Bell Atlantic Mobile Expands Domestic Violence Program To Victims In Vermont

Burlington, VT — To assist victims of domestic violence in Chittenden County, Bell Atlantic Mobile today announced the donation of 20 cellular phones to five Chittenden County organizations working with victims of domestic and sexual violence. The donation is part of the company's "Wireless at Work" effort to arm victims of domestic violence with powerful, state-of-the-art wireless technology that provides a crucial lifeline to the police.

Ken Dixon, Executive Director of Bell Atlantic Mobile's Upstate New York and Vermont Region, presented four cellular phones to Women Helping Battered Women, bringing the total to twenty (20) wireless phones distributed by Bell Atlantic Mobile to Chittenden County domestic violence programs since June. Other organizations receiving donations include the Chittenden County State's Attorney's Domestic Violence Victim Advocate Program, the Burlington Police, Vermont State Police and the Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations. All five organizations will make the cellular phones available to women at risk of domestic violence, stalking or sexual abuse, and are specially programmed to dial 9-1-1 at the touch of a single button.

"It is our hope that these phones will never have to be used to report an emergency," Dixon said, "but if a women feels threatened, help will be on the way immediately. This public/private sector partnership is a perfect example of how we can pool our resources to help break the cycle of domestic violence."

"Women in domestic abuse situations need a way to summon help instantly from wherever they are. With these phones, domestic violence victims will be safer at home or leaving their homes," said Chittenden County State's Attorney Lauren Bowerman. She said the phones would also serve as a lifeline for women who have left their abusers and are living on their own. "We all thank Bell Atlantic Mobile for recognizing that having wireless phones in hand will allow these women to go about starting a new life with less fear," she said.

Angela Bibens from Women Helping Battered Women agreed that domestic violence victims can still be in danger, even after leaving the abuser. "They may have moved to a safe house, away from friends and family, to escape their abusers," she pointed out. "They feel isolated and vulnerable. These cellular phones put some power and control into their hands," she said.

"We are called to domestic violence situations on a daily basis," said Lt. Stephen Wark, speaking for the Burlington Police Department. "Now when we leave the house we can leave the woman with a tool that will connect her and her children to the security and safety they need in an emergency situation," he explained.

Dixon said the cell phone donation in Chittenden County is one of a series made by Bell Atlantic Mobile all along the east coast as part of the company's "Wireless at Work..." community service program. Wireless at Work has donated over 1,500 cell phones to victims of domestic violence in cooperation with law enforcement, district attorneys' and prosecutors' offices throughout the company's service area. Bell Atlantic Mobile plans to continue distributing wireless phones throughout Vermont in 1998, and will also initiate voice mail box donations to transitional housing programs this year.

Bell Atlantic Mobile is a corporate leader in the fight against domestic violence, and has earmarked $100,000 in 1998 to help victims of domestic violence by providing wireless technology solutions. In 1998 Bell Atlantic Mobile also donated $10,000 to the Family Violence Prevention Fund, one of the nation's leading organizations working to improve the health, judicial and public policy responses to domestic violence.

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, NJ, Bell Atlantic Mobile has more than 5 million customers and 7,000 employees in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, Southeast, and - through a separate subsidiary - the Southwest. Through its "Wireless at Work " community relations program, which includes HopeLine® voice mail service, Bell Atlantic Mobile uses its wireless technology to help individuals and communities improve security and emergency communications.