cause of death for African-American men and the seventh for African-American women, ages 25-44, in 2010, which is higher than any other racial or ethnic group.

Not surprisingly, most of the African-American HIV/AIDs cases are in the South, where the majority of African Americans live.

The Kaiser fact sheet observed, “Regionally, the South accounts for the majority of blacks newly diagnosed with HIV (61 percent in 2011) and blacks living with an HIV diagnosis at the end of 2010 (55 percent).

“HIV diagnoses among blacks are clustered in a handful of states, with 10 states accounting for the majority (68 percent) of blacks living with an HIV diagnosis at the end of 2010. New York and Florida top the list. While the District of Columbia had fewer blacks living with an HIV diagnosis in 2010 (10,995), it had the highest rate of blacks living with an HIV diagnosis at the end of 2010 (4,260.3 per 100,000); a rate more than 3 times the national rate for blacks (1,242.4).

“Ten large metropolitan areas accounted for over half (59 percent) of blacks living with an HIV diagnosis at the end of 2009. The New York and Miami metropolitan areas had the greatest numbers of blacks living with an HIV diagnosis.”

Like most females, African-American women are more likely to have been infected through heterosexual transmission than their white counterparts, who are more likely to have been infected through drug use than African-American women.

Though males are more likely to have been infected through sex with other men, heterosexual transmission and injection of drugs account for a greater share of new infections among African-American men than white men.

Although 75 percent of African Americans in the 18-64 age group report having been tested for HIV  the – the highest of any group – within the last 12 months,  17 percent of African Americans living with HIV do not know they are infected. That’s crucial because the sooner an HIV-positive person enters treatment, the better chance he or she has of living a long, relatively normal life.

Overall, HIV is not at the high levels it was in the 1980s, but we are a long way from eradicating this scourge. 

(George E. Curry is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service (NNPA.) He can be reached via www.georgecurry.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/currygeorge and George E. Curry Fan Page on Facebook.)