Whitfields cell phone drive benefits battered women and environment
August 28, 2008 · Updated 9:27 AM
MARYSVILLE Its not often you hear the phrases cell phone and drive together in the same sentence in a positive tense.
But Whitfield Helping Hands would like people to reconsider during their second annual cell phone drive to benefit the Snohomish County Center for Battered Women.
First, cell phones are discarded all the time as people constantly upgrade to newer and fancier gadgets, said Jeff Olsen, a partner in the four-office business. Any phone that works can still be used to call 911 in emergencies, regardless of the carrier or the status of the SIM card, Olsen said.
For the shelters clients those could literally be a life saver, as the center hands them out to women who are tight on funds who might not have a land-line to use in case of an emergency. So a phone that might not have the latest bells and whistles can still serve a purpose, and thats better than throwing them in the garbage, Olsen said.
And thats another problem the helping hands want to tackle. Cell phones pose an environmental hazard when they are discarded, particularly the batteries, but they can be recycled responsibly, and last year the phone drive collected about 1,000 phones. The ones that werent working were turned over to a recycler, who then remitted a donation back to the Center for Battered Women for each one.
It is pretty darn good for the environment, Olsen said.
Whitfields will be collecting the phones, chargers, manuals, cases, holsters and other accessories at their four offices, including the Marysville office at 1059 State Avenue, No. B. The collection drive will continue through October, the Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
According to Olsen the company voted on community relations projects at a shareholders meeting three years ago and the battered womens center was the top vote-getter by far. At first they conducted a company-wide internal drive but expanded it the next year.
There were just a ton of them, Olsen said.
The center reported their revenues rose by 20 percent during the phone drive month, proof that the drive was worthwhile. Olsen said shareholders were stunned to learn that while the center helped 250 people last year, more than 800 were turned away.
As an underwriter who helps people everyday who have endured disasters both physical and financial, Olsen said he always wondered what happened to person number 251, and 252, and 253
While hes never faced domestic violence himself, he serves on the centers board and so the issue gets under his skin. It also helps that the money generated by the phone drive is unrestricted; that means the center can spend the money where its needed, unlike government grants which have to be directed to a narrowly defined use.
This gives our employees an opportunity to do something for the community, Olsen said.
But its not a zero-sum game, the golf fanatic said. Giving time and energy to others has proven to be a great moral boost in the office, as workers get an opportunity to shine in another sphere, away from work.
You cant believe the improvement to morale, Olsen said. Its just been a blast. Its been a lot of fun to be involved.
Phones can be donated at the following locations. For more information call Whitfields at 425-258-2300 or visit their
Web site at www.whitfields.com.
Whitfields Insurance Branch Locations
Everett Main Office
PO Box 1127
Everett, WA 98206
Toll free 800-726-8771
1059 State Ave., No. B
PO Box 128
Marysville, WA 98270
Toll free 800-505-9317
23607 Highway 99, No. 3C
PO Box 879
Edmonds, WA 98026
1129 West Main St., Suite 128
PO Box 100
Monroe, WA 98272
Toll free 800-394-7577