By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld….
Because she was a tad bored this summer, Palmetto High senior Kara Rubin spent some time trying to figure out what to do with her free hours. She was actually talking to her mom about it when she had the great idea of volunteering at a shelter for domestic violence victims.
“I thought that would be perfect,” Rubin says.
She ended up volunteering at the Perrine location of the Safe Space Women’s Foundation.
“They go to the shelter and the shelter provides a place to stay while they get back on their feet,” she says.
Rubin visited the shelter a few times and she’s been in contact with others about collecting toiletries for the women and children, but she wanted to do more. After talking with people, she decided to develop a major project for Safe Space – collecting used cell phones for later distribution to victims of domestic violence.
“I’m coordinating a phone collection through Verizon (HopeLine),” Rubin says. ”It can be any phone, from any company; the only thing it has to have is a battery. As long as it has a keyboard to make calls, that’s all it needs.”
After she has collected the phones, she will give them to a Verizon representative who will have them refurbished through HopeLine from Verizon. Once refurbished and distributed, women who need help can call either 911 or #Hope – which connects them directly to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
“It gives them communications and helps them stay safe,” Rubin says.
Her goal is to collect 200 phones by October, in honor of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In just the first few weeks she collected 25 phones, and that was even before school started. “Mostly it’s been around my neighborhood,” she says, adding that she went house to house talking to her neighbors. “They all responded and said it’s a great thing I’m doing and they’ve been giving me cell phones.”
Her plan was to ratchet up the collection process once school starts.
“I’m going to try to reach out to local places,” Rubin says. “We’re going to reach out to temples and churches. We’re going to try and set up boxes in stores.”
Rubin is also talking to the clubs at school to see if they can help. “I’m actually part of Red Cross club and I want to see if we can do anything through that group,” she says. “Or maybe the National Honor Society, because this is all a community service project.”
Rubin is used to doing community service, not only through her club, but through her church.
“I actually go to the Goulds homeless shelter once a month with Christ the King Church,” she says.
Once the cell phone collection project ends, Rubin will have more time for other things, such as making college applications – she’s looking at Tulane, the University of Florida, Indiana University and Florida State — and playing lacrosse, which is now a varsity sport.
To donate a cell phone, email Rubin at <email@example.com>.