Lifeline for domestic-violence survivors

Verizon Wireless had several reasons for adopting domestic violence as a cause: Most people get their first cell phones for safety.

Domestic violence follows victims to work, in the form of absenteeism, lost productivity, medical costs and danger to coworkers, so there was a business motive.

Finally, domestic violence will affect 1 in 4 women, 1 in 9 men and more than 3 million children, so doing something about it helps the community at large.

Verizon's latest contribution — $100,000 to endow a University of Kentucky scholarship for domestic violence survivors — should serve as a challenge to others looking to make a lasting difference.

Carol Jordan, assistant provost and director of UK's Center for Research on Violence Against Women, hopes to raise enough money to fund five scholarships in the newly created Women's Empowerment Scholarship Program.

One of the main reasons women stay in abusive relationships is they can't afford to leave and would be unable to support themselves and their children. A college degree greatly boosts earning power, so access to education is also an escape hatch from violence.

A $100,000 endowment generates about $4,000 a year. UK is promising to package other financial aid, as well as academic support, for the scholarship recipient.

The Bluegrass Domestic Violence Association also is promising advocacy and protection.

Anyone who has an old cell phone or accessory (yes, even chargers) can help by donating them to Verizon's HelpLine, which refurbishes the equipment and sells it, often overseas, with proceeds providing grants to domestic violence programs.

Verizon also donates refurbished phones, with 3,000 minutes of service, to shelters and law enforcement agencies to provide domestic violence victims with quick access to emergency responders, family and friends. Phones that can't be refurbished are recycled in environmentally safe ways.

Giving new life to old phones can help do the same for women and their children.