BENNINGTON -- With Earth Day approaching on April 22, Verizon Wireless encourages Bennington residents to recycle their old phones to give back to Project Against Violent Encounters, a domestic violence agency in town. PAVE has received an annual grant from Verizon's HopeLine recycling program since 2009 to provided prepaid cell phones to women and individuals who struggle after being victimized.
Every six months, PAVE receives about 20 refurbished phones from Verizon with 3,000 prepaid minutes and 9,000 text messages each. "It's so important that people with no phone get that safety net under them so they can call the police, go out to look for jobs and work with agencies," said volunteer PAVE coordinator, Nancy Feinberg.
The phones are often given to victims who have come out of an abusive situation and may still be struggling. "Most of the phones that we give out are given to those whose phone has been taken, broken by an abuser, left behind or to individuals can't pay for a phone," Feinberg said.
Stipulations come with the phones for those who benefit from the HopeLine program. Individuals must stay in contact with PAVE every couple weeks, and the phone can only be used by the person to whom it is given. Otherwise, the phone is deactivated.
In addition to the refurbished, free-service phones, Verizon allots a $1,000 annual cash grant for kids who may have themselves been victims or harmed indirectly from an abusive situation.
Since 2001, Verizon has collected more than 10.8 million phones and recycled more than 2.4 million phones in an environmentally-sound way. That stems from the multifaceted goal of HopeLine: to provide phones to domestic violence victims and to help keep electronic waste out of landfills.
HopeLine works with 98 domestic violence agencies throughout New England. Equinox in Albany and Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services of Saratoga County also participate in the HopeLine program.
"Wireless phones and technology serve as a vital link for all of us," Verizon released in a statement. "HopeLine phones can help victims of abuse feel safer and less isolated by giving them a way to call emergency or support services, employers, landlords, family and friends."
Bennington residents can stop in Verizon Wireless, 359 Main St., to donate their phone to the HopeLine program, or can go online to verizonwireless.com to be sent a postage-paid envelope to mail in their phone. Verizon encourages individuals who donate their old phones to erase personal data and ensure service is disconnected. HopeLine scrubs all phones as a part of the the recycling or refurbishing processes.
Contact Tom Momberg at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TomMomberg.