Metro- Gwinnet- Published on: 12/26/04

 

D

on't toss old cellphone, it could be woman's lifeline Gail Ware could use that old cellphone lying around your house. She doesn't care about make or model.

All Ware is concerned about is getting it in the hands of those who need it badly , women involved in, or trying to escape, abusive relationships. They can use the phones if a crisis arises. "All they have to do is dial 911," said Ware of Lawrenceville.

 "And it's free. It allows women who are on the streets with their kids or sleeping under bridges to call for help if they run into their ex-husbands or boyfriends. It's their lifeline." Ware collects discarded wireless phones for Women Are Dreamers, Too, a nonprofit agency in Norcross that helps battered women. This fall, she took a 12-week course there that teaches women how to draw up a business plan.

Ware loved what she learned, and was just as impressed with the organization's overall efforts to stop domestic abuse. She's been spreading the word about the agency's need for cellphones ever since. "By the second week of October, I was bringing home boxes of cellphones every day," said Ware, a divorced mother of two. "I just picked up two more boxes, so I should be close to 200 by now, and I'm not finished collecting."

W

ADT is tapped into an initiative of Verizon Wireless called the HopeLine Phone Recycling Program. Phones are refurbished and given, with free airtime, to advocacy groups like WADT.

The make, model or service carrier of the discard doesn't matter. Ware has the perfect job for solicitations. The Washington native works as a security guard for a firm that has contracts for office complexes across Atlanta. Between greetings and casual chats, she slips in a word or two about domestic violence and why she needs cellphones. "These are intelligent women who have a lot to offer," said Ware, 48.

T

hey just have never had anyone help them bring their skills to the surface. A lot of people ask, 'Well, why don't women in abusive situations just leave?' But you need strength beyond your girlfriend or family to leave. The only way you can leave is when you say, yourself, that you've had enough." Christmas and New Year's Day tend to bring out the best — and worst — in folk. Cindy Williams, founder of WADT, says demand for services peak this time of the year. Some of the women crying for help will need a way to communicate in time of crisis.

And that cellphone you tossed aside for a fancier model sure could come in handy. • Rick Badie's column appears on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. He can be reached by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 770-263-3875.