110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Pat Andrews
posted Jan 28, 2014 - 1:14:54pm
IDignity helps people regain their lives and their dignity by restoring their identification. Without proper ID, people can't get services, Social Security benefits, a job or a place to live.
First Presbyterian Church of DeLand, at 724 N. Woodland Blvd., will host an IDignity event 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4, in conjunction with the Volusia-Flagler Coalition for Homeless.
It’s the third such event within the past six months, and the two previous sessions showed that the need for help securing ID is not dimming. More than 100 people attended in September, and more than 240 people for help in November.
"We were able to serve everyone. We didn't have to turn anyone away, which we always worry about," IDignity coordinator Patti Rausch said.
Assistance is on a first-come, first -served basis. People showed up at dawn to get in line for the November event.
Rausch became an IDignity volunteer more than three years ago, after an incident sparked her concern for local homeless people and their struggles for dignity.
She was driving on Woodland Boulevard on the north side of DeLand, when she saw a woman pushing a baby carriage who had fallen down in the road. The woman's two little dogs were tied to the carriage.
The woman was "literally in the middle of the road," and was trying to get up, with cars whizzing past.
Rausch called 911, then went back to the scene, and discovered the woman was chronically homeless, and had been arrested a number of times for not having ID, which is illegal, Rausch learned. The woman was arrested this day, too, due to the complaint of a nearby business, Rausch said.
Rausch made inquiries and found that lack of ID is a major problem for many people who are homeless. If they do get work, they can't even cash the check without ID.
"I got passionate about doing something to make a difference," Rausch said.
She's got involved with IDignity, a program that started in Orlando around six years ago when ministers to the homeless realized lack of identification was a major obstacle for their clients.
The program spread to DeLand and grew, with the help of Rausch and others. Around 75 volunteers from First Presbyterian and other churches, along with others who just want to help, worked the last couple of programs.
For more information about assistance or volunteering, call the Coalition for the Homeless at 386-279-0029 or visit the website www.idignity.org.
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