Posted at: 09/28/2012 6:23 PM
By: Brittany Lewis
Free Phone Program Gives Families Peace of Mind
(ABC 6 NEWS) -- It seems like everyone has a cell phone these days, but in reality, they are something not all people can afford.
Dolores Garcia is the mother of four. Her youngest, a four-month-old baby was born two months premature. Right now, she is on disability. With just her husband’s income providing for the entire family, affording a cell phone is out of the question.
"It's hard because we have to use our neighbors phone,” she said.
As a mother, that is hard for her to handle.
"We're supposed to have ya know our children so if something were to happen they can ya know communicate with us. It wasn't a good feeling,” she added.
But a state funded program called Freecell Phone Minnesota is changing that.
"We're delivering free cell phones for people that have low income,” said Rosa Narvev of the Parenting Resource Center in Austin.
To qualify for the program, individuals must show proof of income eligibility with something like food stamps or Section 8 Housing.
Meaning a family of four would only be making less than $32,000 a year.
"They can have a line in case emergency or for able to communicate in case they need work,” said Narvev.
The phones were distributed at noon at the Welcome Center in Austin, but many came much earlier, hoping the small device will make a big difference in their lives.
"I have a son with special needs so it's really important that I know what's going on with him at all times,” said Audrey Slape.
And with 250 free minutes each month, the program will bring peace of mind to families like Garcia.
The Welcome Center and Parenting Resources Center in Austin worked together to provide a space for the program. They estimate 200 to 300 people were there to get those phones.