GREENVILLE, S.C. — Bell Atlantic Mobile is looking for local social service organizations to participate in programs that use wireless technology to help those most in need -- victims of domestic violence and the homeless. More than 40 organizations throughout North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia are already involved in the company's HopeLine®, the Domestic Violence Initiative and Phone Recycling programs.
Since 1995, Bell Atlantic Mobile has helped thousands of individuals and invested more than $124,000 into its "Wireless at Work..." program in the Southeast region. The company's HopeLine program continues to help hundreds of homeless individuals through free access to wireless voice mail boxes, providing a better way to search for jobs, housing, and other services. Almost 600 voice mail boxes have been donated in the last three years.
"Several years ago we recognized that for homeless men and women to get back on their feet, they needed a direct connection, one which sidesteps the stigma of being homeless and/or phoneless," said Jerry Fountain, vice president, Bell Atlantic Mobile's Southeast Region. "HopeLine uses wireless voice mail technology to offer a bridge for self-improvement, helping people obtain jobs, find new homes, even receive medical attention."
The company's Domestic Violence Initiative provides wireless phones and HopeLine wireless voice mail to domestic violence shelters enabling battered women to quickly dial 9-1-1 and other emergency numbers to call for police or medical attention 24 hours a day. Twenty organizations in the Southeast region are now involved in the program, and more than 150 phones have been donated in the past three years in the region.
"We hope the wireless phones donated through our Domestic Violence Initiative will never have to be used to report an emergency, but if a domestic violence victim feels threatened, she can rest assured help will be on the way," Fountain said. "As a corporate leader in the fight against domestic violence, we're trying to raise public awareness about this serious issue and offer this service to organizations that will help victims break the cycle of domestic violence and rebuild their lives."
Trena Palmer, of the Salvation Army Women's Shelter in Charlotte, N.C., knows first-hand what HopeLine means to homeless men and women.
"With the use of voice mail boxes, clients at our shelter have been able to access resources with greater ease and significantly less stigma," Palmer said. "HopeLine provides the personal, confidential communication these individuals need to get their lives back on track. It's been extremely successful for our clients."
Even with protective orders and bond conditions, victims of domestic violence are at risk because abusers can and tend to disable their victims' landline phones, said Terry Looper, executive director of the Shelter Home of Caldwell County.
"Bell Atlantic Mobile's wireless phones have provided a portable lifeline to residents of the shelter," Looper said. "One mother at the shelter desperately wanted to return to work, but feared for her safety because her batterer, who had previously fractured both her arms, routinely violated the court's protection order. This woman was eventually able to find employment and now, equipped with her Bell Atlantic Mobile wireless phone, reports to work with a sense of security."
"Wireless at Work..." was developed to offer in-kind creative solutions through the company's products and services for society's most vexing problems.
For more information on any " Wireless at Work..." programs, organizations may contact program coordinator Brian Chandler at 704/332-2030.
Bell Atlantic Mobile owns and operates the largest wireless network in the East, covering 120,000 square miles, and the largest chain of retail outlets devoted exclusively to wireless voice, data and paging. Based in Bedminster, NJ, Bell Atlantic Mobile has 6.4 million customers and 8,000 employees from Maine to Georgia and, through a separate subsidiary, in the Southwest. Through its "Wireless at Work..." community service program, the company uses its technology to help individuals and communities improve security and emergency communications. Bell Atlantic Mobile's parent, Bell Atlantic Corporation (NYSE:BEL) is one of the world's largest wireless communications companies, with domestic operations in 25 states and international investments in Mexico, Europe and the Pacific Rim. For more information on Bell Atlantic Mobile visit: www.bam.com; on global operations visit: www.bellatlantic.com/worldwide.