What 100 Philadelphia Women Can Do For Their City

January 10, 2017

100-women-combined-logoThey call themselves a “cool sisterhood”, and that moniker is an apt one. This group of 100 civic-minded women has donated nearly $60,000 to local organizations in Philly. And the BSM community is grateful to 100 Women Philadelphia for their contribution of $12,050, as we continue to grow our ID program. We anticipate helping at least 400 guests this year procure ID because of their generosity.

Like many of our services, helping guests gather documents that enable them to obtain state issued IDs started as a small pilot program last year. Our plan was to identify guests who use BSM’s mailing address, and who also may have lost their IDs or needed to get birth certificates and Social Security cards in order to begin the process of obtaining a Pennsylvania Identification Card. Since many of our guests who experience homelessness carry all their belongings with them as they navigate through the city, they often lose or have these documents stolen. Replacing them can be expensive, and for many the costs are beyond their reach.

While developing that pilot last year, we learned of many seemingly insurmountable challenges our guests face. For many of us, losing or having our licenses stolen can be a major inconvenience, but it is rarely catastrophic. We might have to take some time out of our day to go to the DMV, and pony up the $28.50 for a replacement card. Then if we need to replace our Social Security card, we would need to go to their offices, take a number and wait our turn. What if you didn’t have the $28.50 to get that PA ID? Since you need ID to get into the Social Security office in the first place, you would find yourself in quite a predicament.

100-women-checksThe refrain we heard often last year was, I need ID to get into the Social Security office, and I need my Social Security card to get ID. So, we worked to cut this Gordian Knot in a number of ways. In some cases our concierge/case managers accompanied our guests to the DMV and Social Security to help them with the bureaucracies there. When necessary, we have ordered birth certificates, and in more complicated cases we have referred guests to our legal partners, Drinker Biddle and the Homeless Advocacy Project . Our team does whatever it takes.

So what can a hundred cool sisters do to have an impact in Philly?
Quite a lot, as it turns out.


Written by Edd Conboy