Verizon announced today its commitment to Indiana nonprofits with donations amounting to more than $400,000 and more than half of the grant money dedicated to struggling domestic violence agencies.

“We know domestic violence agencies and shelters are hurting now and we’ve stepped up to meet the needs of families that they serve across Indiana,” said John Granby, president–Indiana/Kentucky/Michigan Region, Verizon Wireless. “We don’t ever want a shelter to be forced to turn people away.”

From cash grants to employee matches, Verizon remains committed to helping as many agencies as possible in Indiana.

Just this summer, a number of organizations reported a spike in domestic violence calls for help brought on by the pressure of a souring economy. Agencies began struggling with waiting lists at shelters and extended stays and also experienced increased calls for help to crisis hotlines.

“An organization like ours could not continue with the outreach that we do without support from committed partners like Verizon,” said Melissa Pershing, executive director of The Julian Center, one of the state’s largest domestic violence programs.  “Verizon’s grant is helping us bring families that have been impacted by domestic violence out of poverty and into financial self-sustainability through nationally recognized programs such as Circles of Support and Bridges out of Poverty.”

Funding comes from the Verizon Foundation and through the nationally recognized HopeLine® program from Verizon Wireless. At Indiana’s 36 company-owned retail stores and through pre-paid mail options, Hoosiers can easily donate no longer used phones and accessories to the HopeLine program.

Verizon provides those refurbished wireless phones and airtime to nonprofit organizations for use by domestic violence survivors, as well as cash grants to local shelters and nonprofits that focus on prevention, awareness and advocacy through those donations.

Last year, 731 phones and more than 2.1 million free minutes were contributed to Indiana shelter residents to make those connections.

“In the recent years of increased financial constraints on government and non-profit budgets, contributions from private sector sources like the Verizon Foundation have become even more important,” said Michelle Bumgarner, director of victim advocacy programs for the Indiana Attorney General’s office.  “While our office assists survivors with services such as the Address Confidentiality Program, the financial support from community partners, like Verizon, helps make the essential and often life-saving work of local advocates and shelters possible.”

(The Address Confidentiality Program is a free service of the attorney general’s office that allows victims of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking to maintain a confidential address.)

Across Indiana, 19 domestic violence organizations are being supported by Verizon, including the following in central Indiana:

  • Domestic Violence Network of Greater Indianapolis
  • Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence
  • The Julian Center
  • Muslim Alliance of Indiana
  • Salvation Army
  • Sheltering Wings Center for Women

“With Verizon’s support, we were able to help 317 Hoosiers who have suffered from domestic violence—including 203 children—escape from a violent situation,” said Susan Solomon, divisional services director for the Salvation Army in Indiana. “Our Emergency Bed Space Program was developed to ensure that when traditional shelter spaces in Indianapolis are full, those fleeing from violence will still have a safe place to go. Without this program, these individuals would have been forced to remain in a violent situation, live in their car or try to access a potentially unsafe situation.”

Verizon is also reminding its more than 500 Indiana employees to give during this time of escalated need. The Verizon Foundation supports personal philanthropic giving made by Verizon employees and retirees. Employees can earn cash grants for the qualified nonprofits where they volunteer at least 50 hours, and can have their charitable donations go further by utilizing the foundation’s Matching Gifts Programs.

“The need is great and the time is now,” Granby said. “We’re asking everyone in our company to step up during Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October, and we hope others follow our lead.”