I’ve been chatting with Craig Walker of GrandCentral over the last little while mostly about new GrandCentral features and the Canadian phone numbers coming soon (yeah!), but I also asked him about Project CARE (Communications and Respect for Everybody). It is a social program they started right out of the gate aimed at helping homeless people more easily communicate with family, employers, social services, doctors, and so on. Using GrandCentral, individuals in need receive a free local phone number and voicemail box for life. The program is currently offered in the San Francisco area but there are plans to go nationwide.
What impresses me about Project CARE is that GrandCentral saw how their technology and services could really benefit people in need, right from the inception of the company.
“We always wanted to use our services to help the community around us” says Craig, “and we strongly feel that private companies can be very effective when deploying new and enhanced technologies to help social problems. We focused on the homeless because we realized that without a local phone number of voicemail system there is virtually no way to get out of the cycle of homelessness. How do you get a job if thereâ€™s no way to reach you? Housing? Health Care? We also started working with a number of battered womenâ€™s shelters who have similar issues of needing an ability to communicate with the outside world when everything else is lost.”
We had a recent dump of snow in our area, enough to close schools for a day and wreak havoc on commuter traffic, and my son asked me about what the homeless do in weather like this. Well, what do they do? I think it’s an unfortunate fact that we don’t generally think of people in desparate situations until our own situation turns a little upside down. Indeed, living on the street in winter is something my kids can’t comprehend. Kudos to GrandCentral for putting their great product to greater use.