Empowerment – IDignity and Spectrum News 13 Article

Empowerment – that’s just one of the many things that stem from IDignity’s services. Spectrum News 13 interviewed past IDignity client, Karelyn, to hear how her life changed after receiving her ID. Click HERE to watch the interview and see our Executive Director, Michael Dippy, share where IDignity’s new operational headquarters will be located!

Living without an ID: Overcoming barriers and how a nonprofit is expanding to address the need

ORLANDO, Fla. — You cannot open a bank account, fly on an airplane, get prescription medications, obtain housing or get proper healthcare without an ID.


What You Need To Know

  • According to Analysis from the Center for Democracy and Civic Engagement at the University of Maryland, nearly 21 million adult U.S. citizens do not have a current, non-expired driver’s license
    • IDignity is working to expand their efforts with plans to build their first brick-and-mortar facility in Orlando
  • A woman says her life took a 180-degree turn after overcoming the barriers of obtaining an ID

According to Analysis from the Center for Democracy and Civic Engagement at the University of Maryland, nearly 21 million adult U.S. citizens do not have a current, non-expired driver’s license.

That’s just under 9% of the U.S. citizen adult population.

It’s an issue the nonprofit IDignity is working to address in Central Florida. Officials there are working to expand their efforts with plans to build their first brick-and-mortar facility in Orlando.

A woman says her life took a 180-degree turn after overcoming the barriers of obtaining an ID.

Karelyn Rodriguez is a medical receptionist for AdventHealth Pediatrics. She says interacting with kids is a rewarding job.

“That’s why when they said pediatrics: I was like: ‘yay!’” she said.

But life wasn’t like that until recently as she recounts an eviction at her home in Oviedo after losing one of her jobs.

“When the sheriffs’ came to remove my documents from my apartment, I felt empty, I felt like a failure to my children, so I left the scene and when I went back I discovered that I no longer had my documents,” she said.

Many people can end up in similar situations as Rodriguez.

IDignity helps people overcome this barrier and access identification.

“And that really just empowers people to better their own life, and to get that job, and to get that housing and to get the proper health care that they need,” said Founding Executive Director Michael Dippy for IDignity.

After three years of experiencing homelessness, Rodriguez says she sought counseling for an addiction to drugs and alcohol. She obtained her ID, birth certificate and social security card through IDignity.

“I got my documents in two weeks. The next day, I applied for this job and I got hired, the next day,” she said.

Right now, the nonprofit is working towards having a stable place of operation.

IDignity currently assists people in a parking lot during drop-in hours. There are two building spaces they rent from a local church.

Spectrum News 13 toured the land that IDignity purchased with Dippy.

“I come here right now every couple of weeks to make sure everything is moving along,” he said.

Dippy says the new space will increase their capacity to serve clients like Rodriguez by an estimated 30%.

“This is where the main building is going to be, the operational headquarters,” he said.

It’ll have a unique vantage point from Interstate 4 East and West, as well as from Division Street.

“Also, just the marketing piece of so many people going: ‘What the heck is IDignity,’ and looking that up and going: ‘Oh my God, my sister needs that, or my neighbor needs that assistance, now I know where to send them,’” said Dippy.

The overall costs for this new building are $12 million.

IDignity has raised $9.6 million so far for it, including donations of $2.25 million from Orange County and $1 million from AdventHealth.

The agency still has $2.4 million to raise, but it plans to finish construction by the end of 2025.

As far as Rodriguez, she will soon become a first-time homeowner through Habitat for Humanity.

Transformed - Orlando News Room Article

IDignity clients often feel transformed once they receive their identification documents. They aren't just receiving a piece of paper or plastic but the ability to prove they are a member of society, to prove they exist. Orlando News Room Blog...

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