September 3, 2009

Community Voice Mail: A Valuable and Innovative Lifeline

Most people take access to voicemail or answering machines for granted. It's a critical component of managing our correspondence and our lives.

But what if you don’t have a phone and you’re unemployed? How do you schedule an interview if an employer can’t reach you by phone? Or what if you’ve been waiting for your doctor’s office to call you with an appointment time or with the results of your recent lab tests?

What if you’ve managed to leave an abusive relationship and you and your children are now in a safe living situation? Under no circumstances would you want to risk having a phone account that reveals your true name and address.

Community Voice Mail is a service that empowers people in crisis and transition by providing a consistent telephone number and voicemail service.

At Bread for the City, we’ve been using CVM for 3 years to assist clients with stabilizing and rebuilding their lives. The program works by distributing phone numbers through existing social service organizations such as BFC, SOME and N Street Village to name a few. Each agency adheres to strict guidelines of confidentiality regarding the identity of CVM consumers. By partnering with local service providers, CVM enhances what we already do and delivers a tangible, much-needed service.

CVM can also give users broadcast messages about community resources, job openings, and emergencies. It builds our capacity to help people regain self-sufficiency.

It’s a small thing, but it can really be a huge help for a lot of people who just can’t afford other lines of communication. Recently, one of our CVM customers said: even though he has an email address that employers can use to contact him, not having a phone number or a place to leave messages is a real barrier to looking for work. He says CVM helps him "110%" and he really hopes the service continues for years to come and that more people can take advantage of it.

These comments are backed by a success rate that is too impressive to ignore. In 2003:
  • 46% of CVM users nationwide found jobs,
  • 52% of CVM users found housing, and
  • 86% of CVM users achieved “safe communication” (fleeing domestic abuse).
Despite these achievements, CVM is like many initiatives that have lost funding under the current economic climate, and its future is uncertain. But DC’s unemployment and the nation’s domestic abuse rates are climbing fast and we need programs like CVM now more than ever.

For more information about this program, contact Jennifer Brandon, Executive Director, Community Voice Mail National Office, or (206) 441-7872 ext. 175.


Rohitw9 said...

Yaah it is true that the most people take access to voicemail or call answering machines for granted.It is absolutly trueso that it is very nice post and written by the author in very efficient way.well you can try out

Steve said...

Thank you for the very nice article about Community Voice Mail. I work for CVM in Seattle, and it's great to read your post. Thanks!