HopeLine

Eleanor Jordan, center, executive director of the Kentucky Commission on Women, introduces Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson, left, and his wife Madeline Abramson Tuesday afternoon.

The Kentucky Commission on Women and Verizon Wireless are collaborating on Hopeline, an initiative that both raises money to battle against domestic abuse and allows you to get rid of all those obsolete cell phones nestled in the back of your drawer.

Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson, Madeline Abramson, Pat Byron, founder of the Mary Byron Project, and other officials and activists were at the Jefferson County Judicial Center on Jefferson Street Wednesday afternoon to roll out Hopeline in Louisville.

The initiative, which dates back to 2001, collects cellphones, slates and other wireless devices. This month, to mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month, state agencies and Verizon will collect the devices. Through Hopeline, Verizon executives hope to collect 3,500 phones and wireless devices, said Madeline Abramson. They’ll be refurbished and sold, with the proceeds donated to domestic violence prevention efforts, said Lauren Love-Wright, president of Verizon Wireless’s regional operations.

Those programs include Work Safe, a program of The Mary Byron Project.

hopeline-home-heroJerry Abramson, former Louisville mayor, opened the event by citing some startling statistics: one in three Kentucky women are victims of domestic abuse, one in nine are raped and beaten, and three women are murdered by husbands each day in the United States.

Madeline Abramson, chairwoman of the Kentucky Commission on Women, added that domestic violence has a profound affect on businesses, causing women to be late to work, hindering their ability to advance in careers, and causing security issues for companies.

“It seems like the problem is so overwhelming there is nothing an individual can do,” Jerry Abramson said. “But there is a very simple way to help everyone in Kentucky who needs help in dealing with violence at home or in the workplace.”

Pat Byron recounted how her daughter, Mary, was shot and killed at work in 1993 by an abusive ex-boy friend. “She didn’t know he was out of jail, and he was determined to finish the job he had started.”

Mary Byron was 21 years old. In her memory, Pat Byron founded the Mary Byron Project, a national coalition to address the root causes of violence beyond the immediate crisis.

Back then there was “a terrible gap” in protection for women, Byron said, a gap that led to the creation of VINE, or the Victim Information Notification Everyday, a digital notification system created by Louisville based Appriss.

David Nicholson, Jefferson County Circuit Court Clerk, also recognized Jerry Abramson for his assistance as mayor in helping court workers create a system that cut the time it takes to issue an emergency protective order from three hours to 10 minutes. “I’m happy to say that system is being rolled out in other counties this month” as part of National Domestic Violence Awareness month, Nicholson said.

To date, Verizon has given grants in Kentucky totaling more than $100,000 for domestic violence prevention and response, said Love-Wright.

Verizon has collected more than 10 million phones since 2001. In turn, the New York City-based communication giant has distributed $21 million to domestic violence prevention agencies, as well as handed out more than 3,000 phones to victims and police, Love-Wright said. Giving women those phones ensures they can connect with emergency personnel, family and friends, and prevents isolation, she said.

The drive will accept phones “in any condition, from any carrier,” Love-Wright said. Verizon is providing collection boxes, and is offering free shipping for donations. You can get details here.

The event in Louisville was one of three Hopeline events, with Gov. Steve Beshear and his wife Jane Beshear speaking in Lexington and in Frankfort earlier Wednesday.