Friday, August 17, 2012

Blogging & the City 2.0 (Part 5): Verizon Wireless HopeLine gives Hope to Domestic Abuse Survivors

HopeLine was the focus at the Verizon Wireless Luncheon at BlogHer12
What would you do if your co-worker was being abused by her husband or boyfriend?

My series "Blogging & the City 2.0," recounting my time at the BlogHer conference in New York City, continues with something a little different today.

When nearly 5,000 women get together at a blogging conference, everyone thinks it's just one big party. And for the most part that is true. But this year's Verizon Wireless Luncheon took on a much more serious tone on a subject that affects more women than we think.

The focus for the Verizon Luncheon at BlogHer12 was on domestic violence and the HopeLine program.

HopeLine is a program supported by Verizon Wireless that collects no-longer-used wireless phones, batteries and accessories in any condition from any wireless service provider and reconditions the equipment to provide FREE wireless phones and FREE airtime to victims of domestic violence.

The HopeLine program also provides cash grants to local shelters and nonprofit organizations that focus on domestic violence prevention, awareness and advocacy.

I became familiar with HopeLine back in 2010 as part of a blogger challenge issued by Verizon Wireless.  I was even present at a ceremony when Verizon Wireless presented a check for $5000 to a local Detroit area charity called Looking For My Sister that deals daily with domestic violence victims. I am also friends with Kalyn Risker, the director of Sisters Acquiring Financial Empowerment (S.A.F.E.), a non-profit that helps domestic violence survivors in Metro Detroit gain the skills to earn a decent living after they leave an abusive relationship.

But nothing that I previously knew about domestic violence prepared me for the testimony of the women that Verizon Wireless asked to come and talk during the luncheon.

Domestic Violence in the work place...
We heard from actual Verizon Wireless management employees who supervised women who were being abused by their partners. Can you imagine going to work everyday and knowing that a co-worker is getting beaten every night?

What would you do?

Well not only did these Verizon Wireless managers not ignore what they knew was going on, they actually intervened to have HR move these women to other Verizon Wireless facilities so they could still earn a paycheck and their abusers could not find them.

But I love you...
The most poignant and disturbing talk during the luncheon came from Lavon Morris-Grant, a domestic abuse survivor who was attacked by her husband and shot multiple times - in the foot, in the thigh, in the butt, in the stomach and in the head.  She recounted how her husband kept shooting her as she ran down the stairs to get her children out of the house.

She was able to get her kids to the neighbor's house where she asked her neighbor to hide the children in the basement. Then she laid on her neighbor's kitchen floor to die.

She lived - with a bullet still stuck in her head and her stomach.

And do you know what was the the most difficult part for me in hearing this story? The fact that she cried when she told the story to us - 17 years after it had happened.

17 years later this woman is still haunted by the domestic abuse that she suffered at the hands of someone who claimed to love her.

Can you imagine?

It's painful to hear, difficult to process, and it makes some of us want to turn away. But it happens and Verizon Wireless has provided a way that everyone with an old cell phone can help.

Every BlogHer attendee received a prepaid shipping bag to donate an old cellphone
Got an Old Cell Phone?
So as a BlogHer conference sponsor, Verizon Wireless put in every conference attendee bag a prepaid HopeLine shipping bag so all 5000 attendees can ship an old cellphone to Verizon for FREE. But you don't need to be a BlogHer attendee to get in on this program.

Anyone can take an old cell phone to the nearest Verizon Wireless store that accepts donations for the HopeLine program. There are tons of HopeLine donation locations in the Metro Detroit area at Verizon Communication Stores.

You can also donate your cell phone to HopeLine by mail with FREE shipping.

If you are worried that your personal data might be still on the phone, HopeLine scrubs the phones prior to distributing them for re-use to ensure all personal information is removed.

Sometimes it really is the small things that can make a big difference.

To learn more about HopeLine, visit

And watch for my next post in the series "Blogging & the City 2.0" to learn about the BlogHer Virtual Conference,

UPDATE: Blogging & the City 2.0 (Part 6): FREE #BlogHer12 Virtual Conference

Live Strong!  Live FREE!

Disclosure: I received a complementary meal at the Verizon Wireless Luncheon. I am a Verizon Wireless product reviewer and have worked with Verizon Wireless in the pass on HopeLine PR initiatives. All opinions are my own.

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