IDignity was created 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. These documents are essential to fully participate in our current day society. The need for such a program was recognized by members of five downtown churches who were unable to find a resource that provided such a service. This group developed a viable solution after meeting for a six month period of exhaustive research and interviews. A significant part of this solution was to expand the process that was developed at Project Homeless Connect (PHC), an annual service fair which utilizes various agencies working together symbiotically. The agencies that IDignity events host are: the Florida Division of Drivers License, Orange County Health Department (birth certificates), Veterans Affairs, Social Security Administration, legal counsel and others. IDignity provides these services more often and also incorporates the particularly difficult task of obtaining out-of-state birth certificates.
The overwhelming demand for these services at the PHC events had shown that more needed to be done. IDignity’s monthly events provided a viable solution. The acquiring of identification continues to become more difficult as stricter regulations are regularly being implemented for Homeland Security. Since May of 2008 IDignity has hosted monthly events at the Orlando Union Rescue Mission in downtown Orlando. Each event provides service to about 225 clients and often has to turn others away due to capacity and funding limitations. Clients are individually welcomed to the event and treated with respect and compassion throughout the process. In order to implement this program, it requires the assistance of nearly 100 dedicated volunteers and the professional staff of the various agencies. Volunteers will serve in a wide variety of roles including: introducing the process to clients, filling out forms for clients, assisting agencies or shepherding clients through the process. Interestingly, most of the volunteers leave these events feeling that they have been served themselves and regularly return with a desire to do more. Although each client’s case is unique, on average it takes about four hours of volunteer time and $125 to assist an individual in obtaining their essential identification documents. IDignity depends on the generous investment of time and resources by the local community in order to fulfill its crucial mission of restoring dignity and hope by providing identification.
The documents that IDignity provides are required to apply for employment or school, obtain access to most shelters, vote, seek help from many social service programs, open a bank account or cash a check, secure housing or overcome many other obstacles to becoming self-sufficient. IDignity is a program that has proven to be very organized and more successful than anyone’s expectations. The demand for these services has yet to ebb and it appears that it is likely to increase during these difficult economic times. IDignity has expanded to hosting events in Seminole, Volusia and Brevard Counties. In addition, IDignity is in formal discussions with the Orange County Corrections Department to host events within the jail. We appreciate any support that you can provide through your service, your resources and your prayers.