Dear Community Voicemail Partner Agency,
I am writing to inform you that the national Community Voicemail Program will be closing on December 31, 2015. Active clients will be allowed to keep their voicemail numbers through March 31, 2016, an additional 90 days past the close date, to allow some time for transition.
You may continue to sign clients up for the service through December 31st; however, effective immediately we request that you notify new clients that this is a temporary phone number that they can use only through March 31, 2016 and only if they are checking it regularly.
Any unused, inactive numbers in your inventory will be disconnected on Monday, January 4, 2016. We will be asking you to shred and discard any security logs or intake forms at that time, unless you are required to keep the forms by your agency for a certain amount of time.
The national office or host site manager will be sending a broadcast message to all current CVM users by Friday, October 30, letting them know of this closure in order to give them as much time as possible to seek an alternative communication solution. Periodic reminder broadcasts will be sent over the coming months and will include information about any potentially relevant alternate services we discover such as Lifeline (www.lifelinesupport.org) or Google Voice.
This closure does not come lightly. Last summer, Springwire, the national nonprofit that provided the Community Voicemail program had to close its doors due to lack of sustainable program funding. Feeding America, the nation’s network of food banks, agreed to continue the CVM program for 18 months during a “Research Phase” while they determined the need for and feasibility of offering it within their own network of food banks. The 18 months ends in December and after much due diligence, Feeding America has determined that there is not enough need and demand to continue to offer the program. In addition, there are some technology upgrade and other discovered issues that would make it too challenging to try to transition it to a new organization, even if there was one willing.
It is with deep regret that the program is being sunset. We all recognize that it is still a vital service for many vulnerable individuals as well as for our agency partners. We are grateful that despite continued funding, we have been able to offer it for an additional 18 months instead of having to close it last June, allowing thousands more to stay connected to employers, doctors, case managers, and family.
We will be in touch in the coming months with reminders and any additional resources or information. Thank you for all you have done and continue to do to keep people connected.
The Cleveland Foodbank locally has been the local provider over the last two years. They had taken over after First Call for Help passed on the program. NEOCH was the original sponsor of the program from the late 1990s until 2007 here in Cleveland. Our staff, Michael Gibbs, served on the national board for Community Voice Mail, and had created a strong program. This was a wonderful program for homeless people until the expansion of the Lifeline program and the introduction of Google phones. Homeless people have a lot more technical solutions in order to get messages compared to the 1990s. It is sad that this program died. It was a really innovative program back in the day. It may have outlasted it useful life.
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