I first met James in June of 2009. A very nice, polite young man of 29. He requested assistance in obtaining his California birth certificate, unfortunately we couldn't help him at that time. He had no photo identification to prove identity. In doing his intake interview I thought I hit pay dirt with his 4 years of service in the Army National Guard service, only to find out the Army National Guard is not considered military per se... no DD-214 available in lieu of a birth record there. Dead end. Family? No Ma'am. Another dead end.

I found myself unable to shake James from my thoughts. Here was an educated man (college!) who because of some wanderlust and no idea of how hard it would be to replace his identification ended up on the streets of Phoenix, Arizona. He was so polite...he remained unshaken at every downturn. He smiled and said, 'Ok, thank you anyways.'

Here is the unsettling thing about James having to live on the street. He receives social security. He cannot, however, rent a room..let alone an apartment.. without identification. He is forced to pay for, in cash..when he can...cheap rundown hotel rooms in downtown Phoenix that do not ask for ID.

Finally, by the good grace of God, we were able to verify and vouch for James' identity and notarize a birth record application. As I was pulling up the application online for Los Angeles County, James mentions he legally changed his name in 2008. I sigh and wonder if the hurdles will ever lessen.

Back to square one.. I send for a certified copy of the name change from Seattle, Washington. Without this, we cannot prove that Trever (birth name) is James and ultimately our hoped for result from all this hard work is to get James an Arizona identification card.

Very quickly James receives his court documents proving his name change. Wonderful!! The first actual document with Jame's name on it!! He is a person after all!! We sit down and finally fill out the Los Angeles County birth certificate application.

Today, 10/29/09, James is sitting out front of the office waiting for us to start the list. He received his birth certificate and now, with his bank card, his name change document and his newly acquired birth certificate could go and get his Arizona Identification Card. He can now apply for housing, (hooray!), and employment (yippee)!!

As well, we were able to send for the amendment to James' birth certificate reflecting his name change. James has agreed to allow us to store his documents here. Should James's wanderlust strike him again, he need never worry about his documents. He can call and answer some security questions and we will mail them to him where ever he is.

I am so happy to see James have a chance but often wonder... how many more James's are out there?? How many more people fall through the cracks because of the situations mentioned within this blog??