If you’ve ever forgotten your ID at home or lost it or had it stolen you know how badly you require it for any multitude of reasons, such as being able to drive, get in a club, purchase some items, get a job, rent a home, open a bank account, and in the US you even need it to apply for food stamps. This can be a real issue for some of the poor or homeless who do not have any legal identification. That’s where Jackie Dowd comes in, at least for those lucky enough to be in the Orlando, Florida area.
Dowd founded the nonprofit poverty and social justice firm Legal Advocacy at Work to handle cases of collections, evictions, family law, public benefits and employment for the poor and homeless. In 2006, at an event to help the homeless, she got together a group of lawyer friends and students and set up a table to provide legal advice. That day she said she found a line wrapped around the gym and out the door, full of people with legal questions about identification. She said the idea for IDignity was born. IDignity is an organization that helps people access documentation, Dowd has helped more than 21,000 people in Central Florida get birth certificates, marriage records, social security records, immigration records and other documents needed to get an ID in Florida.
It was that work, that dedication to helping those who truly needed it, that got Jackie something she never expected – an award of recognition. If you had asked her if people would nominate her for an award or show up to watch her receive one she would have laughed. But not only did some of those she helped along with some colleagues nominate Jackie for the Florida Bar Foundation’s Jane Elizabeth Curran Distinguished Service Award, more than 100 people showed up to celebrate her having received it. A well deserved honour for someone who has helped so many.
You might never have had to think about your ID, until you don’t have one it just seems so simple, but to those without? A person like Jackie Dowd is a life changer. You can find your Good News Story of the Day here, and learn more about her work and a few of the stories of those she has helped and how much work can go into getting one person their identity back. (It can take years in some cases!)
Story and Image from the Orlando Sentinel.