On the 17th of August, Stephanie came into the office. She was quiet and shaky and had obviously been crying and was still teetering on the brink of tears upon sitting down at my desk. She needed to order her birth certificate in order to keep her food stamps and was born in California. This seemed easy enough as she had a California Drivers License so we could notarize her signature on the birth certificate application as required by California law. I kept glancing at her as I asked her the questions on the application and typed in the answers, she was clearly crying now, silent tears that just slid sadly down her cheeks. She repeatedly shook her head when I asked her if she wanted to talk. I handed her the tissue box and finished the application. I took her in to see the Chaplain so he could notarize her signature. He gently asked her why she was crying and she just shook her head. I took her back out to my desk and touched her arm and said to her ‘Are you sure you don’t want to talk? You’re in a safe spot here; we can talk if you want to.’ She said so softly I could hardly hear her, ‘I need my birth certificate fast or I’ll lose my food stamps, I don’t know what to do, I don’t belong here, I’m scared.’ She said this quickly and quietly as she walked out the door…
I followed her out of our door and actually walked along with her as she went outside, having finally gotten her to talk I didn’t want her to leave. She was frightened, she had never been homeless, she worried she smelled, she worried her clothes were dirty, she worried about how she would eat when her food stamps ran out and her birth certificate wasn’t here yet, moreover, she was just plain terrified to be in the zone. I pleaded with her to come back to the office with me. I had info on services and we could talk. To my surprise she followed me back! I handed her sheets of paper detailing the services on the campus and in the vicinity. I told her we had hygiene products, Andre house would launder her clothes and she could shower, I told her she could have 3 meals a day here and told her the times and places. I showed her the library and told her to sit and read every day until her birth certificate comes if she was that scared. The library in the day center is clean and cool and safe. I told her there were positive people in the zone and she should seek them out and surround herself with them. She left still crying and I worried about her. I have never seen someone so scared.
9/01/2009. Stephanie was on the list today. She was switching her California Drivers License to an Arizona Drivers license and I happened to call her name (not by accident, I wanted to talk to her). She walked taller, she wasn’t crying and she spoke with confidence as she sat down. She told me what she was there for… and then…… here’s the God thing my friends…. She laid an envelope on my desk, I recognized my handwriting and the envelope as being the self addressed stamped envelope we send with all applications for birth records. My eyes widened and I had to glance back to the screen to check my dates again. We mailed for her birth certificate on the 17th of August, today is September 1st. California birth certificates take anywhere from 4-8 weeks to arrive. I looked at her and said, ‘You got it today? That’s unheard of!!’ She said ‘I got it last week and already went to DES and my caseworker with it so they have copies, I’d like to store it here.’
Understand the miracle in this… Stephanie got her birth certificate in less than 8 business days from a county in California that normally takes 4-8 weeks. Stephanie came into our office a different woman a mere 2 weeks after I first met her. God is down here performing miracles every day. I’m blessed to be a part of it.