Clients served in 2018: 588
Clients served to date: 1946

If we’re so fortunate as to have a nice place to shower and access to a laundry machine, we all tend to put up a veneer in public which says, “I’m doing well. I have my ducks in a row. Things are on the up and up.”

One thing serving at IDignity teaches you pretty quickly is just how paper thin that veneer actually is. How often do our crisply ironed clothes and pomaded hair not match up with the job loss, family conflict, or depression we might be battling underneath?So when a beautiful woman of maybe 19 or 20 years old with a sparkling smile came to us, I braced myself for a story. Sure enough, her trauma was far more recent than any appearances would suggest, albeit with one thick wisp of hair a little too carefully guided down the one side of her face.Sure enough, she had been in and out of an abusive relationship with her ex-boyfriend for years. Each time he would cross the line, she would insist it was the last time he would ever see her only to be driven back into his house by that old malicious tag team: low wage employment and high rent.

It took sitting in an emergency room by herself this last time to resolve for good that this pattern needed to end, even if it meant living on the street. It was either that or risk her very life. She knew that getting law enforcement involved might invoke his permanent retaliatory rage, and she didn’t want to look over her shoulder forever. So this resolution of hers meant not even going back to collect her things, including all forms of identification, which would be critical if she were to seek the kind of employment that would allow her to live on her own.

She shared all of this with tears in her eyes as she wrapped up an hour long session with our Legal Counsel, Jim, and he softly assured her that we could work it out together. So charismatic was she, that it was easy to forget that this whole episode happened only weeks before, not years ago in some past life long overcome. She thanked us profusely and, I’m afraid to think with little exaggeration, added, “You’ve saved my life today.”

IDignity Seminole has no pretensions of solving all the problems in the world. We can only give our one small hand up along the sometimes overwhelming mountains that our people are trying to climb. But somewhere beneath the veneer, beneath the clothes and makeup, if you’ve ever felt hopeless and alone, like no one believes in you, and you’re out of options, then perhaps you know what immeasurable value one hand up can have. Certainly the courage and tenacity of clients like this beautiful young woman have had an immeasurable impact on me.

Jared Witt
Director – IDignity Seminole