Gaston County have joined together to donate victims of domestic violence four wireless phones to use in reporting emergency situations.
"Victims of domestic violence are vulnerable to threatening situations just about anywhere -- in their cars, on the street, even in their homes -- and they often don't have immediate access to traditional landline phones in such emergencies," said Beth McNamara, executive director of sales for Bell Atlantic Mobile's Southeast Region. "But, with wireless technology, we can give the assurance and the added security of knowing that help is only a wireless phone call away -- enabling them to go to work, move about more freely within the community and not worry about being without help."
McNamara was joined today by Assistant County Manager Tom McCarthy, Betty Jocobsma of the Gaston County Domestic Violence Prevention Council and Shelter Director Cathy Barrett to announce the donation of wireless phones.
The Shelter will administer the program, including training domestic violence victims in the use of the donated wireless phones pre-programmed in to dial 9-1-1 and monitoring the use of the phones. Bell Atlantic Mobile has committed to donating the wireless phones and airtime.
"The Bell Atlantic Mobile loaner phones will be an invaluable tool in providing more secure situations for our clients," said Barrett. "The phones will allow them to travel safely to and from work. And, for those we are forced to turn away, the phones will provide 24-hour assistance."
Able to house up to 20 women and children at any one time, The Shelter has provided temporary lodgings for 142 women and 132 children during the first nine months of this year -- numbers greater than the total for the whole of 1996. This past July, for the first time since the Shelter's 1995 move to a new facility, it was forced to turn away victims because of lack of available beds.
Gaston County is the fifth community Bell Atlantic Mobile's Southeast Region has loaned wireless phones to help prevent domestic violence. In the last year, after a successful pilot project with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Domestic
Violence Unit, Bell Atlantic Mobile's Southeast Region has made donations of wireless phones and service to domestic violence organizations in Columbia and Greenville, SC, and Hall County, GA.
"Bell Atlantic Mobile is excited by the successes seen after phone donations to other domestic violence organizations in the region," said McNamara. "We look forward to seeing the victims of domestic violence in Gaston County benefit from today's donation as well."
About Bell Atlantic Mobile: Bell Atlantic Mobile is the largest wireless service provider on the East Coast and second largest in the United States. The company owns and operates the most extensive network in the East, covering 111,000 square miles, and the largest chain of wireless retail outlets offering voice, data and paging. Based in Bedminster, NJ, Bell Atlantic Mobile has 5 million customers and 7,000 employees in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, Southeast, and, through a separate subsidiary, in the Southwest. The company is the chief wireless subsidiary of the new Bell Atlantic, formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX corporations.
About The Shelter of Gaston County: The Shelter was established in 1982 under the direction of the Gaston County Department of Social Services. The Shelter has provided a safe, emergency residence to more than 3,000 women and children since its establishment. Clients of The Shelter are adults and their minor children in physically violent or potentially violent situations with abusive husbands, ex-husbands or boyfriends. This free service -- including counseling, court advocacy, information and referral, direct services, children's programs, support group meetings and community education -- is made possible by county funding and donations from individuals and public and private organizations. For more information on the Shelter, please call Cathy Barrett at 704/866-3679.