Community based ID program accepts first applicants

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va (CBS19 News) -- A local community group is working to connect Charlottesville and Albemarle County residents with an identification card. Organizers say the program that was once an idea is off to great a start.

The goal of community ID is to provide identification cards for those who are unable to obtain one from a government agency, such as the DMV because they lack the proper documents.

“The card isn't only to access different services like getting your kids in school social services, or health care," Russ Linden with Welcoming Greater Charlottesville said.

Linden helped get this idea off the ground.

“It's also something that says you're part of us. Everyone belongs in this community," Linden said.

Two local churches have supported the program since day one, New Beginnings Baptist Church and Hinton Avenue Methodist Church. Pastor Elizabeth Emery with New Beginnings Baptist Church said the first ID drive March was a successful start.

"It was wonderful, we had 75 people show up and we took care of them in two hours giving them all IDs but people who lacked the right documentation," Emery said.

The doors opened at 8:00 am, but they say some started lining up as early as 5:00 am. The organization says this shows how important an identification card is for many people.

Immigrants, the homeless, those with mental health issues, and people returning home from jail are benefiting from the program. Many of the applicants from the first drive were from El Salvador and Mexico.

“Some of them would like to get a DMV card but they do not have the documents. It's not everything, but it's a step to access services they have a right to," Linden said.

To secure an ID, applicants must show the documents they do have to verify who they are such as a visa, a utility bill, or a military ID, to name a few.

Linden says the organization’s goal is to have these ID’s in the wallets of all Charlottesville and Albemarle County residents, even those with a government-issued identification card.

“We hope this simulates a conversation about how open an inclusive are we to people who come from other countries, to people who do not look like us but they're here and a part of our community," Linden said.

Local agencies and merchants such as the Albemarle County Sheriff's Office, Albemarle County Police Department, the Charlottesville Police Department, and the Health Department support the goals of the program, according to the organization.

These cards are not issued through the government, which means that cannot be used to get a driver's license or to vote.

Those interested can sign up for the next ID drive which takes place the first Saturday of each month, starting May 4th.

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