Safe Harbor and Bell Atlantic Mobile team to prevent domestic violence

Wireless phones donated to Safe Harbor's battered women's shelter

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Bell Atlantic Mobile, a corporate leader in the fight against domestic violence, and Safe Harbor's battered women's shelter have partnered together to loan victims of domestic violence 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 and even in their own homes -- and they often don't have immediate access to traditional landline phones in such emergencies," said Jim Akerhielm, Bell Atlantic Mobile vice president-Southeast region.

Akerhielm was joined today by Renee Middleton, Safe Harbor's executive director, to announce the donation of the phones to Safe Harbor. Safe Harbor is the fourth organization to receive loaned cellular phones to help in the prevention of domestic violence. After the success of a pilot project with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Domestic Violence Unit in Charlotte, NC, Bell Atlantic Mobile established a permanent program in the Southeast and began steps to spread the program to other communities.

Safe Harbor will administer the program, including training domestic violence victims in the use of wireless phones, as well as monitoring the use of the phones. Bell Atlantic Mobile has committed to donating the wireless phones and airtime.

"With wireless technology, we can give the assurance and the added security of knowing that help is only a cellular phone call away -- enabling victims to go to work, move about more freely within their community and not worry about being without help," added Akerhielm.

Last year, Safe Harbor, Inc. provided shelter for over 300 women and their children and responded to almost 1,100 crisis calls.

"The Bell Atlantic Mobile loaner phones are an enormous tool in providing more secure situations for our clients," said Renee Middleton. "The most dangerous time for a domestic violence victim is when she has left her abuser. Even with protective orders and bond conditions, the victim is at risk. It is so easy for abusers to disable regular telephones; these wireless phones provide both a portable and tamper-proof lifeline."

The donation of the four wireless phones is part of an ongoing program called "Wireless at Work...". Bell Atlantic Mobile has already donated cellular phones and service to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's Domestic Violence Section in North Carolina, the Hall County Solicitor's Office in Georgia, and to Sistercare, Inc. in Columbia, South Carolina.

"Domestic violence victims often feel alone and appreciate any tools that help them stay connected to the outside world. We are certain the wireless phones will add a sense of security to those victims in danger," said Middleton. "It's a true comfort to battered women knowing that help is only a phone call away no matter where they are."

Editor's Note: Bell Atlantic Mobile is the largest wireless services 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, 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.

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