Open Access continues to be a chief voice about Lifeline telecom issues for low-income and homeless persons at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. Open Access has been focusing on consumer education now that more companies are in service. OAC has put out a series of broadcast messages to voice mail users with information regarding how to get a phone, what each company offers, and has provided written materials about each company with contact info. With the first telecom companies being approved to provide the federally-funded Lifeline cell phones, Open Access has been key in providing comments to the commission regarding the needs of individuals who would use the program. Thanks to comments provided by Open Access and other partners, the quality of those proposals has improved—offering more minutes per month, free customer service and 911 calls, and more reasonable fees for people to buy additional minutes. As more companies are approved to offer Lifeline service in Minnesota, Open Access has been a watchdog for the quality of service and handsets, minutes provided, and customer service for the low-income and homeless people that rely on them. Three companies are currently in operation, offering varying plans and services. Customers can research which service would best fit their needs and choose which company to use. Open Access will continue to keep theses companies honest with our comments and advocacy to best serve Lifeline users. Cell phones have become an essential communication tool, and we see them as a critical partner to our voice mail numbers, as people can rely on Open Access voice mail as their “business number,” which is always active even if they’ve run out of cell phone minutes. Contact Open Access at firstname.lastname@example.org for information on current Lifeline companies.
Open Access’ grassroots outreach is a core aspect of our services. Open Access is happy to announce a new partnership with the Minneapolis VA’s Community Resource and Referral Center (CRRC). Open Access will offer voice mail outreach twice a month for CRRC clients, made up of veterans experiencing homelessness. Outreach at CRRC is every first and third Wednesday of the month from 8:30am-10:30am.
The Outreach team has been doing great work with their outreach efforts throughout the Twin Cities at the Opportunity Center, Harbor Light, and Dorothy Day. In addition to providing voice mail numbers and customer service to users, they also provide information on Lifeline phones, offer referrals to community resources, and promote the 50+ Generation group. Thanks to the Outreach Team for their continued hard work!
Voting and Civic Engagement:
Open Access’ Outreach Team and the members of the 50+ Generation group teamed up this past fall to register people to vote, encourage people to go vote, and to vote no on voter ID. Their efforts were a huge success, registering almost 300 people to vote and gathering close to 400 voter pledges. They visited eight shelters throughout the metro area and focused their outreach on people experiencing homelessness. This group frequently is alienated from public discourse and decision-making, and our outreach aimed to decrease those barriers to civic engagement. In the future, Open Access hopes to continue our voter outreach in local and national elections.
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- How is our voicemail helpful to you? (3/6/2015) - Recently, Open Access Connections sent out a broadcast message asking individuals on our community voicemail to share how having a voicemail number has been a useful communication tool. Here is a response from a Cheryl Kenney who relies on her voicemail for basic communication: “Yes, hello I would like to say that I’ve benefited […]
- Section 8 Step-by-Step Guide (2/13/2015) - The Metro HRA will be accepting online applications for the Housing Choice Waiting List from 8 am Tuesday, February 24 until noon Friday, February 27. The Metro HRA will place 2,000 applicants on the waiting list through a random drawing from all applications received in the 3 day open period. Sections 8 Housing program will […]
- MFIP Increase: Response #1 (2/2/2015) - Open Access Connections recently sent our a broadcast message to all of our community voice mail users across the state inquiring as to how $100 increase to MFIP would help their family. Sharon Neal was the first to respond to our broadcast. Click here to listen to her response. “Hi this is Sharon Neal. I […]
- Consumer Advisory Against Free Cell Phone Provider Access Wireless (9/29/2014) - Open Access Connections would like to inform the public of a poor customer service incident regarding the free cell phone Lifeline provider Access Wireless. Recently an Access Wireless customer was given a non-operational cell phone with a non-local Arizona area code. When the customer called customer service to have these issues resolved, he was on […]
- Thank you for making our walk such a success! (9/29/2014) - Open Access Connections would like to thank the volunteers, donors, and participants that made our 6th Annual Picnic Walk a success. More than 80 people participated in the event, and more than 70 donors contributed more than $4,200 to support our work. Thank you again, and we look forward to seeing you next year!
- 6th Annual Picnic and Walk, Saturday September 13! (9/9/2014) - On Saturday September 13th, more than 100 people will come and celebrate the important work at Open Access Connections at beautiful Minnehaha Park. We hope that you can join us for an afternoon of food, games, and camaraderie. You can find more information about our walk, or sponsor one of walkers, at our official walk […]
- Voice Mail Outreach now at St. Paul Midway WorkForce Center (5/15/2014) - We are happy to announce that our Grassroots Voice Mail Outreach has been expanded to the St. Paul Midway WorkForce Center. Trained outreach workers will be able to distribute our free voice mail services on Mondays between 1:30-3:30pm within the lobby of the St. Paul WorkForce Center. For a full list of outreach locations and […]
- Lifeline Free Cell Phone (4/22/2014) - We are happy to announce that we have added a section to our website about the federal Lifeline program, which provides phone subsidies for a home landline phone or a free cell phone with limited minutes. You can learn more about the Lifeline program, and the 8 companies providing Lifeline free cell phones at Lifeline […]
- Updated Lifeline Materials (12/4/2013) - Open Access Connections staff have researched and updated our Lifeline educational materials. These materials are current as of 12/2/13. Overview of Lifeline in MN Free Phone & Terracom FAQ Cell Phone & Voice Mail Have additional information or questions, contact Sean 651-603-5147
- MCH Conference Materials (10/11/2013) - Attached are the materials used in our Lifeline presentation at the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless Conference. Lifeline PowerPoint Lifeline Providers in MN Free Phone & Terracom FAQ
- 5th Annual Picnic and Walk a Success! (9/26/2013) - This past Saturday’s 5th Annual Walk & Picnic was a huge success! It was a beautiful and cool morning to begin Open Access Connection Annual Walk at Minnehaha Park. We had a great turnout among the Board, Staff, 50+ Generation Group, Open Access voice mail participants, and other community members. Big thanks to all that […]
- You are invited to the Open Access Picnic and Walk (9/11/2013) - Join us for a leisurely walk through beautiful Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis, followed by a picnic and celebration of the good work done by Open Access Connections and its work building justice and a link to dignity, empowerment and hope . Celebrate Open Access Connections’ continued success with a gathering of friends and advocates. Bring […]
- Updated Lifeline materieals (8/27/2013) - Open Access Connections has researched and developed informational materials about the 7 companies providing Lifeline cell phones in Minnesota, the closure of the 3rd party Lifeline distributor Free Phone Minnesota, and the security breech experienced by the Lifeline company Terracom Wireless. Click here to learn more about the 7 companies providing free Lifeline cell phones […]
- Voting and Civic Engagement (2/6/2013) - Open Access’ Outreach Team and the members of the 50+ Generation group teamed up this past fall to register people to vote, encourage people to go vote, and to vote no on voter ID. Their efforts were a huge success, registering almost 300 people to vote and gathering close to 400 voter pledges. They visited […]
- Outreach (2/6/2013) - Open Access’ grassroots outreach is a core aspect of our services. Open Access is happy to announce a new partnership with the Minneapolis VA’s Community Resource and Referral Center (CRRC). Open Access will offer voice mail outreach twice a month for CRRC clients, made up of veterans experiencing homelessness. Outreach at CRRC is every first […]
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- Join us for the 4th Annual Open Access Connections Walk/Picnic on September 8th! (8/28/2012) - Join us for a leisurely walk through Minneapolis’ beautiful Minnehaha Park, followed by a picnic and celebration of the good work done by Open Access. Celebrate Open Access Connections’ continued success with a gathering of friends and advocates. Bring your friends and family! Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis – Wabun Picnic shelter A Saturday, September 8, […]
- Open Access at Homeless Connect (12/22/2011) - On December 12, 2011, people who are homeless had the opportunity to participate in Homeless Connect Hennepin. Open Access Connections connected over 100 people with a free voice mail number at Homeless Connect. KFAI radio covered Homeless Connect. Part of their story was about Open Access Connections, our voice mail program, and our recent funding […]
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- OPEN ACCESS IS IN JEOPARDY. WE NEED YOUR HELP!!! (8/3/2011) - Economic recovery continues to be evasive. This is true for the thousands of people who use our free voice mail services daily, and now it is true for our organization as well. In the wake of the Minnesota state shutdown, Open Access Connections finds itself without a key grant through the Department of Human Services […]
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- NEW REPORT TO BE RELEASED ON BRIDGING DIGITAL DIVIDE FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE HOMELESS (6/8/2011) - For many homeless people, their connection to the digital mainstream is tenuous at best. Join Open Access Connections at a gathering when we release our report about bridging the digital divide for people who are homeless. SAVE THE DATE: Monday, June 20, 2011 – 1:30-4:30 p.m. – at the Communications Workers of America AFL-CIO Local […]
- Envisioning an Internet Center for Homeless Individuals (4/5/2011) - Open Access Connections partnered with a Research Assistant, Rebecca Orrick, from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs to find out about how people who are homeless access the internet, how limited access is for them, and what they would like developed to help them gain more access and learn computer and […]
- Voice Mail Users Give Opinions on State Budget (4/5/2011) - Open Access Connections asked our participants through a voice mail broadcast their ideas about what they would say to the Governor and State Legislature about their priorities for the Minnesota state budget. Here’s a video with some of their responses. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzMraodR8sY
- Open Access Connections on KFAI’s TruthToTell (12/21/2010) - Open Access Connections staff and board members were interviewed on KFAI’s Truth To Tell show Monday, December 20. Learn more and listen to the whole show.
- We’re Proud to Launch our New Name and Website (10/6/2010) - This fall, Twin Cities Community Voice Mail officially became Open Access Connections. Along with the new name, we have a new logo and website, but we still offer the same great support you’ve come to know and expect. Thanks to everyone who helped make this new site a reality. Why did we change our name? […]
- Open Access Connections in the News (10/6/2010) - Here is some recent media coverage of our organization. Open Access Strengthens its Services for Low Income People in Central Minnesota News Release [PDF] Homeless Given Cell Phones To Help Them Get Jobs, Homes In St. Paul Source: Huffington Post Cell phones for the homeless: Helping them connect with jobs, homes Source: Minn Post St. […]