ORLANDO, Fla. – It started as a mission to help the poor and homeless communities of Orlando. IDignity came to life in May of 2008 to assist those in need of crucial documentation like birth certificates, driver's licenses and other forms of ID.
"There was an unmet need in our community for U.S. citizens to be able to legally prove that they are U.S. citizens," IDignity Executive Director Michael Dippy said.
Having a government-issued ID is necessary to gain access to shelters, get help from social service programs, open a bank account and many other things that people do every day, that are made impossible without identification.
"I could show them where to get food and where to get health care, where to get housing, but I couldn't find anyone to assist individuals that didn't have identification, so they couldn't access such services. At that point, you can't just really walk away," said Dippy, who founded the non-profit organization 10 years ago alongside 19 others.
Dippy said having proper identification is called the "golden ticket" on the street for a reason.
"It's amazing once you give people that ticket, once you give people the opportunity; how quickly they act with it. How quickly they go out and find that job," said Dippy, adding that many have been without proper identification for years.
Susan Tedrow turned to iDignity after a home invasion left her with no proof of identity.
"I couldn't volunteer, I couldn't go to the doctor. 'No ID, you don't exist, you're not a person.' It was horrible. It makes you feel like nothing," said Tedrow.
After one year spent trying to regain her ID on her own, she said she got nowhere and turned to IDiginity.
"It doesn't matter if you're homeless or not, if you go somewhere and you don't have ID... 'Bye, out the door, we can't help you, we don't want to see you,'" Tedrow said.
For Rollins Robinson, not having his birth certificate became an issue when he wanted to renew his license. With the help of iDignity, it's been resolved.
"They do a great job of helping people." said Robinson.
The organization serves Orange, Volusia, Seminole and Osceola communities. For more information on how to obtain its services, visit idignity.org.