Darcia is not a typical Advocate. Once a week she volunteers her time through CEF’s Orange Community Hub to help Members establish or reestablish identification and documentation. This work of obtaining photos IDs, birth certificates, and social security cards can become very complex, and requires the time of someone like Darcia who can offer her dedication and deep understanding of all different factors at play!
What is the role of documentation?
Documentation is the bedrock or the foundation of life’s needs in our society. It is fundamental to securing housing and employment. It is not a barrier to—as much as it is essential.
How has this work affected your views on poverty?
I always thought of myself as someone who thinks about others, but this work makes me feel the weight and enormity of it all, how overwhelming it must be. We as individuals often live in our own space with our own worries, and then you have people with such different—more vital concerns
What have you learned about the systems that provide and sometimes complicate the process of securing identification?
I have found that people really do want to be helpful for the most part, but there are a lot of rules. Sometimes it can be very challenging when people are not moving forward with the process or it is simply taking forever. One birth certificate was weeks overdue. I called many times and they consistently told me they were processing it, but a week later there would be no progress. The Member stopped coming as a result, so I’m not sure what happened with that case.
How did you get involved?
I was previously involved with Love Chapel Hill, an action-orientated, church-based organization whose mission is to help the homeless within our community. And then I think I met Jon or Maggie(CEF’s Co-founders) at Starbucks and they told me about CEF.
Ultimately, I saw the need. I had friends who were already coming to me asking if I could help them procure documentation for others. I approached Maggie or Jon and said “what if I came in for a few hours a week and helped members with this sort of thing,” and that is exactly what ended up happening!
What is the hardest case you have worked on?
Often times I am asked to establish ID for individuals who need to keep their whereabouts confidential. My concern has been that an individual trying to get an ID would end up on the public record, and risk them being found. Usually, I tell the individuals that this is a risk that cannot be taken in their situation and that the best course of action is to talk to the attorney general or someone in the state department.
What has been your most inspirational case?
I once had a member that was so persistent in asking me, ‘when am I gonna get it, when am I gonna get it’ because he urgently needed it for a job application. He was so persistent that when I saw him on Columbia Street, he came up to me to tell me he still had not received his ID. At that very moment, I put my stuff down and called up vital records right then and there. He got his ID not long after.