Despite pandemic, ID Ministry reaches 1,000-guest milestone

July 10, 2021

For over 20 years, ID Ministry has been helping people acquire social security cards, birth certificates and photo identification. They have now served over 1,000 of our neighbors.


ID Ministry volunteers meet at Foundry United Methodist Church, less than a mile from the White House in Washington D.C., to assist people in applying for and receiving such documents that are needed to obtain housing, employment, and even school enrollment. They provide a truly essential service, as there are few other places in the city to get assistance with these processes in one place, at no cost. 


ID Ministry’s name pays homage to our belief that all persons are created in God’s image, the imago dei. It is part of our common identity. 


“We work to honor the imago dei in each person by treating them with the respect we all deserve,” said Jackie Wright, Program Ministry Support Manager at Foundry. 


Unfortunately, the population that ID Ministry services is often ignored or treated poorly in other circumstances.


“The way our laws and standards are implemented create lost employment, education, and housing opportunities every day,” said Rev. Ben Roberts, Associate Pastor and Director of Social Justice Ministries at Foundry. “They devalue the Image of God in each of us.”


Possession of an ID can be the difference between supporting one’s family and remaining unemployed. IDs can be the difference between months in shelters and on the street, or the first night in your own home. 


“I've seen plenty of guests for whom having someone to fight alongside them and see them through to getting their documents is the difference between steps of independence, and thinking they don't want to take any more steps at all,” said Roberts.


Guests of ID Ministry often come to learn of the organization through their case workers or by word of mouth. They also have over 200 agencies referring people to Foundry for this service, including health care and mental health organizations, the D.C. government, the public library, and numerous others that work with those experiencing homelessness


“I wish people knew what a burdensome and time-consuming process getting your vital documents can be when there’s even just a single piece missing,” said Roberts. “I wish people knew how strong and persistent our guests and volunteers are in the face of constant barriers.”


Like everything else, the work of ID Ministry has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, a team of 40 volunteers served between 25-35 neighbors every Friday morning, and another five to 10 on the first and third Saturday of each month. 


In the midst of COVID, the team was forced to cut back a bit, pivoting to a hybrid model supported by about 15 volunteers. They’ve been holding between 20 and 25 phone appointments on Thursdays and Fridays, and receive an additional eight in-person appointments at Foundry on Fridays.

Over the past year, ID Ministry’s volunteers have spent many days — often in the heat or the cold — meeting clients outside on Foundy’s plaza so that they could continue to deliver assistance in a safe way. Their dedication brought the organization, despite the circumstances, to a milestone achievement — 1,000 neighbors served in obtaining vital documents. 


ID Ministry looks forward to once again welcoming more guests as COVID-related restrictions ease. If you’d like to support the work of ID Ministry, you can donate funds, volunteer, or join us in advocating for an equitable budget in the city.