Cell phone drive to give DTES Seniors 911 access huge success
Vancouver (December 23, 2013) — A campaign asking Vancouverites to donate their old cell phones to Downtown Eastside (DTES) seniors so they would have access to 911 is a huge success, with collection bins full and sponsors lending a helping hand.
Sarah Blyth, a mental health worker with seniors in the DTES, came up with the campaign. “People have been great,” says Blyth. “At least 250 phones have been donated in the collection bins.”
Earlier this month the PHS Community Services Society and its partners TELUS, Free Geek, Vancity, the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Police Department put out the call for Vancouverites to donate their old cellphones without the SIM cards to DTES seniors. The phones will give seniors without phone services access to 911 emergency call services. Since then, the people of Vancouver have been filling donation bins to the brim making the program an overwhelming success.
With Christmas only days away, two more donors have emerged. Local tech accelerator Wavefront has come in with a donation of 300 cell phones and chargers.
“We saw articles on the program in the newspaper and knew we could help,” says Tiffany Chester, Director of Marketing for Wavefront. “These phones will make the seniors who get them a little bit safer, a little bit more connected.”
PHS worked with TransLink to provide a shuttle bus to take the seniors on a tour to see Stanley Park’s Bright Nights Christmas lights. PHS will offer dinner and hot cocoa, the seniors will get the new cellphones from Wavefront, and then the tour of Stanley Park with Translink.
“There are a lot of seniors living in the DTES and the holidays can be pretty tough,” says Blyth. “Vancouverites and our program partners and sponsors are helping make Christmas a little bit special for this group.
Sarah Blyth, Manager, Seniors Housing – PHS Community Services Society