UMTV: Teens Opposing Poverty
Former prisoners sometimes struggle to reenter society because they lack something as simple as a photo ID. A dedicated group of teenage volunteers believes they can break this cycle and help ex-inmates make a fresh start. Heidi Robinson has the story.
(Locator: Winchester, Virginia)
Raymond Dove is about to be released from the Community Corrections Center in Winchester, Virginia. He's getting his paperwork in order.
But today's crucial meeting is not with his attorney&ellipsis;it's with a high school senior.
Theresa Bell: "Mr. Dove, this is Rachel."
Rachel is a member of Teens Opposing Poverty, a United Methodist youth service group with 1,000 members in the state of Virginia.
Raymond Dove, Inmate: "I haven't seen my birth certificate in twenty years."
Corrections official Theresa Bell says without a birth certificate and photo ID, former inmates are in a Catch-22.
Theresa Bell, Corrections Official: "Because you don't have your birth certificate and you don't have a picture ID, you can't get your social security card ... so very often they return. They commit crimes to survive."
Raymond Dove, Inmate: "I was never in jail until I was 40 ... and it was for driving without an ID."
(Rachel talking to Raymond) "Where were you born?" "Houston, Texas."
Teens Opposing Poverty assists with paperwork and fees, and sometimes arranges transportation to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Rachel Carson, Teens Opposing Poverty: "It's just circumstances, and in the blink of an eye I could be in their position."
Volunteers processes about 200 ID applications a year and raise about $3,000 to cover processing fees.
Christian Corcoran, Teens Opposing Poverty: "It's $12. You can probably scrounge that up within a month of change of buying fast food and such."
Joe White, Teens Opposing Poverty: "I've seen so many people when we go out for TOPs. They're just, I can see it in their eyes. They are just trying to live a better life."
Denise was once homeless. Now she volunteers with Teens Opposing Poverty because they changed her life.
Denise Miller, Volunteer, Teens Opposing Poverty: "The ID is what got me into the places that got me my own home. Having an ID is very important to an individual. It gave me life. Yes ma'am it did."
Teens Opposing Poverty helps to meet physical needs and assists individuals in becoming self-sufficient.
You can reach Teens Opposing Poverty at 540-955-6260.
Posted: June 16, 2010