FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Fairfield teen Jacqueline Kaiser recently received international attention for her efforts to transform discarded mobile phones into lifelines for victims of domestic violence.
Kaiser, a 16-year-old junior at Fairfield Warde High School, spoke about her program, "Calls 4 Justice," at a spring conference on gender equality co-sponsored by UN Women and the Foundation for Gender Equality at the United Nations.
Last year, Kaiser launched "Calls 4 Justice," which takes used, deactivated cell phones and arranges for Verizon Wireless to wipe them clean and transform them into emergency phones with 100 minutes of airtime. The phones are then given to domestic violence programs, which in turn give them to clients for emergencies. The teen’s project began during her sophomore year. As she cleaned her room, Kaiser had an epiphany.
“I found four phones in my room I wasn’t using anymore,” she said. “We all have them sitting around or tucked in drawers. And I began to wonder who might need them.”
Her curiosity led her to The Center for Family Justice, a local nonprofit that offers crisis and support services to victims of domestic and sexual violence in Bridgeport, Fairfield, Easton, Monroe, Trumbull and Stratford.
At the center, Kaiser learned its clients often receive emergency cell phones as part of their safety planning. Soon, Kaiser had collected more than 100 discarded, outdated phones from her fellow students at Warde, as well as Fairfield Ludlowe High School.
After she exhausted the supply of used mobile phones from the high schools, Kaiser sought out a more expansive supply chain, eventually partnering with Stamford-based Starwood Hotels. The international hospitality chain now donates unclaimed phones left by hotel guests to Kaiser’s nonprofit.
“When we were organizing the conference, we were looking for young people doing inspiring work to promote gender equality and Jacqueline immediately came to mind,” said Jill Fitzburgh, who serves on The Center for Family Justice's board of directors and co-founded The Foundation for Gender Equality with her husband, Richard. “What’s so great about what’s she’s doing is that it has the capacity to change lives, but it doesn’t require a lot of time or money to be involved. Yet, it’s so impactful.”
In addition to leading "Calls 4 Justice," Kaiser is also a volunteer at the center and an active member of the RAAFT club at Warde, which raises awareness about issues related to domestic and sexual violence within the school and community.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.