SPARTANBURG, SC — SAFE Homes and Bell Atlantic Mobile have joined together to donate five wireless phones to victims of domestic violence for reporting emergency situations.
"Victims of domestic violence are vulnerable to threatening situations just about anywhere -- in their cars, on the street, even in their homes -- and they often don't have immediate access to traditional landline phones in such emergencies," said Jerry Fountain, Bell Atlantic Mobile vice president -- Southeast Region. "But, with wireless technology, we can give the assurance and the added security of knowing that help is only a wireless phone call away -- enabling them to go to work, move about more freely within the community and not worry about being without help."
Fountain was joined today by Lynn Hawkins, SAFE Homes' executive director, to announce the donation of cellular phones to SAFE Homes. SAFE Homes is the fifth organization to receive loaned cellular phones to help in the prevention of domestic violence.
The donation of the five wireless phones is part of an ongoing program called "Wireless at Work...". The company has already donated cellular phones and service to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's Domestic Violence Section in Charlotte, North Carolina, the Hall County Solicitor's Office in Georgia, Sistercare, Inc. in Columbia, South Carolina, and Safe Harbor women's shelter in Greenville, South Carolina.
In addition to the donation of wireless phones, Bell Atlantic Mobile will also provide SAFE Homes with free voice mail boxes as part of the company's HopeLine® charitable initiative. HopeLine gives individuals, primarily homeless and domestic violence victims, who do not have access to a personal phone line a single point of contact for communicating with prospective employers and landlords, child and health care providers and family members.
SAFE Homes will administer both programs, including training domestic violence victims in the use of wireless phones and voice mail boxes, as well as monitoring the use of both services. Bell Atlantic Mobile has committed to donating the wireless phones, airtime and voice mail services.
The HopeLine® and "Wireless at Work..." initiatives are part of Bell Atlantic Mobile's corporate commitment to increasing the number of phones, voice mail boxes and airtime that it donates to community organizations. This year the company has earmarked $100,000 to continue to help domestic violence victims by providing wireless technology solutions. In addition, Bell Atlantic Mobile has pledged $10,000 to the Family Violence Prevention Fund, one of the nation's leading organizations working to improve health, judicial and public policy responses to domestic violence.
"The Bell Atlantic Mobile loaner phones and voice mail box services are an enormous tool in providing more secure situations for our clients," said Lynn Hawkins. "The most dangerous time for a domestic violence victim is when she has left her abuser. Even with protective orders and bond conditions, the victim is at risk. It is so easy for abusers to disable regular telephones; these wireless phones provide both a portable and tamper- proof lifeline."
SAFE Homes provides a safe place for victims of domestic violence and sexual violence to receive assistance, advocacy, crisis counseling and emergency shelter. In 1997, the organization provided over 4,014 Upstate families with domestic violence services. Additionally, SAFE Homes has a current volunteer base of over 400 people, who helped provide 19,740 total hours of service last year.
"Domestic violence victims often feel alone and appreciate any tools that help them stay connected to the outside world. We are certain the wireless phones will add a sense of security to those victims in danger," said Hawkins. "It's a true comfort to battered women knowing that help is only a phone call away no matter where they are."