Programs & Services
Community Voice Mail is a program of
the Opportunity Council, initially coordinated by an Americorp VISTA volunteer.
Community Voice Mail (CVM) provides phoneless, homeless and
unemployed persons with 24-hour access to telephone messages they might
not otherwise receive from potential employers, landlords, case managers,
and service providers. People
in such circumstances receive CVM services from social service agencies
that are active in the program. Within
minutes, a client is set up with a personalized greeting, security code
and wallet card that outlines simple instructions to use a touch-tone
phone to retrieve their messages.
Today the telephone is a necessary
social credit card. For
example, think about the process of finding a job.
You can apply for a job in person,
on the phone, or through the mail.
But no matter which method is used, almost all cases will require a
telephone call to the applicant, whether to schedule interviews, get
questions answered, or to confirm employment.
The problem is that if you are homeless, it stands to reason that
you are also phoneless. How
then, do you find employment without having a telephone?
Enter voice mail.
CVM has been available in Island County through
Opportunity Council since October, 2000.
It was originally started in Seattle as a pilot project at the
nonprofit Seattle Worker Center in 1990.
This project became so successful that Community Technology
Institute was started, a nonprofit that focuses on replicating CVM across
the nation. The program is
available in 41 cities throughout the country and has received national
attention by winning a Ford Foundation award in 1993.
In Island County, the average time a person needs CVM
is 171 days. After that 66%
of its users meet their goal, whether that is finding employment, housing,
health care, or receiving social services (as of August 31, 2002). To date, 172 persons have used or are using CVM in Island
Agencies that currently offer this service to their clients are the Opportunity Council, Work First, Employment Security Dept., Housing Authority of Island County, CADA, New Leaf, Dept. of Corrections and Families That Work. The Opportunity Council Resource Staff reports that CVM helps to ease the burden of homelessness and helps families transition to a stable life.
For more information, call the Opportunity Council's Island County Service Center at (360) 679-6577 or 1-800-317-5427.