Posted February 29, 2008 9:00 am by with 16 comments

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

I’m not quite sure how you give away something for free that’s already free, but that’s what Google’s GrandCentral team is doing with Project CARE.

The initiative is designed to help San Francisco’s homeless get back on their feet–by giving them a free GrandCentral voicemail number employers can reach them on. They’ll also be able to keep in contact with local medical clinics.

TechCrunch claimed the announcement was just a re-hash of one made two years ago, then along came GrandCentral co-founder Craig Walker with a clarification:

The point of the announcement yesterday was not to restate the goals of Project CARE but to announce that we are taking Project CARE beyond showing up to these bi-monthly events and are now developing a self-service portal for agencies to be able to create these accounts directly for the homeless people they serve on a daily basis. It was also to announce that we are working directly with the Mayor’s Homeless Policy Director, Dariush Kayhan, to help us develop that portal to fully fill the needs of these agencies. The announcement also was to highlight how now that Google is behind Project CARE that we will have the resources to extend this service to homeless individuals nationwide.

Kudos to Google for helping the homeless, but there’s something kind of sad about the state of our society when you see this statement:

One man who used to be homeless said the right message can raise the spirit.

“Having your family, friends and loved ones being able to say ‘here I’m thinking about you, I love you, I want you to know you’re mine, and I miss you,’ can have a monumental change in one’s behavior.”

Why would we let a family member live on the street, but then call their voicemail to say “I love you?” If you love them, let them sleep on the couch!

  • So, this may be a dumb question, but what phone would homeless people use to check their voicemail? And better yet, how is google going to market this to homeless people? Last time I checked, they don’t use the internet. It is a nice thought though.

  • @Mike – I believe they’re all given new MacBook Airs 😉 Seriously, I think they use the phones at shelters etc.

  • I’d sit in a line at a soup kitchen to get a MacBook Air. lol. God, I want that laptop. Mike, you do have a valid point about marketing the service.

  • I love Google more and more for thier last projects.

  • This is a nice and charitable endevour by Google.

  • Relainer

    Hopefully more people try to accomodate a project like this and integrate it with their own. If so think of the possibilities. It would be a great step in the right direction

  • Andy,

    As an advertiser, I suppose the hardest endeavor in this philanthropic novelty would be how precisely does one plan on making the homeless aware of this new service being offered them? Furthermore, how will the success rate of this new voicemail system be measured along with follow-up of each users account activity? A decent idea but really how successful will it be?


  • How much of this is heart felt and how much just a good sound bite for Google? Sorry if that sounds a bit cynical!

  • This sounds like a cheap PR gimmick. I mean, what the hell do homeless need voice mail for? And second, if they have phones to access voice mail, they probably already have that feature with their plans.

    This latest ploy from G smells!

  • Regardless if Google is acting on their own behalf, or making a move to get some press, someone is still benefiting from their generosity. Those billionaires run a classy shop.

  • @Isabella__They could set up shop at a junction homeless people gather at. The “homeless shelter.” I’m sure they’re in every city, and even the soup kitchens would be an ideal place to start.

  • I completely agree with Don. Cheap PR tactic indeed. They should be giving blankets and food not voicemail.

  • lol they just had to do something high tech. What happened to the good old blankets or sleeping bags? Im sure homeless guys need them more.

  • If they could get some other companies on board and pair that with interview outfits, showers, addresses to use on resumes, and maybe a little cosmetic dentistry, they might have a shot at doing something that would get people off the streets. It’s nice, but like everyone else has said, I’m sure it won’t make nearly as much of a difference as food, sleeping bags, or shelter.

  • Zen

    Coudn’t agree more with Andy. That’s the whole purpose of family, to look after each other and to have one another’s back.

  • I agree with that. It’s amazing how PR can make people think. lol.