Wednesday, February 27, 2019

IDignity Orientation

I went to an IDignity event at The Salvation Army Gym (440 W. Colonial Dr., Orlando, FL 32804) which is near the construction for the new Creative Village. These events happen every Third Thursday of each month. Volunteers had to arrive by 7am. I tried to get there at that time, but the parking lots were full so I parked several blocks away in Parramore and walked.

There was a line outside the Salvation Army of people waiting to get in to obtain identification. On man had set up outside at 4am to be ready when the doors opened. He would be the first to go through the process of getting his ID. Service is first-come, first-served.

I asked a volunteer where to find the volunteer entrance. Ben Jimenez the creative media specialist, was my point person, helping me get oriented. Michael Dippy, the Executive Director, shook my hand and thanked me for helping tell their story. When I arrived inside, volunteers were getting their orientation. Many volunteers had returned time and time again and others were new to the process. A blue curtain separated the gym into two halves. In the first area, volunteers greet patrons, giving them a numbered card that is the patron's guide through the event. Danielle Landaal, the program manager, explained how the day would proceed with people first entering at 8:30am to 11am. Intake would end when maximum capacity was reached.

Put simply, IDignity restores dignity and hope by providing identification. It was created to help the disadvantaged in Central Florida through the complex steps of getting personal identification. Documents like birth certificates, Florida ID cards, and Social Security cards are essential for anyone to fully take part in society.

Every person's story is unique. I was told about a man who was visiting Orlando as a tourist and he was robbed. He was stranded here living for a time at the airport unable to fly home. Getting his identity back meant he could get his life back. An ID the basic building block needed to get any job, a place to live and to become a contributing member of society.

After this orientation meeting, the volunteers splintered off into smaller groups. Some volunteers would be helping patrons at the intake station.  People could obtain a birth certificate on site, get a Florida ID or driver's License on site, get assistance from Social Security or the Department of Veterans affairs, get legal counsel or ask about health advice. What is amazing is that all these social services have agreed to come together under one roof once a month, thus simplifying the process.

The room was a buzz and the doors opened allowing the first people in for assistance...

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