So, there I was eating lunch at the SoBe Whole Foods Market and I noticed a barrel with a sign over it. Secure The Call. What the..? The sign with pictures of several older cell-phones got me to thinking. Over the past 12 years or so, I’ve collected over 6 cell phones that sat in a box. Some made it to a recycling center; some just got tossed into the trash.
After speaking with the president of Secure the Call, Mike Morgan told me why the barrel was in the Whole Foods Market and what is missing from the equation in Miami Beach; they don’t have any local Community Partners.
Before I get into what a Community Partner is, I’d like to give you a little mission and statistics information.
Secure the Call is a charity with a single mission; to collect and convert as many old cell phones as possible into 911 emergency access phones. This is done on a national basis, with collections and distributions going on in most states.
Now the stats: (Low Estimate) There are ~ 350 MM people in the United States. 80% of Americans have a cell phone. The average cell phone life is an average of two years before the battery goes or the provider offers a free upgrade w/another two year term. That translates to 350 MM x 80% x (1/2) = ~140 MM cell phones sold in the USA every year (Source).
Now, let’s take the MB resident figure and apply the same equation. 90,000 x 80% x (1/2) = ~ 36,000 cell phones sold every year here.
So, it’s safe to say 36k people in Miami Beach have cell phones. 14.4% of Miami Beach residents are seniors. But, according to Mr. Morgan, approximately 47% of all seniors don’t own a cell phone. So, approximately 13,000 seniors in just the Beach area don’t have a cell phone. Given the fact that Miami-Dade County is the 6th most populace in the USA, I’d estimate that number a lot higher.
Here’s the real need for the Secure the Call service locally.
Mr. Morgan related one of the major problems seniors have is falling down. Others include heart attacks, disorientation in an accident, and a myriad of other life threatening situations.
This is where Secure the Call comes in. They collect old cell phones, sell-off the unusable, refurbish the usable, and redistribute them to seniors and battered women.
The phones are wiped clean of any personal data left on them via an intern program established to help high school students earn credit toward graduation. The phones are then set to call 911 only and are given to seniors and woman who have no phones or can’t afford them. Yes, the program is free! Additionally, a volunteer teaches the recipients how to use their new emergency phone.
Now, I did say South Beach Whole Foods Market does have a recycling cell phone barrel in the store. (It’s in the community corner by the food counters, by the way) But, WFM is not a Community Partner. They have the barrel in the store, but Secure the Call still has to collect the phones and refurb or sell them to phone recyclers. And they do not send refurbed phones back to Miami for distribution at the moment. There simply is no one here to receive them, distribute them and teach seniors and battered woman how they work.
So, in essence, the phone you donate goes to someone outside your community; hence, the need for a Community Partner.
A Community Partner is pretty much a professional business offering cooperation between citizens, community and institutional resources. In this case, Secure the Call is looking for partners aiding in collection, distribution and instruction for local community citizens. The best candidates are:
- A Sheriff or Police Dept
- Grocery Stores
- Senior Centers
- Retirement Communities
We have a lot of them here. Secure the Call could use the help if you’re interested.
But for the cell phone user, we are putting thousands of cell phones in our local dumps. We are buying thousands of new cell phones every year—and this cycle is repeating. By discarding a useful cell phone, you waste the resource and deny others a possible emergency phone. So, please consider:
Donation of your cell phone is a tax deduction. A return label is provided for you here to send it off if you can’t get to one of the barrels at Whole Foods.
You can even download the tax deduction form from the Secure the Call website.
Some parting thoughts: Many times, cell phones given to recycling centers don’t get recycled at all; they go to the dump. (More on this another time) Your refurbished phone is a free 911 only service to seniors and battered woman. Your personal information is deleted so the phone is clean. You may help save someone’s life.
For more information on how you can participate, please email Secure the Call or call 301.891.2900. And stay safe guys and gals.