ORANGEBURG, NY — Like most people, Auryn Santiago bought a wireless phone for safety and convenience—to have handy if she had a flat tire or to call the babysitter if she'd be late. The Newark, NJ, resident had no idea she would use the phone to call police for help after hours of violent arguing and being beaten by a former boyfriend.
"I never thought I'd make a call to save myself, but I don't know how I would have survived if I didn't have a wireless phone that day," Santiago said. "My neighbor could hear me crying, but she couldn't help because she does not have a phone."
To mark Wireless Safety Week (May 21- 28, 2001), Verizon Wireless today announced that Santiago is one of three winners selected in the company's "Wireless at Work for Safety" Contest. Each winner has received a $250 service credit which can be used toward all wireless products and services billed to their Verizon Wireless account. The two other winners are Catherine Recupero of Bronx, NY and Rissa Privitera of Manorville, NY.
Each day, more than 120,000 wireless 9-1-1 calls are made across the country to report a crime, medical emergency or traffic accident.
"The stories told by all three contest winners were moving examples of how a wireless phone can come to the aid of a person in a time of need and truly make a difference," said Charles Hand, president of Verizon Wireless' New York Metro Region. "Their stories bring to life how we've come to rely on wireless technology for safety, for helping others and for staying in touch with loved ones."
Santiago hopes her story will help other women who are being abused understand how a wireless phone can help them. "I called the police from my son's room, dialing 9-1-1 with the phone under the pillow and whispering so my abuser would not hear me," she explained. "Wireless phones can be placed anywhere in the house to allow a woman to call police."
The winners were chosen from more than 450 entries received via e-mail and U.S. mail. The contest was announced in customer bills and open to all Verizon Wireless customers in the New York Metro Region which includes northern New Jersey, New York City, Long Island and the Hudson Valley. Another contest will be announced in late June.
Verizon Wireless' major community relations focus is helping victims of domestic violence. In the New York Metro Region, the company has recycled or donated nearly 50,000 wireless phones, a large number of which now provide peace of mind to local victims of domestic violence.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless is the largest wireless communications provider in the U.S. with more than 27 million wireless voice and data customers. The coast-to-coast wireless provider was formed by the combination of the U.S. wireless businesses of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD), including Bell Atlantic Mobile, AirTouch Cellular, GTE Wireless and PrimeCo Personal Communications. Verizon Wireless has a footprint covering more than 90 percent of the U.S. population, 49 of the top 50 and 96 of the top 100 U.S. markets. The company, headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, is 40,000 employees strong. Reporters and editors can find more information about the company on the Web at http://www.verizonwireless.com.####