Cameka Crawford knew that whatever job she'd take out of college, it would have to serve the purpose of helping others. With two successful years under her belt as the head manager of Verizon's Hopeline initiative, Crawford is leading people all around the world in hopes of ending domestic violence. Read her story, get inspired and donate to an amazing cause.
EBONY: In terms of the Verizon Hopeline, what are your day-to-day duties and management responsibilities? How are you involved?
Cameka Crawford: I manage Hopeline at the national level. That means I work with really great partners…[that] work to implement programs that will help end domestic violence across the country. I also manage our phone-recycling program at the national level…so I work with a number of key partners across the country to help them implement Hopeline drives in their [areas.] Its really just been a great partnership all the way around.
EBONY:In the last two years, what have you seen that’s shocked you? Have there been any challenges or amazing surprises?
CC:I have to say that the amount of support that we get from people across the country has pleasantly surprised and humbled me. I get calls from people from all over that are interested in doing whatever they can to help end domestic violence. We also have students who are taking a stand. Really, to see the number of community support is just great.
EBONY: I know a lot of people who have friends and family members who have been through domestic violence and it compels them to speak up. What about you? Why have you been so dedicated?
CC: I love helping people. It’s just inherent in my DNA. When I came out of college and I was looking for a position, I looked for one that would allow me to give back and allow me to help people. Everybody knows somebody…the reason I am so passionate about this program is because I have just learned so much, in regard to the signs that I can look for. This program has also allowed me, in my day-to-day dealings with my family and my friends, to be more alert and aware…If somebody is talking to me, and my antenna goes off, I can feel myself go, “wait a minute, that ‘s not right.”
EBONY: It’s amazing how everyday people contribute to this positive initiative.
CC: It really is. Sometimes you feel helpless. It’s like it’s a big problem, and you don’t know what you can do. One thing about Hopeline, it makes it so easy to give back in helping end domestic violence. It’s just a matter of donating a phone that you’re not using anymore. My friends and family laugh at me because I’ll say to them, “it’s about time for another upgrade and by the way, that’s a grant!” I’m looking at old phones like, “that’s some grant money right there in your junk drawer.”
EBONY: So, can anybody who’s with any mobile company donate their phones or do you have to be a Verizon customer?
CC: Absolutely not. The wonderful thing is we take phones from any service provider in any condition. So it doesn’t even have to be a new phone, it can be a phone from 10 or 15 years ago.
EBONY: I have a thousand phones in my apartment and I always look at them like "what am I going to do with these?"
CC: We all do. The other thing is that we’ve made it so easy to donate. We have Hopeline bins in every Verizon wireless communications port. Also, on our website, you can download a postage-paid mailing label and ship to us at no charge. Even more exciting, we’ve recently launched the Hopeline Verizon Android app. So you can download that app and put in your location and find the nearest Hopeline bin to you so you can donate a phone.
EBONY: How has Hopeline made a direct impact on ending domestic violence?
CC: I’m glad you asked that question. Through Hopeline, we have been able to donate more than 14.2 million dollar in grants. That’s to local and international programs that are in support of ending domestic violence. Sometimes the grant money is used to help educate and it’s been given to local shelters and organizations, too. In addition, we also provide wireless phones with free minutes. Since we have started, we have donated 123,000 wireless phones with 406 million minutes. And those phones are actually put in the hands of survivors. You know a wireless phone can be a lifeline. It can help them stay in contact with their friends, family and jobs and so forth. It’s a safe way for them to be able to communicate.
EBONY: How do you protect their identity with the phones?
CC: Even though that person is using it, that phone is in the name of a shelter. Also when it shows up on a caller ID, it shows up as “Verizon Wireless.” There is no number; it just shows up as “Verizon Wireless.”
EBONY; I’m so in awe of the way you’ve used technology to help people. I do want to know more about the hash tag Hopeline as well.
CC: On every wireless phone on the Verizon wireless network, a customer can dial #HOPE and be connected instantly to a domestic violence hotline. That hotline is a 24/7 hotline that helps victims in need. The other way we make it easy for people to get connected is the Android app. There is a button in the app, that says “dial hotline," and you’re instantly connected.
EBONY: I hope this program continues to be a success!
CC: We really are able to continue this support in thanks of the community. We just want to make it very easy for people to get involved. For those who want to get involved and host their own community drive, you can go to our website and there is a page that says “phone drive suggestions and tips," and there is a step by step guide that will help you get started. And we will send the posters, collection boxes, everything that you need with no charge.