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Alyson Renaldo Headshot

Condoms in the Foyer

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All right, it's time for me to set the record straight because I'm getting sick of feeling cheap and dirty. I mean just because a girl has 12,000 condoms in her foyer doesn't mean she's loose. It may however mean she has some explaining to do, so I think I'll go ahead and do that.

However, before I do offer my reasonable explanation, I'd like to acknowledge all the men out there who, as a result of knowing about the numerous prophylactics in my home offered to take me out, or explicitly tell me what they're 'in to', asked what I was 'in to' or if I was double jointed, please know that I'm going to miss all that classy, wholesome attention.

I'm sure everyone has heard this line before, but the condoms aren't mine. Some really cool people at Undercover Condoms online safe sex store donated them to my foundation for our safe-sex initiative in Guyana, South America. The condoms are in my foyer because I keep my office and my home in general way too hot. Condoms are supposed to be stored in a cool, dry place; in my house that would be the foyer. I would love nothing more than to have them tucked away somewhere, like a basement, but my home in Los Angeles does not have a basement, so there you have it, my foyer: hardwood floors, a couple pairs of shoes and 12,000 condoms.

Apart from some of the inappropriate attention I've been getting, I'm thrilled about the implications of this donation; it means that the safe-sex initiative has resumed. I had put the project on hold after my collaborator and friend Dr. Desrey Fox was killed in a car collision in Guyana some months back. I began this initiative with her help. I would send the shipments of safe-sex paraphernalia to the country and she, as Minister of Education, would distribute them during one of her trips through the cities and towns. It took me a while to get my head around the idea of continuing without her, but I understand that the best way to honor my friend is to continue the efforts.

As I'm sure it's evident, but this initiative is rather personal to me. Guyana is the country of my mother's birth and my cultural heritage. When I found out that Guyana was amongst the highest in the Caribbean for prevalence of HIV, I wanted do my part in reversing that trend.
My aim and motivations are obvious, but I could not help wondering why a trendy online safe-sex store would look to partner in this particular endeavour, so, on National Condom Day (off the charts on the 'irony' scale) I decided to ask Robert Drumm, the marketing manager, how they came to support this initiative. Now, let me admit that in preparation for my conversation with Robert I braced myself. There was indeed a possibility that I was about to be on the receiving end of some over used, pre-packaged, surfaced, well groomed corporate responsibility speak, but as Robert answered my questions, I soon realised there was to be nothing of the kind.

"It appealed to us to offer resources to underserved areas of the world." He told me. "Also, we evaluated your work as a foundation and appreciated your efforts." Wow, I thought, nothing like an unexpected compliment, but before I savour it let me continue to probe.

"You know Bob," I said, "I don't remember seeing your company's published social responsibility agenda anywhere, is this your company's first endeavour into philanthropy?" "Not at all," he continued, "we get daily requests for donations. It's just that doing 'good' is not something that needs to be published. We feel a responsibility to help where we can and, that's it."

Well there you have it; sometimes things are as genuine as they seem. We are inundated with so much negativity that we consider ourselves irresponsible if we do not unearth the subterfuge in even the most seemingly positive situations of life.

Well, Undercover Condoms and CautionWear, thanks for putting condoms in my foyer. Later this year, when my team and I go down to Guyana to distribute your donation to people who will be deeply grateful for the option to proceed safely, I'll be ever mindful that this opportunity has come about because there are people of means who like to "help where they can and that's it." Well said Bob.