CHAMPAIGN, IL — Verizon Wireless employees invited local domestic violence victims to join them as they celebrated the company's sixth year as a University of Illinois Men's Basketball sponsor at the team's victorious 80-48 rematch against Wisconsin on Wednesday, Jan. 23. The tickets were donated through the wireless company's HopeLineSM program, a nationwide domestic violence awareness and prevention initiative for the workplace and community.
"January and June are traditionally among the top months when families seek help," said James Walters, executive director for HOPE, formerly Coalition Against Domestic Violence. "In 2001, we saw an unusually busy December - even on the days before and after Christmas. Our clients are going through a rough time right now, so we sincerely appreciate the kind gesture Verizon Wireless has made in donating these tickets. It helps our clients to know there's support for them in the community. And, who wouldn't enjoy an opportunity to see the Illini work their magic?"
Verizon Wireless donated more than 30 tickets for the sold-out game to three area domestic violence advocacy organizations. Each shelter chose the lucky ticket holders from among the women and children currently seeking the guidance, support and tools necessary to make a fresh start and escape the violence they face in their daily lives. Staff persons from each organization also were invited to accompany their clients, providing them an added sense of security in the large crowd.
"We at Verizon Wireless are very proud of our affiliation with the Illini, and of course, cheer them on," said Tracy Nolan, president - Illinois/Wisconsin Region for Verizon Wireless. "But, we also are proud of these courageous individuals, and feel they deserve some cheering on as well. We want our friends and neighbors who are victimized by domestic violence to know they are not forgotten, and we congratulate them as they break free from this vicious cycle of behavior."
Verizon Wireless has a long history of supporting domestic violence prevention initiatives. Most recently, the company launched its own wireless phone-recycling program. Through HopeLine, Verizon Wireless collects previously used wireless handsets - the phones are then refurbished, recycled and/or sold. The proceeds are donated to regional and national non-profit domestic violence advocacy organizations and used to purchase handsets for victims to use in emergency situations.
For more information on HopeLine or how to make a tax deductible wireless phone donation in central Illinois, visit your local Verizon Wireless Communications store, call 1-800-426-2790 or log onto the Web at www.verizonwireless.com/hopeline.
Verizon Wireless encourages anyone who is in an abusive relationship to seek help now. Contact a local shelter or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.
In addition to its sponsorship agreement with the men's basketball team, Verizon Wireless also has been the official wireless provider to the U of I football team for six years running. That sponsorship was extended to the U of I Radio Network, making Verizon Wireless a proud sponsor of the 2001 football season broadcasts.
Reporters interested in learning more about domestic violence and how it affects the families in their community are encouraged to call the following local agencies:
- A Woman's Fund (Urbana) - contact Deborah Williams at 217-384-4462
- BETHS Place (Tuscola) - contact Barbara Utterback at 217-253-2555
- HOPE / Coalition Against Domestic Violence (Charleston) - contact Debbie Whitworth or Jim Walters at 217-348-5931
- Women's Alternative Shelter / YWCA (Danville) - contact Sue Davis at 217-446-1217
For more information about HopeLine and/or Verizon Wireless' dedication to domestic violence prevention initiatives, reporters are asked to call Carolyn Schamberger at 847-619-4282 or contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless is the leading wireless communications provider in the U.S., with the largest wireless network and more than 29.4 million 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). Verizon Wireless has a footprint covering more than 90 percent of the U.S. population, 49 of the top 50 and 97 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.
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