All posts by Kristen Reisor

Friendship House COVID-19 Update 3/23

Uniting people facing homelessness with loving, supportive communities they can call home.

To our loving, supportive community:

I know many of you have kept us in your thoughts and prayers and are keeping posted on what’s happening by following us on social media. Thank you for your support.

As the Governor made an important decision to ask the state of Delaware to stop going to any nonessential location, Friendship House has had to wrestle with very difficult decisions. There are little to no options left for those who are experiencing homelessness. Almost every physical door has been closed to them. And, what pains me more, there are no known contingency plans for this group of deeply vulnerable people. They are invisible to so many.

Our staff are deeply dedicated to the Friendship House mission and unanimously have all agreed to do whatever is asked. There are not enough kind words for me to say about my colleagues. That said, we have made the following difficult decisions, keeping the safety of staff, volunteers and our guests as our priority:

We are asking no one come onsite to any location unless approved by Friendship House staff. We are still accepting dinner donations from those already signed up for meals at Epiphany House and Andrew’s Place. We will come meet you when you arrive and take the items ion your behalf. Please know, we do not want you to prepare or bring us a meal if it requires any additional challenge for you. Please contact Kristen Reisor at kristen.reisor@friendshiphousede.org for questions and concerns.
Our Clothing Bank is closed until it is safe to reopen. Please do not bring any donations or place any orders at this time.
We will keep very minimal hours at our Wilmington and Newark Empowerment centers, while we close our MOT (Middletown) center temporarily. There are no services we are able to provide except coffee, food when possible, and to be a community touch point. We hope to open in Wilmington again Sunday morning for coffee and breakfast to go.
Our administrative office is closed and our staff will work from home, checking email and phones message remotely for every location. Please know it could take more than 24 hours to return a message – your patience is deeply appreciated.

It is truly humbling to experience something being experienced worldwide. I wish knowing we were not in this alone made me feel better. However, knowing millions of people are significantly struggling makes my heart ache more. Please continue to keep our state, nation and world in your prayers.

I am monitoring my email regularly. Please feel free to email me with any questions or concerns: kim.eppehimer@friendshiphousede.org.

Your friend,

Kim Eppehimer
Executive Director
#AWayHome

Donate Now

#GiftCardChallenge

With all Delaware restaurants only serving take-out until further notice, many small businesses have a hard road ahead of them. Delaware State Chamber posted the #GiftCardChallenge to support local business during the coronavirus (See post). If you’re interested in supporting a local restaurant and which to donate a gift card to a local non-profit, please consider Friendship House. As many of you know, we have wonderful volunteers who bring dinner to both our women’s and men’s Transitional Houses each night. This meals means our residents can focus on their recovery without have to worry about preparing a meal at the end of the day. This meal also means residents are able to sit and eat in community together. Friendship House has began to take precautions when it comes to these dinners and instilled back up plans to insure these meals continue without putting volunteers, staff, and residents at risk. A gift card donation to a local restaurant would keep our volunteers at home, reducing their risk of exposure and support a local business. Gift cards can be emailed to info@friendshiphousede.org or mailed to PO Box 1517 Wilmington, DE 19899.

For more information about our Transitional Housing program, click here.

What is Friendship House doing about the coronavirus? Updated 3/20

Friendship House is taking the coronavirus very seriously. We seek to minimize the spread of the virus, practice social distancing, and are looking out for the best interest of our staff, volunteers, and clients. Our staff has implemented protocol and we’ve made significant modification to our programming to insure the health and safety of all. Friendship House will remain open as long as we possibly can. Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, our clients were already vulnerable with access to limited resources. While all our locations remain open, modifications have been made to our programs to reduce interaction and the number of individuals at each location.

We will continue to update this page as things change. This post was last updated as of 3/20.

Administrative Offices: Our office remains open to staff only, we are not allowing any visitors or volunteers to this location at this time. Please call (302-652-8133) or email (info@friendshiphousede.org) us with any questions or concerns you may have. Our helpline (302-482-2271) remains accessible.

Wilmington Empowerment Center: WEC remains open Mon – Fri 7:00 am – 2:30 pm for bathrooms, hand washing, and case management. We will limit people in the center to no more than 10 people at a time. We are asking that no volunteers visit this site until further notice. For more information please call (302) 652-8033.

Newark Empowerment Center: NEC remains open Mon – Fri 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm for bathrooms, hand washing, and case management. As the City of Newark has restricted the number of individuals together at a social gathering to 10, Friendship House is abiding by these regulations. We will have no more than 10 individuals in the center at a time including staff, volunteers, and clients. We will only accept volunteers to off set staff at this time. For more information please call (302) 544-0165.

Middletown Empowerment Center: MOT remains open Mon, Tue, Thur, Fri 9:00 am – 11:30 am for bathrooms, hand washing, and case management. We will limit people in the center to no more than 10 people at any time. For more information please call (302) 416-0982.

Clothing Bank: Clothing Bank remains open Mon – Thurs 7:00 am – 3:00 pm, they are still receiving orders and will attempt to fill orders as efficiently as possible. We are asking that all donations be dropped in the bin outside the warehouse. We are not accepting any volunteers at this location until further notice. If assistance is needed please call the clothing bank at (302) 654-1390. We ask that agencies pick up their orders at the door. 

Sunday Morning Breakfast: We are asking that no volunteers attend until further notice. SsAM will be open 7am-8am this Sunday for restroom use. Hardboiled eggs will be distributed by Friendship House staff.

Transitional Housing: No new residents are being accepted and no visitors until further notice. Meals will continue at both Andrew’s Place and Epiphany House. We are asking volunteers to drop the meals curb-side style. For more information about dropping off meals, please contact Kristen at kristen.reisor@friendshiphousede.org or call (302) 652-8133.

Winter Sanctuary: Ended last weekend. Thank you to all who served with us!

Coronavirus Update: 3/13

To our loving, supportive community:
I wanted to send a note to you all updating you on the status of Friendship House as our community is preparing for a possible outbreak of the coronavirus, or COVID-19.
The health, safety and well-being of our staff, clients, and volunteers remain our number one priority. This is difficult to manage at times because the needs and wants can vary greatly from person to person. Your patience with us as we continue to respond is greatly appreciated. Thank you.
All Friendship House locations continue to stay open. During times like these our services are needed more than ever. People we work with every day already struggle with limited resources. It pains us to see any additional barriers put in their way due to this virus. As employers may cut hours, child and family care needs increase at home, and the lack of safe, physical space for many to live and sleep continues to be an issue, we are here to do what we can to keep our community safe and loved.
We recognize we may not be able to continue everything we do; however, we will try to keep as much open as we are able. At every location, staff are wiping down anything and everything that people touch as frequently as possible. (I have personally never seen our operations quite so clean!) We are also practicing social distancing and discouraging large group gatherings.
You have already received countless emails and messages about good hygiene, avoiding proximity to people, and symptoms of the virus. We thought it might be important to be reminded of some other things:
Be kind : Not everyone who coughs, sniffles or is tired is sick. We are already entering allergy season, for example. Some people already have chronic concerns that affect their daily health.
Be thoughtful : Make appropriate decisions for you and those around you. Wash your hands constantly and thoroughly – you are the best defense for preventing yourself and others from getting sick (kind of makes you a super hero!)
Be courteous : Check on your loved ones, go the extra distance when someone else is in need and you are able to help. If you are sick or think you are sick, please stay clear of others, especially those at more risk of severe complications. Give if you can give, and take if you are in need.
Be patient : Most people are trying to do what’s best for themselves and others, assume good intentions and do not add to the panic.
Pray : These are trying times for us all and, as we know, God is with us.
Help us with funding: We anticipate the need for financial assistance to our community will increase in the coming months as financial burdens increase from the effects of this virus.
If you are an active volunteer, you should receive a message from us regarding what to expect and how to proceed. If you want more information or have not received these emails, please reach out to our Volunteer Coordinator at volunteer@friendshiphousede.org.
Your love and support is greatly appreciated. I am impressed with the patience, decision making, and creativity our community is using in response to this crisis. If we have learned anything from our ancestors, it is that we are an amazing species capable of amazing things. God did well in creating us. Trust we, too, will overcome this virus.
Please stay tuned via our Facebook page for updates and reach out to us with any concerns.
Thank you for the prayers, notes of well wishes, and concern for us all we have received. Your love is greatly felt.
Your friends always,
Executive Director

An Evening with Friendship House

On Thursday, February 6th, we held our first Evening with Friendship House fundraiser. Held at the Hagley Soda House in Wilmington and catered by Caffe Gelato, this event saw 100 attendees come out to support our organization. At this event, two different speakers, Timeeka Cropper and Silas Harrison, shared their stories of how Friendship House helped them overcome adversity. “Being raised by the streets and growing up in the system is not what I want you to remember,” Timeeka said of her journey. “I want you to remember the perfect picture. The perfect picture is this right here, all of you.” Timeeka came to Friendship House in June 2019 through our Women’s Job Training program, which operates out of our Clothing Bank. She graduated from this program and is now a full-time employee at our Clothing Bank. “The Friendship House Clothing Bank has helped me change my energy, accomplish my goals, and to understand my purpose,” Timeeka said. 

Silas then spoke about his journey from a displaced man who would shower in sprinklers before Sunday morning breakfast into a college student. “When I started out, I was living under a bridge. I was sober at that point,” Silas said. “I gave myself to the Lord. I heard about a church that had Sunday morning breakfast and I was like, ‘Why not go to a church Sunday morning breakfast?’” At our Sunday Breakfast, Silas connected with Friendship House staff, who helped enable Silas to take the GED. “Bill was like, ‘Did you pass?’” Silas recounted. “I was like, ‘Yeah.’ He was like, ‘Well, do you want to go to college?’ I said, ‘I would love to go to college.’” Silas is now a straight-A college student in his fourth year who has graduated from our Men’s Transitional Housing program. He is also a staff member of Friendship House working to help others through this program.

We also heard from our Executive Director, Kim Eppehimer, who shared how we are piloting a new model in our Transitional Housing program.  We are now able to offer the most vulnerable individuals more time to focus on recovery above all else, including seeking employment. This is thanks to funding from Highmark Delaware Blue Cross Blue Shield, the Longwood Foundation, and other organizations.

We extend our sincere gratitude to those who attended An Evening with Friendship House, supporting our mission to unite people with loving, supportive communities they can call home.