The speaker at WCD’s monthly meeting on Monday, Dec. 11, 2017 was Christine Dragonette with the topic, “St. Francis Xavier’s Outreach Program: Facilitating Access to Identification Documents.” Ms. Dragonette, Director of Social Ministry, at St. Francis Xavier College Church on the Campus of St. Louis University described in detail the Document Assistance Program, also referred to as the Outreach Program, offered between the hours of 9 and 11 am on Tuesdays and Wednesdays most weeks of the year. Begun in 1993, Outreach provides one-on-one technical and financial assistance with obtaining Missouri state ID cards and birth certificates. This program, in its entirety, is unique to the Midwest.
Dragonette explained that many people, especially those living on the margins of society, do not have ID’s, but find that to obtain housing, many social services, a job, health care, or to enroll children in school, birth certificates and/or IDs are mandatory. In most cases it costs at least $15 to obtain the necessary documents (birth certificate) to get the ID. People who need this service often do not have $15 and if a family needs several for children entering school, it could be a non-starting situation. The Outreach program mitigates that expense for their clients and completes the paperwork, which can be onerous depending on a particular state’s requirements.
Christine emphasized that the Outreach program at College Church works exceptionally hard to avoid or absorb bureaucratic processes that can otherwise dehumanize a client. The program provides a comfortable waiting room with chairs for everyone and refreshments. Quick service is provided by any of the 30 trained volunteers who, as Dragonette mentioned, “make the program work.”
Last year alone, the Outreach program served nearly 3500 people, successfully providing identification cards and birth certificates.
But that is not all the Outreach program does at College Church. It provides to clients, typically on an emergent-need basis, a sack lunch, toiletries, basic clothing like undergarments, socks and gloves (always new) which have been donated to the program and occasionally food items for later use. But most of all, as Dragonette pointed out, they treat each one of their clients with the respect and dignity they deserve by working with them one-on-one, listening to their requests, and meeting their needs.
Submitted by Mark Kumming, WCD Member