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 Office of Economic Opportunity. This is the first time since we began in 1994 that no funding from this department has been available to us. In addition, we have seen our longtime foundation donors cut their grants this year considerably or eliminate them altogether. This perfect storm poses a severe and imminent threat.

Our ability to provide our voice mail service to homeless and low income people who do not have reliable telephone service is at risk.

Imagine for a moment you are filling out a job application. You’ve reached the line where the application asks for a phone number. You don’t have a telephone because you are homeless and staying at a shelter. How can the potential employer offer you a job when he can’t even call you? Without a job, you can’t earn money to afford a place to live. You ask yourself, “How am I ever going to get back on my feet again?”

This life-sustaining tool helps people get on their feet. People who do not have a phone have been faced with difficult choices in their lives because their incomes are so low. They must choose among food, housing, clothing and a phone. The phone is always the first to go, yet it is an essential tool to help people out of their unemployment, their homelessness, their abusive situation. We are the only community voice mail program in Minnesota, and because of our active outreach and partnerships with agencies, we are the largest provider of free voice mail to low income people in the United States.

The demand for our services has grown while our funding has decreased. We run a lean organization, support 350 partner agencies across the state, and connect 4600 Minnesotans every year. If we close, there is no substitute.

Please help us in any way that you can to keep this essential

service available to people in need.

You can donate directly on our home page at the GiveMN button.

  • You can connect us with possible funders who would be able to generate funds quickly.
  • You can write a letter of support for us to distribute publicly outlining the importance of our services.
  • You can connect us with key decision makers who might have the ability to provide us with funding.


A few days ago, we did a broadcast to all voice mail users asking them about what voice mail means to them and how it helps them. A broadcast is where we can leave a message for all 2200 voice mail participants, and they can reply to those messages. The response to this broadcast was overwhelming. Here are just a few of the replies that we received.

“This voice mail has helped me dramatically. Right now I’m a struggling vet trying to get back on my feet. It’s been a godsend to me just having the service. It’s the best thing for veterans all over. We really need it.”

“Without it I don’t know what I’d do ………………. Without the system a lot of people will be totally hurt as far as not getting messages they need about jobs, housing, medical and other resources.”

“This voice mail has been a great help to me. I don’t have a phone and can’t afford one. I’m currently in and out of hospitals. I rely on this service for arranging taxis to give me a ride to my dialysis appointments.”

“I’ve had it for just two weeks now but it’s been invaluable to me to have access to people who need to get in touch with me like agencies that are vital to me for housing and finances.”

“It’s invaluable to anyone who has a disability. It’s the only way I’ve been able to keep in touch. If this service is cut, I’ll be deeply affected.”