Hopeline Campaign collecting old cell phones for effort against domestic violence

Article submitted by Bellingham-Whatcom County Commission Against Domestic Violence

Sadey Goodman, a 6-year-old girl who attends Wade King Elementary in Bellingham, heard about Whatcom County’s Hopeline Campaign from her mother, and decided that she wanted to help.

Sadey developed a “strategic plan” to collect cell phones to help victims of domestic violence, and has had collection boxes placed at Gold’s Gym, Wade King Elementary, Hillcrest Chapel, Hillcrest Kids Daycare, and Western Washington University. She also collected more than 20 phones at her family’s Super Bowl party, and has family members from as far away as New Orleans supporting her efforts.

“My goal is to collect 195 phones,” said 6-year-old Sadey. “I hope everyone can help me do that.”
Sadey is one of many community members supporting Whatcom County’s participation in the Verizon Wireless Hopeline Campaign by collecting used and no-longer-being-used cell phones to raise support for domestic violence programs.  This effort is led by the Whatcom County Sheriff and Police Chiefs Association and the Bellingham Whatcom County Commission Against Domestic Violence.

The Hopeline Campaign is a competition that counties nationwide can participate in – and the County that collects the most cell phones wins a $10,000 grant from Verizon.  Cell phone collection has already started, and will continue until June 15.

Last year, in 2011, its first year participating, Whatcom County won the competition, beating out larger counties nationwide.  More than 1,500 phones were collected (more phones than those collected by the Los Angeles Police Department) – and this year the DV Commission has set a goal of doubling that number.

If you would like to donate your old cell phones to the campaign, a list of collection sites is available on the DV Commission’s website at www.dvcommission.org/cellphones. If you would like to participate in the campaign as a collection site for cell phones, contact Susan Marks, DV Commission director, at smarks@dvcommission.org or 360.312.5700 x 202.

According to Chief Mike Knapp of the Ferndale Police Department, he and the other members of the Sheriff and Police Chiefs Association decided to take the lead on this effort because, “donating a discarded cell phone is an easy and practical way within the reach of all of us to support the victims of domestic violence and the critical programs and services provided in Whatcom County.”

The $10,000 Hopeline grant is used for local domestic violence programming.  In Whatcom County, the money will be used fund the Domestic Violence Specialist, an advocate for victims of domestic violence who have criminal cases in the cities of Blaine, Everson-Nooksack, Ferndale, Lynden, and Sumas.  The DVS gives victims a voice in the criminal justice system, and refers victims to vital support services in the community. If we win again this year, the $10,000 Hopeline grant will help the small cities of Whatcom County continue to offer crucial advocacy services to victims who, otherwise, would be navigating the criminal justice system alone.

Verizon Wireless will clear the memory of donated phones; re-program them with free minutes and phone numbers for safety, such as 911 and the national domestic violence hotline; and then redistribute the phones to local victim service agencies, who will give them to victims who need a phone for their safety. Donated phones can be any carrier or brand, old or new, working or not. Verizon Wireless Hopeline phones have been given to victims locally, through Womencare Shelter and Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services.

These phones can be a key element of safety for victims of domestic violence. According to Kirsten Hammer, Executive Director of Womencare Shelter: “Verizon Wireless has been a strong supporter of domestic violence programs like ours across the nation. The Hopeline phone donated by Verizon Wireless has allowed victims to have a safe phone at a time where they need it most. Many times, the abusive partner has access to their current cell phone and can track them through the GPS device.

This can be an extreme safety risk for clients staying in confidential shelter.”
Jenn Mason, Development Director at Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Services, agreed, stating that, “Hopeline phones can be a literal lifeline for domestic violence victims who are able to not only place emergency calls when they are in danger, but also keep in contact with family and get help from community resources.”

Phones that cannot be reprogrammed by Verizon Wireless are recycled, and proceeds are used to provide additional funding to domestic violence programs. In 2011, Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Services received $2,000 and Womencare Shelter received $2,500 from Verizon Wireless to provide their 24-hour helplines for victims of domestic violence.

If you or someone you know is impacted by domestic violence, contact the 24-hour helpline of one of our local domestic violence advocacy agencies: Womencare Shelter at 877.227.3360 or Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Services at 877.715.1563. You can also find both programs online at www.womencareshelter.org or www.dvsas.org.


Related Stories