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How Hard is it to get an i.d.?

marate's story

Gigi Nicholas

Sometimes the barrier between a person and opportunity is as thin as a piece of paper but as impenetrable as a brick wall.


That was the case for Marate Richardson, a young person who has been working with Outreach Case Worker, Devin Miller. At age 15, Marate was on probation, and his probation officer insisted that he find a job. Marate was able to find work, but when he had to provide proof of his identity, he ran into a major problem.


The problem started when Marate, now 19, was born. His father’s name was put on his birth certificate, but his mother’s name was put on his Social Security card. He and his mother made repeated visits to the Health Department and the Social Security office to try and correct the error but made no headway. Marate was able to obtain temporary employment at first, but he couldn’t get a permanent position without his identification being in order. He was working in a warehouse and impressed his supervisor so much that his employer wanted to hire him for a permanent position at $16/hour. Marate was devastated that he could not get the job because he lacked a piece of paper.


Many people would have given up at that point, but Marate was determined to find a way forward. He turned to Outreach where he says, “They helped me in everything. There were times when I didn’t have food, didn’t have clothes – they helped me with all of that.” Marate and his case workers built up a relationship of trust, and soon they began working on getting Marate’s identification in order. They ran into the same roadblocks that Marate and his mother had encountered: one office would refer them to the other, and no one seemed to be able to help. They turned to Outreach partners at Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic, who provided a new way to approach the problem, which led to a breakthrough. Marate was able to get a new birth certificate, this time with his mother’s last name. There were still a number of hoops to jump through, but after trips to the Health Department, the hospital where he was born, the Social Security office, and the BMV, Marate finally has his identification. He said he was “ecstatic” when he got his cards. “It’s like I’m a new me,” beamed Marate. “I’m having to get used to my new last name. I always went by my father’s last name, and now I have to keep correcting myself!” Marate now plans to look for work as a forklift operator in a warehouse.


When asked what advice he would give to other young people in need of help, Marate heartily recommended that they contact Outreach. “It doesn’t happen overnight. You have to put the work in yourself, you have to be persistent, and you have to let them (the people at Outreach) know what you need. But if you trust them to help you, they will.” Devin stressed the importance of relationships in resolving Marate’s identification issue. “At every step of the way, relationships made a difference. Marate and I developed a bond where he trusted that I was going to stick with him until this problem was solved. Our relationship with Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic led to the new approach we needed. And the relationships we built with the staff at the different offices we visited really helped. When people are willing to work together to fix something, they can make anything happen.”

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