By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — With today’s technology it can be pretty easy to track someone down. When it comes to domestic abuse victims, Verizon wants to make sure that isn’t the case.
Each year, Verizon donates boxes of secure cell phones to the Elizabeth Freeman Center to give to victims — getting them off the family plan and onto a secured line.
“The Hopeline gives us a safe phone to give folks so they can call for help or call for services,” Elizabeth Freeman Center Executive Director Janis Broderick.
“They really do save lives. We give out at least 100 phones per year.”
The phones given to the center is part of the company’s ‘Hopeline’ program. On Thursday, District Attorney David Capeless turned over hundreds of old cell phones to the company. Verizon will now recycle the parts and use the proceeds to send new phones and a cash donation to the Freeman Center. The new phones are all stocked with minutes and texts for victims to use.
We couldn’t do these grants or Hopeline phones without the community’s help,” said Verizon spokesman Mike Murphy. “Through the revenues we generate fro this program we can give grants to our partners.”
In its 10th year, Verizon gifted the Freeman Center a $5,000 check. Broderick says that’ll go to support the organization’s 24-hour emergency services. That response gives families whatever emergency needs the family has at the time. Broderick said the needs vary on a case by case basis.
“We’re confident our resources are being put to good use,” Murphy said.
The money is generated from Capeless’ collections in which hundreds of old cell phones are collected and shipped to the company. Capeless said the partnership among the three agencies isn’t just finances but the collection process sheds light on the problem of domestic abuse.
“It reminds them that this is an ongoing issue,” Capeless said.
He credited Verizon with putting in the effort to make it happen because “for Verizon this is not simply a public relations event” but a program requiring a significant amount of work.
“This is such a great program,” the district attorney said.
Broderick said the Elizabeth Freeman Center operates on a “bare bones” budget so it relies on community partners like Verizon and the district attorney’s office.
“I think our partnerships in Berkshire County make our work more effective,” she said.