Vol­un­teers call for cell­phone do­na­tions for shel­ters

Cell­phone col­lec­tion drive event be­ing held next week to drum up sup­ply

StarMetro Halifax - - HALIFAX - Jonathan Brig­gins FOR STARMETRO

A Hal­i­fax com­mu­nity health ser­vice pro­gram is giv­ing old phones a new life with a cell­phone drive for lo­cal shel­ters.

Mo­bile Out­reach Street Health, known as MOSH, is hold­ing a cell­phone col­lec­tion event in front of the old li­brary on Spring Gar­den Rd. Wednesday, Jan. 16, from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“Hav­ing a cell­phone isn’t nec­es­sar­ily the same lux­ury that it once was,” said Em­i­lie Comeau, a vol­un­teer with MOSH that is lead­ing the col­lec­tion drive.

Comeau points to the ex­pen­sive cost of hav­ing a land­line com­pared to cheap cell­phone plans and the in­creas­ing rar­ity of pay phones in Hal­i­fax. He said that makes mo­bile phones more of a ne­ces­sity.

“Hav­ing a cell­phone re­ally Carol and James were in­ter­viewed on a down­town Hal­i­fax street in 2017. They rely on cell­phones to com­mu­ni­cate with fam­ily mem­bers.pa­trick

is the only way for peo­ple who are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness or (who are in­se­curely) housed to be con­nected in a way,” he said. “So I think it’s re­ally im­por­tant be­cause it

serves as a life­line.”

Phones can be used to call 911 re­gard­less of funds on the phone. Those with a cel­lu­lar plan use the de­vices to con­tact health-care providers,

and com­mu­nity and emer­gency ser­vices. They can also be im­por­tant when peo­ple are re­quired to pro­vide con­tact in­for­ma­tion while seek­ing hous­ing. It also pro­vides a key way to con­nect with fam­ily and friends. Comeau said a cell­phone can also be cru­cial for peo­ple who use shel­ters but rely on phones for their em­ploy­ment. He shared the ex­am­ple of a man who stayed at a shel­ter and had his cell­phone stolen.

“He came into MOSH dis­tressed be­cause he was a mover, and he was get­ting work through peo­ple call­ing his cell­phone,” said Comeau.

“With­out his phone, he was miss­ing out on job af­ter job and was end­ing up hav­ing to stay in the shel­ters … MOSH was able to give him a phone and he went and put money on it and was to­tally back on his feet and was so, so, so grate­ful.”

Comeau said she and a friend were asked by Patti Me­lan­son to take over the cell­phone drive. Me­lan­son, de­scribed as the driv­ing force be­hind MOSH, died in De­cem­ber, three years af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed with cancer.

Any work­ing cell­phone can be do­nated to MOSH. Although WWW.THES­TAR.COM do­nat­ing with an ac­com­pa­ny­ing charger is ideal, it’s not a re­quire­ment. Peo­ple are asked to wipe their phone’s mem­ory be­fore mak­ing a do­na­tion, but MOSH staff can help with that if nec­es­sary. Once the phones are un­locked from the pre­vi­ous owner’s ser­vice car­rier, MOSH dis­trib­utes the de­vices to shel­ters through Hal­i­fax. They’re then given out on a case-by-case ba­sis.

“It’s just so dif­fer­ent for ev­ery­one. There could be some­one who’s home­less and not able phys­i­cally or men­tally or fi­nan­cially … to go to a provider and get a phone plan,” Comeau ex­plained. “Some peo­ple will need a credit his­tory (check) or an ad­dress or this and that.”

The tar­get with next week’s drive is to col­lect at least 100 phones. As it’s an on­go­ing need, phones can be do­nated at Main­line from Mon­day to Fri­day out­side of the do­na­tion drive event.

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