A new effort to provide Goshen residents with cards that verify their identities and addresses will be launched in December by the Center for Healing & Hope.

The Goshen Resident ID card is designed to help everyone who resides within the city limits of Goshen, Ind. It will serve a variety of purposes, varying from affirming identification to obtaining benefits from local businesses.

While intended for everyone, the cards will be of particular help to people who are not able to get driver’s licenses or other forms of official identification. This includes immigrants as well as elderly, formerly incarcerated and homeless people.

Having a uniform way to confirm residents’ identities and addresses will be valuable for personnel from law enforcement, city services and schools as they interact with members of the community. The cards also may provide a way of confirming identity for purchasing prescriptions and handling money transactions. In addition, the task force working on this project expects to build additional value into the cards by inviting local businesses to offer benefits to card holders, such as discounts on products and services.

The effort is led by Elkhart County HOPE (Helping Our People Everywhere), a part of the Center for Healing & Hope. A task force of community leaders—representatives of businesses, not-for-profit agencies, civic organizations and churches—is organizing the project.

The Goshen Resident ID card is modeled after the successful South Bend Community Resident Card (SB ID). La Casa de Amistad in South Bend began offering the SB ID cards early in 2017. By the end of July they had issued almost 1,000 cards, a significantly greater number than anticipated. Other cities with municipal ID cards are New York City, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee and Oakland.

To get a Goshen Resident ID card, a person will need to provide several documents that confirm his or her identity and address. Staff will review the documents for authenticity before issuing a card. No identifying information about applicants will be maintained after the card is issued. The anticipated cost of a card is $25; discounts may be available for some situations.

Applications are taken only during scheduled appointments; call the Center for Healing & Hope, 574-534-4744 ext 201, to make an appointment. Two times in December during which people may apply are:

* Friday, December 1, 3–7 pm

* Friday, December 15, 3–7 pm

The location is the Center for Healing & Hope offices and clinic in the Plymouth United Church of Christ at 902 S. Main Street.

The Center for Healing & Hope is initiating this project as a way to create a greater sense of community within Goshen. Bryan Mierau, executive director of the Center for Healing & Hope, noted that “some residents are so fearful that they are not taking care of basic needs, such as getting prescriptions or visiting a doctor. Some are reluctant to take their children to school activities. If we can relieve some of this anxiety for our immigrant neighbors with this Goshen Resident  ID card, we will have made Goshen a much safer and more friendly home for everyone.”

“Goshen relies significantly on the labor of immigrants and on their educational and cultural contributions, especially from the Latino community,” Richard Aguirre, founder of the EC HOPE network, said. “It’s been very encouraging that so many people see the value of the Goshen Resident ID card and have endorsed this program and its purposes.” Aguirre, who has worked to develop a Goshen ID card since June 2016, is a member of the card task force and of the Center for Healing & Hope board of directors.

The task force believes that the Goshen Resident ID card can offer a greater measure of confidence to people who now are fearful or vulnerable because of recent developments with immigration policies. Dominique Chew, immigrant resource coordinator for the Center for Healing & Hope, expressed this goal of the task force’s work: “I’m excited to have a specific and concrete way to bring a sense of safety and security to folks in this in this community and a way for people to stand in solidarity with others.”

The task force developing the Goshen Resident ID card has received encouragement from city officials to proceed with their effort. City leaders, including some fire and law enforcement personnel, welcome the use of these cards, because they will have greater confidence in the identification of people whom they encounter. Card holders will have the confidence of knowing they can verify their identities, freeing them for greater interaction within the community.

“Over the past year, I’ve spoken to many undocumented immigrants who have established successful lives in Goshen and who simply want to continue living here and contributing to a diverse and welcoming city that was named the ‘Community of the Year’ by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce last week,” Aguirre said. “Immigrants have affirmed the need for a city identification card, and we’re glad to be able to provide a way for them and other vulnerable people to feel safer and more at home in Goshen.”

By mid-November, the following organizations have indicated their endorsement of the GRID card: City of Goshen, the Public Policy Committee of the Chamber of Commerce, Goshen Health, Goshen Public Library and Goshen College. JoJo’s Pretzels is the first businesses to announce a benefit; those showing a GRID card will get a 30% discount on their purchases.