Category Archives: Blog

Covid-19 Update – Phase 1 Plan

A Message from our Board President:
 
Dear Friends,
 
I want to acknowledge with deep appreciation the food and monetary donations Friendship House has received from you our loving, supportive community. Your generosity not only provides much needed supplies and prayers but lifts the spirits of the staff. I also want to give a huge shout out to Kim and the amazing staff at Friendship House working daily on the front lines. I am in awe of their dedication, commitment and compassion for others.
The months ahead are still an unknown for all of us. I’m confident with our committed staff and your continued support Friendship House will find a new “normal” using creative ways to continue to be a way home and meet the changing needs of our community.
 
With gratitude,
Meg Aument
President of the Board
 
An Update from our Executive Director:
 
Every day since early March, we have asked ourselves: how do we respond to the needs of our community without putting our staff or guests at risk of COVID-19? As an immediate response to the pandemic, we limited access to every building and stopped some of our less essential programming. We quickly got creative on how to provide needed services. As the state of emergency continued, we continued with physical distancing, wearing masks onsite at all times, and washing our hands obsessively.
 
During this pandemic, Friendship House has been very fortunate to keep essential personnel with full pay. We have been very fortunate that you, our loving, supportive community, has lifted us in your giving and prayers. With support from the Delaware Community Foundation and the United Way of Delaware, we have housed over 80 people living on the street by placing them in hotels to safely quarantine. We have continued to be a beacon of light in our community, even through our gloved hands and masked faces.
As our state lifts bans and begins Phase 1 of its reopening plan, what does this mean for Friendship House?
 
We all miss their “normal” jobs, and yet we realize we have to look ahead and be safe for ourselves and for those we serve.
 
Here is a summary of our next steps.
 
In our Transitional Housing program we are creating new interview protocols, requirements, and expectations for incoming residents. We are writing a plan of action for those entering the program, as many of the partners we turn to for resources continue to discern how and when they reopen and start offering vital resources again. We continue to keep high levels of cleaning protocols, especially as residents graduate into different stages and move to different houses. At this time, we are not allowing volunteers on site. However, we are still happily accepting your dinner donations for the residents!
 
Our Empowerment Centers will continue to meet emergency needs including food, clothing, and personal hygiene. Until we can ensure proper hand washing stations, a controlled environment with physical distancing and mask use of our guests, we will continue to serve from outside our walls. We are actively working on mitigating these concerns in order to provide additional resources our guests need. We believe we will have a temporary Wilmington Center available soon and we will begin offering emergency services in Middletown. At this time we are still asking for no volunteers.
 
We know so many of you are diligently holding onto your no longer needed or wanted clothing for our Clothing Bank! Please, hang in there a little longer. We are planning a weekly donation day at our Clothing Bank starting in June. We are working out details to ensure you and our staff are safe during this process! In the meantime, we continue to get clothing out for emergency cases. Some of our most important needs are new socks and underwear for all ages.
 
The Weekly Sunday Breakfast will continue to be done as it is now – coffee and breakfast to go.
 
We miss sitting down with our friends and sharing stories with each other. We miss the ease in which familiar faces would walk into any one of our locations without hesitation to drop off a gift or to pick one up. In a world with proper testing and vaccinations, it is our hope and prayer we can get back to that level of open hospitality. It is, after all, what we do so well. In the meantime, we will make deeply thoughtful and prayerful decisions. The Board of Directors and I will continue to make decisions that include every employee’s voice, the rules enforced by the State, and the needs of our community.
 
Please, continue your prayers for us and our community. Things remain very difficult for those who are experiencing or facing homelessness. People continue to face incredible pain and sadness as COVID-19 takes lives. And, please, follow the State and CDC guidelines – if not for you, then for someone you love.
 
As a human race we have an incredible opportunity to do good all the time. COVID-19 doesn’t stop that. Instead, it just increases our chances. So, do good today. And in that, help us to find a way home.
 
Your friend,
 
Kim Eppehimer
Executive Director

How can you help?

Donate
A donation to Friendship House will make a difference now more than ever. With our community facing new challenges because of Covid-19, financial aid is needed to help New Castle County find a new “normal”.

Join the Walk
On June 12th and 13th, 22 Friendship House teams will be walking in the Virtual Highmark Walk. 100% of the proceeds from a Friendship House team go directly to us. Please consider registering!

The CARES Act and Nonprofits: What you need to know

The CARES law now gives $300 annual deduction for charitable giving (no itemization needed). Previously, individuals were only able to deduct contributions if they itemized deductions on their personal returns. As a result of the 2017 tax law changes, the number of individuals who did so dramatically declined. CARES will allow for this deduction regardless of whether they will be itemizing their deductions, but only for the 2020 tax year. For those that do still itemize, CARES provides an increase in the Adjusted Gross Income cap from 60% to 100%. On the corporate side, the cap is raised from the historical 10% to 25%.

For more information Click Here.

COVID-19 Update 4/10

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Friendship House has remained open to offer emergency assistance to our community. We are amazed how the numbers of those in need continue to increase. We are so grateful for the support of our community and we are especially grateful for your desire to help us serve. Even if you are not physically with us, you are helping by following the Governor’s orders by staying home and keeping physical distance when out. You are helping by keeping us and those we serve in your prayers.

We do have occasional needs for specific items. We are being careful on how and when we accept these for the safety of our staff and guests. Therefore, please only send in donations in response to our staff’s direct request. We will give a detailed list of current needs with drop off explanations to people who have offered their help.

One of the most important things you can do is offer monetary donations. Friendship House is committed to the well being of our staff and the needs of our community. We have not decreased the pay for any full time employee. In addition, we are getting requests daily for financial assistance and emergency shelter requests due to COVID-19. A record number of Delawareans have already submitted for unemployment. Many of those are on the brink of homelessness. Although the state is doing everything it can to avoid a financial crisis, it is inevitable that it will not be enough. This is where Friendship House’s ability to fill gaps is critical. We are needed by our neighbors. You can help. Please consider a donation to help us help those most in need.

Thank you for all you do for us!

Black vs. Timeeka

Timeeka is what my mother named me when I was born into this world. But by age 15, my nickname was BLACK when I entered the prison system. Growing up as a child I had everything I needed except my mother and father. Although I had loving caring grandparents, I always wanted attention and love from my biological parents. Growing up the oldest sibling was bitter sweet. I was in charge of the household while my grandparents worked long hours. It was sweet because I learned how to take care of my siblings and was able to put a smile on their faces even though we were all struggling. It was bitter because it meant I missed out on my teenage years. No school formals, no after school activities, and no hobbies because I was more focused on my siblings than myself.

I was considered an adult before my sweet 16 birthday and nothing was sweet about that year.

At the age of fifteen, I was sentenced to 90 days at Grace Cottage Facility for teenagers. I was the youngest in the building. I heard many different stories from the other teenagers and it made me want to be just like them even though it was criminal behavior. To be honest, I was more comfortable in the system than at home because I was able to be myself while incarcerated. I didn’t have any responsibilities for no one but myself and I found peace. Once released with no support system, I started shoplifting for myself and siblings. It gave me money in my pockets and I was able to support my siblings. We were no longer singled out or teased by others. We were no longer considered homeless. In 2009 I was sentenced to 3 years in prison for a shoplifting charge that turned into a robbery for using excessive force. You would think that after 3 years I would have learned from my past mistakes, but the system just helped me analyze more ways to get away with criminal behavior. Then, my grandmother passed away in 2012, 10 months after I was released. I had no Mom or Dad as support – just me, my siblings and a criminal background. I turned to the streets for money and support. January 1, 2017 I gave birth to stillborn twins. I became depressed, and emotionally scared. I started self-medicating myself with ecstasy pills just to be happy and less depressed but that did not help my inner spirits. In 2018 I was sentenced to 2 years for aggravated possession.

Meet Timeeka…

June 2019, I was sent to work release at the Hazel D. Plant Women’s Treatment Facility. Immediately I started working at the Friendship House Clothing Bank. I loved everything about the place. The way they helped others, the way they talked to me and most importantly I learned who I was really born to be. I can’t explain the energy in writing but let’s just say I felt the love, peace and support I never could find elsewhere. God works in mysterious ways. Whoever would have thought my last mistake would be my testimony! Today I am part of the Friendship House family. I am now a full time employee at the Clothing Bank where I help women each day accomplish their short and long term goals. I’m now a consistent key player in my  brother’s life and school activities. I’m no longer taking risks to provide for myself and siblings, instead I am slowly trusting the process and allowing myself to help others step closer to their goal, as well as mine. I am happy and at peace in my life right now and I thank God and the Friendship House!

It’s not that I didn’t want to change, each time I was released from prison, I didn’t have the support system to change.

The Friendship House was my support system this go round and look at me now! Friendship House has played a major part in my change and in my journey. I am forever grateful for Ms. Cheryl, Ms. Kim and Ms. Robin. They saw the eager in me and allowed me to bring it into reality. My advice is “be patient with yourself and love yourself unconditionally regardless of your struggle.”

Yours truly,
Timeeka

Dear Friends,

Our mission is simple: unite people facing homelessness with loving, supportive communities they can call home. How do you do that in a time when we are expected to isolate ourselves? How do we connect someone living in a car to a job, a stable environment to live in, and a supportive community when people are losing jobs? Our environment is deeply unstable and resources are scarce.

These questions bring me back to how we, Friendship House, define community.

First, a community is wherever you call home. For many, home right now is your physical space, and those isolated in that space with you. For others, their home is our empowerment center – opened for sparse hours at a time to ensure our friends know they can come home. Maybe, though, home has expanded to be your neighborhood streets – still a space you may be confined to, but a space you may not have seen as often as you do now.

Community is how we respond to each other. I have seen hundreds of social media posts where people are offering to buy groceries or deliver medicines for people unable to get out. Others are supporting nonprofits and small businesses. I have seen and felt countless gestures of love and have witnessed support and acceptance.

Community is also uniting. It’s coming together as a collective to do the right thing for each other and for the larger group. Friendship House has been involved with the uniting of organizations of various types, coming together to protect and serve each other, including ensuring something as simple as access to public bathrooms for our most vulnerable, homeless population. Our community has grown to include the world as we unite on a common front battling such a horrendous and scary virus, sharing what works and what does not.

This pandemic is teaching us our community is the collective human race – from China, to Italy, to the United States, we are a united, loving, supportive front that will learn, adjust, and respond so the needs of the community are met. And we do this because we love. We love each other, we love our planet, and we love God. Together, that love is greater than anything else we can imagine. That is community.

Your friend,

Kim Eppehimer

Executive Director

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