CRAWFORDVILLE, Fla. (WTXL) — Not having a way to call for help during an emergency can be crippling, or even life-threatening. That's why Project Helping Hands is working to make sure even those enduring financial hardship have access to phone service.
Project Helping Hands gives away free communication to people who are in need and qualify for phones and or discounted tablets. Customer service rep Monica Cherry routinely lists off the life circumstances that make people eligible.
"If they receive food stamps, Social Security, WIC, housing, low income, less than 29,000 a year, veterans, pension, have a tribal card, then they qualify," she said.
She also says signing people up for service gives them fuller lives, "because these are the guys that normally can't afford a phone or can't afford communication, you know, because they are homeless, or because they are not making enough money to afford to pay the rent, and the lights, and a phone bill, so they're making choices to keep the vital things going and not being able to have communication."
Helping also gives her a sense of purpose.
"For me it's all about just knowing that they have that in their hand, if at that moment that they have a medical emergency, they can dial 911 to get that help," Cherry said.
Her daughter, Chelsea Cherry, works with her as they move around the Big Bend to reach as many rural areas as possible.
"The biggest difference is the transportation," Chelsea said. "A lot of people can't get down to Woodville or Crawfordville, so we may have to drive our truck and set up here or in Tallahassee, so we drive multiple places."
The Cherrys worked to get service for Alicia Jackson, who lives in Crawfordville on low income.
"I have five girls and two boys," Jackson said, adding she plans to use a new phone "to be able to contact my kids when I'm not around them, or with them, I'll have a way to reach out to them and check on them."
Her kids are seven of the many reasons the Cherrys are happy to offer free phones through Project Helping Hands.
If you believe you may qualify, you can contact Monica Cherry.