The Board of Directors of the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless presented the Advocate of the Year award to Eileen Kelly at the Annual Meeting on March 19. We also gave the David Westcott Volunteer of the Year award to Kimberly Fischer for her outstanding work last year. Eileen Kelly invited a number of St. Colman friends with her to the annual meeting to help celebrate her social justice award. Kelly helped start the Identification Collaborative in Cleveland nearly 10 years ago, and they have served thousands. Last year, Kelly did a great deal of work trying to get the Social Security Administration and the Bureau of Motor Vehicles in protecting access to identification for homeless people. This year the hard work begins of trying to raise enough funds to keep the project going.
Eileen Kelly has worked to continue funding the identification collaboration. The key to the success of the ID Collaborative has always been a focus on the advocacy piece associated with getting individual's identification. The discussions with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles when they are trying to establish residency for homeless people. There was a change in Social Security Administration procedures that made it more difficult to obtain a print out. The "print out" verifying that the individual has a social security number can be used to obtain a state ID which then allows the individual to receive new social security card. Kelly led a delegation to confront the Social Security Administration at a meeting convened by Senator Sherrod Brown. It seems like such a small inconvenience when a housed person loses their identification, but for a homeless person it can mean the ticket to housing, a job and the ability to vote.
We also gave an award to Kimberly Fischer, a recent student at Kent State University as the David Westcott Volunteer of the Year for 2013. Fischer came to NEOCH a couple of times a week to help and she developed a close relationship with some of the vendors. She helped vendors write their stories for the paper. Fischer also helped with setting up two NEOCH Facebook pages and improved the NEOCH website. While working on her health issues, she volunteered her time to help homeless people. Fischer was not able to attend the ceremony, but was so appreciative of the award. She made an impact on the agency and the staff and other volunteers who she worked with on various projects.
You can see more on the 2013 Award Winners in our annual report.
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