And, a Pittsburgh CVM client talks about how she received her CVM number and how she's using it:
"Community Voice Mail is available to anybody going through a crisis or a major transition," said Katie Shogan, program manager for the free service.
Fully 90 percent of the people who have signed up say they are using Community Voice Mail as part of their job-seeking efforts, Ms. Shogan said. Other reasons for enrolling include apartment hunting, 82 percent; keeping in touch with health-care providers, 78 percent; and communicating with social services agencies, 61 percent.
Two-thirds of those who have signed up for the Pittsburgh-area program are male. More than 40 percent are between the ages of 26 and 44.
More than half, 56 percent, are homeless, and another 14 percent say they are at risk of losing their present accommodations. About 42 percent are unemployed, and 20 percent are disabled.
"Community Voice Mail offers them a means to be connected again," Ms. Shogan said. "If you are trying to find a job or a house or stay in touch with your doctor, it's important to have a voice mail box. If you can't be called back, you can miss out on some great opportunities."
A fairly typical client, using this simple tool as she strives to improve her situation. Not having a reliable phone number is an impediment to people who are motivated to change their lives.
Ms. McMillan signed up for Community Voice Mail at the recommendation of counselors at the Mon Valley Initiative, a nonprofit coalition of community and economic development groups.
A 1976 graduate of Duquesne High School, she has worked for a variety of social service agencies and businesses over the years. Seeking retraining, she recently completed a computer-skills class. She hopes to find a new job in any of several fields, including administrative assistant, data-entry clerk or environmental technician.
"Access to voice mail is one of the keys to finding gainful employment," she said. "I'm grateful to have it."
She also hopes that the free voice-mail service will help her in her hunt for a new apartment. She was burned out of her home earlier this month.