Congress of California Seniors and Self-Help for the Elderly Receive $300,000 From Verizon to Fund a Program to Combat Elder Abuse

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The Congress of California Seniors and Self-Help for the Elderly announced Wednesday (Feb. 4) that they have received $300,000 from the Verizon Foundation to create an elder-abuse awareness program for senior citizens in Santa Clara and Ventura counties.

Through the program, The Commitment to End Abuse of Seniors and Elders (CEASE), the organizations will partner with local senior service providers and domestic violence prevention groups to implement an education and outreach campaign, publish multi-lingual education materials, and direct information about local resources available to victims and family members.

"In recent years, financial abuse, physical assault and family-related violence have increased while public resources to identify abuse and to protect victims have been cut back, creating a budget crisis for agencies fighting abuse," said Hank Lacayo, president of the Congress of California Seniors. "The funding from Verizon will help us prevent ongoing abuse and raise awareness of this critical issue through advocacy, education, training, public awareness and coordination of services."

Nearly a quarter of a million Californians are victims of elder abuse and dependent adult abuse every year. It is estimated that one of every 20 elders is a victim of neglect or physical, psychological or financial abuse, according to the California Department of Justice. Currently, it is estimated that only one in five cases of elder and dependent adult abuse is reported in California. 

"Our seniors are very vulnerable and we must make every effort to protect them," said Anni Chung, president/CEO of Self-Help for the Elderly.  "I look forward to working with the Congress of California Seniors and Verizon to educate the public and families about the effects and consequences of elder abuse."

Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, chair of the Aging and Long-Term Care Committee, said, "This couldn't come at a better time.  The need is growing and our resources are shrinking. This kind of help is more important than ever."

Raising awareness of domestic violence and aiding in its prevention is a key social issue for the Verizon Foundation. This partnership is the latest step in Verizon's ongoing commitment to the issue.

Verizon supports the survivors of domestic violence through a myriad of programs, including Verizon Wireless' HopeLine® program. Through the program, no-longer-used phones are collected and provided to nonprofit organizations that assist domestic violence survivors.

"Our senior citizen population is among the most vulnerable when it comes to the issue of abuse," said Tim McCallion, Verizon West Region president. "Through this partnership with the Congress of California Seniors and Self-Help for the Elderly, Verizon hopes to create positive change in the lives of our seniors and end the cycle of violence."

The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, supports the advancement of literacy and K-12 education through its free educational Web site, Thinkfinity.org, and fosters awareness and prevention of domestic violence.  In 2008, the Verizon Foundation awarded more than $68 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the U.S. and abroad.  It also matched the charitable donations of Verizon employees and retirees, resulting in an additional $26 million in combined contributions to nonprofits.  Through Verizon Volunteers, one of the nation's largest employee volunteer programs, Verizon employees and retirees have volunteered more than 3 million hours of community service since 2000. For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizonfoundation.org.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving more than 80 million customers nationwide.  Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world, and Verizon Telecom, which brings customers the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of nearly 224,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of more than $97 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.