Voice Mail for homeless & poor people - Community Voice Mail FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Wed, 2 Jun 1999 23:33:19 -0700 (PDT)

FWD  Monday May 24, 1999
     Press Release
     SOURCE: Travelers Aid Society

Travelers Aid Society Brings Community
Voice Mail to Philadelphia Needy; Telephone
Voice Mail Boxes to Help Poor and Homeless
Find Jobs and Residences

PHILADELPHIA, May 24 /PRNewswire/ -- The Travelers Aid Society of
Philadelphia proudly announces the introduction here of Community Voice Mail,
a system that enables homeless and phoneless poor people to have timely
contact with potential employers, landlords, human services providers and
family.<p>``This is a very exciting program to bring to Philadelphia,''
said Ted
Weerts, executive director, Travelers Society.  ``By providing people with a
reasonable solution to phone service, one that is dignified and humane, we are
assisting people in getting back on track.''

The system works like a telephone answering machine, giving callers a
personal greeting and asking them to leave a message.  On a touch-tone phone,
within minutes, a case manager at any of the participating agencies such as
Project Hope, Gateway and Casa-Del-Carmen can enroll a client on voice mail,
providing them with a telephone number to give potential employers, landlords
and others.  Voice mail box recipients can check their messages toll-free from
any public pay phone.

The formal launch of the program begins the week of May 24 with training
for case workers.  The program, awarded from the City of Philadelphia Office
of Emergency Shelter and Services to Travelers Aid as the lead agency, is
initially funded for six months with the installation of 500 voice mail boxes
during that time.  Discounts from area vendors such as ATX Telecommunications
Services and Watson Communications are helping the program take
place.<p>``We hope this is just the beginning of a very successful
program,'' said
Weerts.  ``This is a low-cost, highly-effective solution to a problem we do not
see disappearing.  We expect to have 1500 voice mail boxes in the next three
years, which will be particularly helpful to welfare-to-work individuals.''

Travelers Aid will use an incremental strategy in developing the local
voice mail program.  After an initial focus on developing voice mail services
for emergency shelter and transition housing residents, the Agency will work
with the various shelters, boarding homes and transitional housing programs to
identify and enroll potential voice mail users.

The non-profit Community Technology Institute, located in Seattle, Wash.,
the agent for replicating Community Voice Mail nation-wide, will train staff
and begin providing voice mail technology to those in need.  Since 1993, the
Community Technology Institute has replicated the programs which began in
Seattle, Wash., in cities across the country.  The organization estimates that
more than 12,000 people are using Community Voice Mail today to find housing
and employment and to communicate with providers of critical human services.

The Travelers Aid Society, located at 121 N. Broad Street, provides
services to more than 4000 individuals each year.  For nearly 100 years, the
Agency has been providing the city of Philadelphia with case management,
crisis intervention, counseling and direct assistance (food, shelter,
transportation, etc.) to stranded travelers, newcomers, and homeless
individuals and families.

SOURCE: Travelers Aid Society


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