Nine years ago, a Verizon Wireless employee named Amy became a victim of domestic violence. Despite court orders and a legal battle, Amy's husband continued to stalk her, interrupted her work, and ultimately killed her. She was just one of thousands of women affected each year by such violence, and one of far too many to be killed as a result.
But because she worked for Verizon Wireless, Amy became more than just one more tragic statistic. The company she worked for, which, through its project HopeLine, had been working to help in the struggle against domestic violence since the company was founded, took the next step. That step resulted in a television program produced by Penn State Public Broadcasting. It will be available on PBS stations starting June 1.
The formal premiere for the program was held here in Washington this week at a gala at the Newseum in which Land & Order: SVU star Mariska Hargitay introduced the show to the hundreds of people attending. The goal of the program, 'Telling Amy's Story,' as you might expect, is to both explain the reality of domestic violence, and to give victims the tools they need to make their lives safer.
If all that Verizon Wireless did was create a television program about a critical issue affecting thousands, it would be nice. But this communications company went the extra mile. In fact, it does the one thing it can do best-provide critical communications support to victims of domestic violence and to those who give them care and shelter.
Since Verizon Wireless was created out of one of those big communications mergers that closed out the last millennium, it has been actively working to support initiatives that fight domestic violence by providing free phones, with free airtime to victims and to those who can help them. For those people affected by this tragic situation, one thing remains vital to their safety-the ability to call the police, their lawyers, their case workers and their friends and family.
Unfortunately, domestic violence is frequently accompanied by difficult financial circumstances. For many of these victims, even a cheap phone would be too expensive.
But Verizon Wireless has gone even further. It's funded a wireless phone recycling program to raise the money for its domestic violence initiatives. Verizon Wireless stores accept donations of any wireless device from any carrier. The devices are refurbished and sold where possible, used for spare parts, or recycled in an environmentally responsible way. The money raised from selling the refurbished phones has allowed the company to distribute nearly 8 million dollars in cash grants and to provide over 90,000 phones and 300 million minutes of free airtime to victims.
So far, the Verizon Wireless effort has resulted in the collection of over 7 million phones that might otherwise have ended up in landfills, and has turned them into the means for saving lives.
For more information about Verizon Wireless' HopeLine, see http://aboutus.vzw.com/communityservice/hopeLine.html. If you have a corporate donation, the coordinator for Verizon Wireless is Debra Lewis, and you can e-mail her here: Debra.Lewis@VerizonWireless.com or call her at 908-559-7512.