Thursday, May 18, 2006
7 News Features: Phoning for Free
Could you imagine living without a phone? For some South Floridians it's a reality, because they can't afford it. But a new program is helping those people reach out and touch someone. 7's Tom Haynes is showing us it's as close as you get to phoning for free.
WSVN--Phoning home proved to be a challenge for E.T.
And it can be just as tough for some people.
Sentrina Travis: "It's hard to be able to communicate with my kids. I have to call neighbors and check in and make sure that they're okay."
Sentrina Travis doesn't have a home phone.
Sentrina Travis: "As a mom, I worry a lot they're on my mind constantly."
The cost keeps her and thousands of other Floridians disconnected from their loved ones.
Sentrina Travis: "I have other bills and it's hard."
Richard Lemus: "But, it may get easier through a public assistance program called Lifeline. It helps low-income families afford a phone."
Marta Casas-Celaya: "Lifeline will pay up to $13.50 towards the basic local service of a customer."
To qualify, your income must fall below the poverty level and you have to be eligible for government programs, like food stamps.
Then depending on how much you make, Bell South will determine how much your bill would be.
In certain situations, you could be paying as low as 6 dollars a month for phone service.
Marta Casas-Celaya: "We strongly urge people to do this, because in this day and age it's a real savings to people."
And this "savings", could be a real "life-saver".
Mark Jamison: "It's important for people to have phone services if they want to be able to find work being able to reach family, medical services or social services also."
Eutha Gray: "I thought it could work for me and I immediately signed up for it."
Eutha Gray has six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren who live out of state.
Before she got the 4-1-1 on Lifeline, she had to cut calls short.
Eutha Gray: "There've been times that I've been hesistant using the phone because of the bill."
But, after dialing into the program, she's back on the line.
Eutha Gray: "I can call them at will, without hesistating or worrying about the cost of it."
Sentrina says it's just a matter of time before she gets connected.
Sentrina Travis: "The lifeline program would help me be able to get a phone. I would have peace of mind because I would be able to talk to my kids."
Like Eutha, she plans to let her fingers do the walking, while she does the talking.
Eutha Gray:"It's so much fun to hear them, and they all call me nana just to hear their voices means so much to me."
Phone companies in Florida are required to offer lifeline.
It's paid for, in part, through a service fee included in all of our bills.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: