Joinable Gives The Homeless A Foot In The Door With Free Voicemail, E-mail, and Texting

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Hackathon Day Two: The Apps Are In! (TCTV)

We’re midway through the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon (which, by the way, you should be watching live here), and the range of stuff that the hackers have managed to throw together in a mere 24 hours is astounding. Some are trying to find their big payday — others are going for the cool factor or a quick laugh. Some, however, spent their weekend trying to change the world for the better.

It’s the job hunter’s biggest conundrum: the more you need a job, the harder it is to get a job. Lose your job, and you’ll run low on cash. Run low on cash, and you can’t pay for your cell phone — but once you’ve ditched your cell phone, it’s a whole lot harder for potential employers to get in touch. Hackathon group Joinable is trying to solve this problem by providing non-profit organizations with manageable voicemail boxes which they can give out to their patrons/beneficiaries for free.

Take, for an example, a homeless shelter. The homeless shelter designates an administrator, who then adds accounts for each person they wish to provide with a toll-free 800 number connected to a voicemail box. That number can also receive text messages, and each user is given a unique e-mail inbox.

From the administration page, admins can view how many messages each user has received (to see how well their job hunt is going), how recently each user has checked their voicemail inbox (are they still out there searching?), view text messages and transcripts of voicemail messages (are they using the box for its intended purpose?), as well as send out mass message “blasts” to all users under their management (like job hunting tips, or news alerts).

Homeless shelters are an easy example, but certainly not the only one. Probation officers could keep an eye on the job hunts of those under their watch, while organizations like mental health treatment programs or battered women’s shelters could ensure that they always have a secure way of contacting those they’re trying to help. If it’s a non-profit organization that ever needs to reach out to those who may not have any extra cash for a cell phone bill, there’s probably a use or two to be conjured up.

The voicemail service/transcription is built on Twilio, which means there are some fees involved for the non-profit. They’re low enough, however, the most non-profits should be able to provide it to the end-users for free. The guys behind Joinable tell us that they have “no intention of making this into a profitable business”, and that they’d “like to partner with and/or hand it off to an organization or group.”

While there’s currently no user-accessible sign-up process (hey — they built it in 20 hours over the weekend), you can check out an interactive demo of the administration back-end right over here.