When I was sixteen I passed my drivers test on the first try, mostly because my grandfather knew the officers giving the test and so they passed me by ONE point. Since that time (and its been enough years that I don't want to number them) I have never lacked for identification. I have always had "the proper ID" at my disposal. I have my original birth certificate and several copies, my social security card is tattered but intact, and my driver's license is always with me. I never have had to scramble to prove my identity.
As I stood handing out fliers about our Project Homeless Connect (PHC) event I realized again just how much of the little things in my life I take for granted. One of the focus areas of PHC is helping people get their identification papers. I spoke with almost 100 people today at the Open Door Food Kitchen, and I got question after question about how to get ID's.
"My papers were all stolen with everything else I had." "My child needs a social security card and a birth certificate and I can't afford the fees." "I lost my ID, I have no idea what happened to it." "My ID expired and I can't afford to get a new one." "I don't have a way to get to all these places I need to go to get all my papers."
So tomorrow, October 19th, 2010, we are helping people in our community get their Missouri Birth Certificates, verification of Social Security, and a photo ID. We have a grant for the Heartland Foundation and Learn and Serve America to help pay the fees. We have transportation to the license bureau office. We have volunteers who will help guide people through the process. I made a really cool flow chart about all the stuff you need and where to go. Even with all that in place...I know it will be a crazy and stressful day of trying to help people get all this done! But it's worth it. Operating with out any ID is very hard and in order to get the services they need, they need their IDs.
It is sad that something so simple, that you and I never give a second thought to, like having identification can be such a challenge for the homeless. Hopefully tomorrow we can make some progress in getting that fixed for the folks in our community.