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Posted: May 01, 2008

State of the State: Telecommunications

Initiative connects homeless to voice mail

Corinne Brown

Telecommunications and humanity have hooked up in an initiative to help the homeless find jobs and get off the streets. Colorado Community Voicemail, founded in 2004, is a critical element of Mayor John Hickenlooper’s Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness.
Spearheaded by Multi-Link and Liberty Bell Telecom, small-business telecom and computing specialists headed by Nigel Alexander, the Colorado Community Voicemail program provides a reliable communication system between human-services agencies and their clients. Other sponsors of the program include Sunguard and Faegre & Benson LLP.

Although the program has been around four years, its efforts on behalf of the homeless has been a quiet quest, with little fanfare. And that’s OK with Alexander.

"You know, apart from the launch in 2004 when the city of Denver did a fair amount of PR, we have never really sought to publicize the program, except to the participants and agencies," he says.

The program allows the homeless and other disadvantaged individuals to maintain contact with family and loved ones as well as agencies that assist in housing, medical attention and job opportunities. The national CVM program, founded in Seattle in 1993, currently has 39 sites nationwide serving approximately 41,000 individuals who can access free 24-hour voice mail as needed.

Approximately 4,000 voice-mail boxes are in use throughout the Front Range. These are distributed and managed by more than 115 Colorado agencies that assist the homeless and disadvantaged, those in danger of domestic violence, and almost anyone in pain, crisis or need. The program costs about $12 per person per year, or about $50,000 annually. (Tax-deductible donations are welcome from other businesses interested in the cause.)
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