Local Domestic Violence Shelters Adding New Service for Victims

PITTSBURGH, PA — A new link to potential employers, housing and social services is now available to women and their children who seek housing and assistance at area domestic violence shelters. Bell Atlantic Mobile has expanded its HopeLine® program to provide free voice mail to residents at the Alle-Kiski Area HOPE Center, WOMANSPLACE of Western Pennsylvania, Crisis Center North, Washington Women's Center and the Volunteers Against Abuse Center of Butler County, Inc.

Bell Atlantic Mobile's HopeLine program was designed to assist disadvantaged or displaced individuals and families to aid them in seeking employment, places to live and access to social services. It was launched in Pittsburgh in 1993 with the Salvation Army to provide service for residents of their homeless shelters. Last year, Bell Atlantic Mobile expanded HopeLine to provide service for the Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.

HopeLine enables the shelters to help residents interact with prospective employers during job searches or prospective landlords when looking for a home or lodging, as well as giving them phone contact with family members and other social service agencies. By having a phone number answered with a personalized voice mail message, the women will have a way to keep in touch with parents, other family members, or medical personnel with whom they need to maintain contact. The program also allows the women who are seeking employment or housing to avoid the misperceptions associated with living at a shelter.

"HopeLine answers a specific need at our shelter," explained Lynn Snead, executive director of the Alle-Kiski Area HOPE Center. "We were planning to add an extra phone line so residents could receive messages about employment without the call going through the shelter's regular recorded message. HopeLine provides us that service at no cost."

Roger Tang, regional vice president for Bell Atlantic Mobile in Pittsburgh, said providing HopeLine is an integral part of the company's overall commitment to applying wireless technology solutions to help victims of domestic violence.

"HopeLine has been tremendously successful at homeless and domestic violence shelters in all of our regions," Tang explained. "By expanding HopeLine to these additional shelters, our technologies can benefit the women who need a link like this to help them through a time of emergency or crisis."

No special equipment is required to use HopeLine, which can be accessed through the organization's regular telephone system or any landline or cellular phone.

Earlier this month, Bell Atlantic Mobile introduced a toll- and airtime-free link to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, allowing users to simply dial *HOPE from their cellular phones to reach the hotline. Since 1995, Bell Atlantic Mobile has focused its philanthropic efforts, under the "Wireless at Work..." community service program, on assisting victims of domestic violence by utilizing the company's resources and technology in a variety of ways. In addition to its HopeLine program, these include donations of pre-programmed wireless 9-1-1 phones to police departments and district attorneys' offices to distribute to women at risk. This year the company earmarked $100,000 to help victims by providing wireless technology solutions.

Editor's Note: Bell Atlantic Mobile owns and operates the largest wireless network in the East, covering 112,000 square miles, and the largest chain of retail outlets devoted exclusively to wireless voice, data and paging. The company's Pittsburgh Regional Headquarters are in Thorn Hill Industrial Park in Marshall Township.