HARTFORD, Conn. -- Recognizing the physical, emotional and economic toll that domestic violence takes on Connecticut's private and corporate citizens, Bell Atlantic Mobile today announced the launch of a statewide program in conjunction with the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV).
Victims of abuse will benefit from Bell Atlantic Mobile's "HopeLine(R)," a confidential voice mail system. The HopeLine service was donated to all 18 domestic violence shelters throughout the state and allows women to give out a confidential telephone number -- rather than the shelter's number -- as they seek employment or housing. Bell Atlantic Mobile also donated 40 cellular phones to CCADV to be used in conjunction with the programs.
"Our business is about helping people communicate anytime, anywhere, and for women who are trying to safeguard themselves against an abuser -- communication takes on an even greater significance," said Jack Plating, Bell Atlantic Mobile's president of the Northeast Region, at a press conference held today at the state capitol.
"Typically the only option is a pay phone that can go unanswered or is constantly in use," added Plating. "And listing a shelter phone number on a job application can create an uneven playing field. HopeLine service helps eliminate the perceived stigma of living in a shelter."
In comments today, Linda J. Cimino, executive director of the CCADV, said: "A shelter is only the first step for women seeking to escape abusive relationships. Housing and employment are two key elements of a woman's journey to safety. However, many employers and landlords are reluctant to offer a job or an apartment to a woman living in a shelter. HopeLine is opening up a communications avenue toward independence for these women and their children."
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, also in attendance, said, "This program enables victims to start anew and put their lives back together with confidence that confidentiality will be safeguarded. In 1996, the 18 community-based domestic violence shelter programs provided 906 women and 1,295 children with emergency shelter. HopeLine will aid these victims to escape abuse and begin productive, safe and peaceful lives."
HopeLine was first introduced in 1993 in the Northeast and geared toward the homeless population. It quickly became apparent to Bell Atlantic Mobile that the service was also ideal for domestic violence victims and anyone else forced to reside in a shelter due to circumstances beyond their control.
As domestic violence shelters continue to face an increased demand for services, they look to corporations not only for funding but for innovative solutions to their residents' needs. With HopeLine, Bell Atlantic Mobile uses their wireless network to provide domestic violence victims and others the vital link they need to the community.
HopeLine has helped more than 4,400 people this year. Of these, nearly 1,000 retained a permanent place to live and more than 600 found jobs. Another 175 used the service for resolving healthcare issues.
Bell Atlantic Mobile is the largest wireless service provider on the East Coast and the 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 a full range of wireless personal communications services, including voice data and paging. Based in Bedminster, N.J., Bell Atlantic Mobile has five 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.