You can have all the skills and good intentions it takes to get a job, rent an apartment or sign up for government benefits and subsidies.
Lacking proper identification makes it nearly impossible.
Luckily, for those who don’t have the documents needed to get the necessary paperwork to get a Florida ID or drivers license, there is IDignity, created in Central Florida to help the disadvantaged work through the steps to get documents like birth certificates and Social Security cards.
IDignity Osceola, working locally through the Community Hope Center, has been relying on volunteers to work events since 2008. It held its first quarterly event of 2020 last week; there are three more scheduled for April 24, July 31 and Oct. 23 at First Christian Church of Kissimmee (415 N. Main Street).
Around 120 people were seen at the last one, and over half left with new IDs, the others waiting for documents to be tracked down, usually from other states, said Community Hope Center’s Chief Operation Officer Will Cooper.
“This is a life-changing program. We take for granted that piece of plastic (your license), but it can be difficult to get,” he said. “That’s especially true if you’ve moved a few times and those documents didn’t move with you or got lost.
“Without it, it’s nearly impossible in Florida to get a job, apartment, prescriptions or government subsidies.”
And, a few years ago, the state of Florida made it even tougher, as IDs now must be Real ID compliant, with a verified birth certificate or passport, Social Security card and proof of residence on file.
The fleet of volunteers, and an attorney well versed in all this the CHC keeps at hand, work to get those missing documents from out of state, in many cases. So volunteers, as well as monetary donations, are always accepted, as a county grant to pay the attorney and some of the administrative costs only goes so far.
“It takes about 75 to 90 people to put these on,” Cooper said. “It’s free for our clients, but it’s not free for us to provide it. There are printing costs, and costs with tracking down those out-of-state birth certificates.”
Those interested in donating or volunteering can email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 321-430-7541.
Those who need the service should call the CHC (321-677-0245) to make an appointment with a case manager, as “walk-in” services for those without one are limited.