Proper identification is something we all need. There is not much we can do without some form of ID and usually, we need more than just one. It’s just something we don’t leave home without.
For the homeless, obtaining proper identification can be a difficult process. Often, all possessions may have been left behind, or wallets or purses may have been stolen. Sometimes, coming up with official documentation that is needed for securing a replacement ID simply isn’t available and it has become even more difficult as stricter regulations have been implemented for Homeland Security.
“Without proper identification, individuals are unable to take the steps to help them return to self sufficiency,” Jessie Figueroa, Program Manager at IDignity said. “Housing, employment, education, access to social services, check cashing, voting, and other essential items to being a productive member of society are all an impossibility without ID.”
IDignity was created for this very reason. The purpose is to assist the disadvantaged in Central Florida to navigate the complexities of obtaining their personal identification, such as birth certificates, Florida ID cards and Social Security cards.
Realizing this problem that the homeless were faced with, community leaders and members of five downtown churches came together to hold the first IDignity event in May of 2008. Founders include Michael Dippy, now Executive Director, and Jacqueline Dowd, Attorney.
“Not only has the cost for IDs and driver licenses risen in Florida in the past few years, but the requirements have also increased,” Figueroa said.
Figueroa said that the Federal Real ID Act requires that individuals must show proof of identity (birth certificate, passport, or immigration/citizenship documents), proof of Social Security, and proof of residence to obtain a Florida ID/Driver’s License.
However, an ID is required to order a birth certificate and Social Security card. “IDignity solves this ‘catch 22′ by bringing together government agencies, the faith community, businesses, volunteers, and attorneys to provide legal representation to our clients at no cost,” Figueroa explained.
The IDignity program does not have any income restrictions for those using the service. Figueroa did say that the majority that are served are homeless, low income or are disadvantaged. In some other way.
IDignity Orlando assists clients through monthly events hosted by the Orlando Union Rescue Mission and other sites throughout the Central Florida area. Visit the event schedule page on the IDignity website. Upcoming events include Orlando Union Rescue Mission on October 16, First Presbyterian Church in Deland on October 21 and St. Stephens Lutheran Church in Longwood on November 18.
IDignity depends on the generous investment of time and resources by the local community in order to fulfill its mission of restoring dignity and hope by providing identification for all the people of area served.
Donations of funds and volunteer time are always welcomed. Each client averages $125 and four hours of volunteer time, and we assist 250 clients at each monthly event. To volunteer, or to make a donation, please visit the IDginity website.