Mobile phones are lifeline that keep street people safe, and better connected to society, says homeless advocate Judy Graves.

Graves, who retired two years ago as the City of Vancouver's advocate for the homeless, is pushing the Street Messaging System which is designed to send mass messages via text to the homeless population about shelter, food services, health alerts and employment and training opportunities.

"It's an oral story community and so if we can get messages out to even one third of the people in the street, we know that they'll tell other people in the street," she told Rick Cluff on CBC Radio One's The Early Edition

"It is without exception the fastest way of getting the story out."

Graves is working with the Vancouver Community Network on the Street Message System project and says donations of used and refurbished cell phones are welcome. She is pushing more service providers on the Downtown Eastside to participate in the program. Covenant House is already on board. 

As Graves continues her advocacy work well beyond retirement, she will receive an honorary degree from Simon Fraser University on Wednesday night. 

"I flunked out of high school. I didn't go to university, so really they're honouring the people in the street who were my professors, they taught me everything," she said. 

Mobile phones can be donated to the Vancouver Community Network at 280-111 West Hastings St. in Vancouver. 

To hear the full interview with Judy Graves, listen to the audio labelled: Judy Graves to receive honorary degree from SFU.