While celebrating Independence Day, we also celebrate the American Dream. I would like to share with you the story of Dan Britt who moved from New York to Florida in 1999 to fulfill his dream.
His father had been a carpenter with good hands and an eye for precision. Dan inherited those qualities. Growing up, he often read Popular Mechanics and built his own toys. He wanted to be an aerospace engineer, and where better than Florida to make that American Dream come true?
Fast forward 10 years: Dan is attending college but living on the streets of Miami, using his schoolbooks as a bed. He had run out of money because of expensive medical issues, including extensive dental work to fix painful oral abscesses. It was either housing or health care. It’s a choice many Americans face, turning dreams into nightmares overnight.
So Dan gave up the room he had been renting. He remembers the moment vividly. It was on Thanksgiving Day, 2008.
Dan’s been without a home ever since, but he hasn’t lost his spirit or his dream. He’s still pursuing independence through education. He is preparing for calculus and physics tests this summer ahead of engineering classes this fall at the University of Central Florida, where he’ll study with students 30 years his junior.
He sleeps on a friend’s couch and pedals a bicycle to deliver Uber food orders. Dan knows that to get his dream job he’ll need to get an internship, which will require having a car and a license to drive that car. That’s where IDignity enters the story.
Dan lost his ID a few years ago. Then, in April, he learned about IDignity through Hope Helps, an Oviedo charity. The next day Dan was at an IDignity event, and the day after that he had his learner’s permit. His new Social Security card arrived in the mail a few weeks later. Now Dan’s friends are teaching him how to drive. Next, he’ll get his operator’s license and a car, giving him the freedom to make his dream come true.
This is what IDignity does. At an average cost of just $250 and four hours of volunteer time, we help our fellow Americans get the identification they need to move forward with their lives. Everyone deserves the opportunity to pursue the job they’ve felt drawn to since childhood.
Dan calls his journey “a dream deferred.” Now he’s closer to having his dream fulfilled.
Dan’s on his way in part thanks to your generosity and your belief that everyone deserves a chance. As Americans join to celebrate Independence Day, please consider making a contribution to help your fellow Central Floridians obtain their legal identification and hence access the opportunities available to them as American citizens.
Michael C. Dippy