Williamsburg's Homeless & Indigent

P.O. Box 366, Lightfoot, VA 23090
Office: 757-561-3255
"Assisting people in re-gaining hope and a better way of life."

Friday, March 21, 2003

What Photo I.D.? I Told You, I'm Homeless
In the past 2 weeks, I have heard several stories from people about the lack of help they had been given (or should I say, not given) by United Way. Unfortunately, I have to admit, I didn't believe them, so I had to find out for myself. Now, basically each person's reason for being turned down was different, but the common denominator was the fact they were Homeless.
So I dial the number that is given out by information, media, brochures so forth. A lady told me I needed to call the 'other number' for assistance. OK, so if I was truly Homeless, this first attempt would have deterred me because that one phone call might have cost me my last .50 cents. I dialed the number at 9:15 this morning, (I figured they would be open by that point.) I got a recorded message that the office wasn't open at this time, but their hours are 9-5. This now would have cost me too much to have to call back, AGAIN (if I was Homeless.) Twenty minutes later I called back and finally received a person on the other end. I began asking her about housing assisting, food and clothes (yesterday I had called F.I.S.H. for clothes and was told I had to go through United Way.) I soon learned that United Way does not handle housing, but I could call Salvation Army or the Homeless Intervention Program in Williamsburg (whose waiting list is so long that they put the program on hold.) Salvation Army's waiting list is 3+ months. The lady asked me if she could do an 'intake' interview for the food and clothing. "How long will that take cuz I ain't got long?" I asked. "Not long." Over twenty minutes later, I found out they couldn't help me.
Here's how it went:
UW: Can you come by today for clothes and food?
CM (my friend who is homeless; those who know her would understand why): No, but I can come this afternoon.
UW: How are you going to get here? Do you have a car?
CM:NO, but maybe I can get somebody to bring me.
UW:Let me get your name, address, birthdate and social security number.
CM: Cathy Morrison, 4, 11, 1967 ummm social security....ummmm
UW:What about your address
CM: Mam I don't have one.
UW:Where are you living?
CM: I told you I am Homeless. I stay where I can find a way to.
UW:So where are you staying tonight? Where are you now.
CM: I met a lady who let me come and work for her today for some money. Maybe I will get a room tonight with it. But I can see if she will bring me this afternoon for food.
UW:I'm sorry but we don't like to distribute after 3:00.
CM: OK I can come tomorrow.
UW:No we aren't open tomorrow. We are only open M-F.
CM: So what about people who are hungry on the weekend? OK I can see if I work next week for her, if I can get her to bring me.
UW:So what are you going to do over the weekend and tonight about food?
CM: There is a couple of Churches that give out food. I can go to the one at the theater.
UW:OK so when you come next week, bring your photo ID.
CM: Photo ID, I don't have one of those. Mam I said I was Homeless. How can I get one of those?
UW:You don't have a DL? OK go to the DMV with your birth certificate...
CM: Mam, I don't have a DL, I don't have a car, I don't drive, I can't go to the DMV because of these reasons, but I don't have any money and I don't have my birth certificate with me.
UW:I'm sorry, I don't know what we can do.
CM: I hope God recognizes you when you go before Him, because I know you won't have a photo ID with you then.

None of this makes sense. Again, we go back to questions of: when did a Homeless person have good credit, walk around with their birth certificate, or have a permanent address? I know I am not an agency, but now I would have to say this is a ministry, because it seems more clear that the Homeless really don't have anyone. But, I would never turn away anyone who needs something to eat because they don't have an ID. Not to say this was the problem with all the people who told me lately that they couldn't get help from United Way, because most of it came back to the fact they didn't have an address. This is just another reason for a shelter.
James 2:14-18 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.


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