How IDignity Uses Technology to Help Others
IDignity is one First Pres' strategic mission partners. Created to help the disadvantaged in Central Florida overcome the difficulties of obtaining personal identification, IDignity restores dignity and hope by providing identification.
Oscar* came to IDignity in October 2014 with an expired Florida driver license from 2012 (with no gold star) and his Social Security card. His story highlights the power of family traditions and faith. Born in Brooklyn in 1967, Oscar did not have his birth certificate. As most IDignity supporters know, birth certificates from New York City can be problematic as they have a specific list of required documents for obtaining or amending a birth certificate. Obtaining Oscar’s birth certificate was not a challenge. However, we were dismayed when it arrived because it listed his first name as Male. We encounter this regularly when a family had not yet decided on a name and did not amend the birth certificate when one was selected. IDignity often sees Baby Johnson, Female Johnson, etc., on birth certificates.
To amend his birth certificate, we needed early records from his childhood. Oscar is an only child, and his parents are deceased. He recently became homeless due to unemployment and was referred to IDignity by the H.O.P.E. Team. Census records, baptismal records, and school records are examples of the three required means of proof to amend a New York City birth certificate. However, only pre-1941 census records are public and free. Under certain conditions, later census records can be purchased, and once IDignity was able to track down Oscar’s address, we did order and pay $65 for the record.
The challenge was his home address. Oscar could not recall it, but he had vivid memories of his neighborhood, the cross streets and walking with his parents to attend Catholic mass just a couple of blocks from their quadruplex apartment. Jackie Dowd, IDignity’s General Counsel, loves using Google Maps and had the ingenious idea to look up the cross streets and take a virtual stroll to find Oscar’s childhood church. Jackie and Glenda Lenihan, who assists Jackie as an office volunteer, were delighted to first actually find the quadruplex, still standing just as Oscar described. After exploring various routes, they located the church and chatted with understanding staff who confirmed that they could provide Oscar’s baptismal record. Armed with his baptismal record and street address, we were then able to obtain the census record, verify his school and obtain records from them. This was all possible through combining Oscar’s early memories with newer mapping and networking technologies. You never know the value of the memories you make with your children!
*The name has been changed to protect the client.
IDIGNITY IS HIRING. Do you want to make a significant impact on improving our community while working with a dynamic organization? Are you skilled at encouraging others to join and invest in valuable missions that cause systemic change? If so, please review our job posting for Development Director and share with others! http://tinyurl.com/idignitydevdirector