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Gulfcoast Legal Services Birth Certificate Program provides paid internship

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Lauren Rosenthal, Stetson Homeless Advocacy Intern; Kathryn Hynes, BC Program attorney; Lora Vineberg, GLS Pam Wiener Dubrule InternThe Gulfcoast Legal Services Birth Certificate Program received donor funds from community supporters to begin a paid internship in the name of the program’s founder, Pamela Wiener Dubrule.

“Pam knew that obtaining shelter and benefits — food and access to medical care — was highly contingent on a person’s ability to present identification,” GLS Executive Director Tammy Greer said. “Without it, many are denied access to services.”

Since the program’s inception, demand has increased dramatically. With only one staff member on the project, GLS has sought assistance in alternative ways, one of which was to create a paid summer internship for a Stetson University’s College of Law student to work full-time with program attorney Kathryn Hynes. With help from GLS donors and the Stetson Office of Career and Professional Development, GLS found intern Lora Vineberg. Under supervision of the program attorney, the duties of the internship include conducting intake interviews with new clients during the walk-in clinic, researching legal documents and public records databanks throughout the U.S. and overseas, working with partner agencies, and compiling birth certificate applications, among other responsibilities.

“Those of us with access to our vital records tend to take for granted how much our social freedoms hinge on this access,” Vineberg said. “The clients I’ve met with through the Birth Certificate Program have been trapped in a vicious cycle, unable to secure societal essentials like employment and shelter because they are without the required identification.”

In addition to Vineberg’s paid internship, GLS has received volunteer assistance through Stetson’s Homeless Advocacy Externship, which provides students with 128 hours of hands on learning experience working with those experiencing homelessness. These students provide significant assistance to GLS in meeting the overwhelming need this program has seen in the community, Greer said.