Daily Point of Light # 2682 May 17, 2004

BellSouth has a rich tradition of community service, highlighted by its significant charitable investment in its communities, including monetary contributions, sponsorships, and in-kind donations totaling more than $42 million annually. The BellSouth Pioneers, a volunteer organization of more than 100,000 active and retired employees are the primary community service arm of the corporation. Pioneers are organized into nine chapters (one in each state the company serves), 75 distinct groups of active employees and 91 groups of retired employees known as Life Members, spread throughout the entire southeast region.

Focusing on teacher support, recruitment and retention, the Quality in the Classroom program is designed to build on BellSouth’s commitment to education and provide a comprehensive, targeted effort to address these important educational issues in the Southeast. It includes a partnership with a nonprofit or educational institution in each state in the BellSouth region, reflects the diversity of BellSouth’s employees and the customers served, includes a strong volunteer component and leverage BellSouth’s expertise in technology.

BellSouth and the American Red Cross have joined forces on Together, We Prepare initiative in which BellSouth employees participate in training that will give them the resources and knowledge to educate audiences on homeland security issues, how to build disaster preparedness kits, how to develop a family disaster response plan and volunteer response to a disaster. Hundreds of BellSouth employees and retirees are also being trained in emergency preparedness and rapid response activities to assist Georgians in the event of a disaster.

BellSouth has also taken a leadership role in Business Strengthening America (BSA), President Bush’s community service initiative. Throughout the region, thousands of employees have participated in community projects that fall under the BSA umbrella. In Georgia, BellSouth teamed with Habitat for Humanity to create a “Community of Dreams,” in which hundreds of employees and retirees built new homes for low-income families.

Pioneers distribute A Book About ME personalized readers to elementary school children in an effort to encourage reading and instill self-confidence in young children. To date, more than 87,000 books have been distributed throughout BellSouth’s region.

In Florida, BellSouth addressed a serious need in the Palm Beach County School District. The school district had Net TV and Presentation Stations that sat idle in the classrooms because the current wiring was incompatible with the new equipment. BellSouth Pioneers took on the project and wire more than 60 classroom, placed over 150 jacks, giving Net TV connections to 1,685 students.