Category Archives: Blog

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.

Dmitri’s Story

On the evening of December 24, 2018, I pulled up to the front yard of my parents’ house in a red Dodge pickup with a transmission barely shifting into first gear and a tank running on its last drop of gas.  Homeless, jobless, and dead broke, I was hours away from feeling the nightmarish withdrawal produced by years of abusing my body and soul with drugs and alcohol.

I’ve made this embarrassing walk before, to their front door, usually asking for food, clothes, a place to stay, or instant forgiveness.  This time was different. As she opened the door cautiously, my mom realized I had finally reached a moment of true and unreserved surrender.  Then she heard what any mother would want to hear from a child struggling with addiction: “The truck is out of gas, can you take me to a treatment center?”  It was my way of asking for help. She responded, “No, I’m in the middle of cooking Christmas dinner! But I’m sure your father will be happy to take you.”

I packed a small camouflage bag of clothes, then my dad drove me to a Detox Center.  After seven days in Detox, I turned myself over to the care of an intensive drug and alcohol treatment facility in Smyrna, DE.  I would spend the next two months there, healing physically and mentally.

When I was nearing completion, the counselor in treatment strongly suggested I continue my recovery at Friendship House.  I had a few options but I trusted his guidance, and after the interview process I knew this was the place that gave me the best chance to transition successfully back into society.

From day one, I knew there was something special about this place, about the people that worked here, and the volunteers that visited every day and showed me what true humility was.

As soon as a job opportunity came, I had a pair of those famous Bill Perkins steel toe boots to start working!  I was hired by a general contractor to assist in the remodeling of a family counseling center in downtown Wilmington.  Friendship House provided me with the tools to properly budget my finances. I started being more mindful of my spending so I would have more to put away for savings at the end of each week.

Everybody’s recovery has its peaks and valleys.  When doubt crept in of whether or not to continue my recovery in this program, I was blessed to receive honest advice.  Sometimes what others decide to do may seem appealing from an outside perspective, but you have to stick to what’s best for your recovery in the long run.  When I sustained a very serious knee injury in the summer of 2019, Friendship House provided me with everything I needed to achieve a successful recovery.

Most importantly, over time, my faith began to grow and life stopped becoming a drag.  It opened the doors to exciting experiences and new opportunities. My attitude started to become more positive.  I started to build authentic relationships with people inside and outside of the program. Eventually, I began to mend those relationships I broke in the past.  

I would have never thought in a million years I would be given the opportunity to share my experience to help others achieve sobriety and find a new way of life.  

A year ago I didn’t even think my family would open their door to see me on Christmas Eve.  This year I was invited! I was given the opportunity to say a prayer before dinner! The gratitude I have today for Friendship House is immeasurable.

Mary Jo’s Story

Hello, my name is Mary Jo. I am proud to say that I am a Graduate of the Friendship House Transitional Housing program. I came there in July 2018. I have struggled with the disease of addiction half of my life. I’m 45 years old and at 12 I had my first drink and by 16 I was an alcoholic. In the early part of my addiction, I attempted to make a life for myself by getting an education, buying a house, a car, and having children. By 32 I lost everything 3 times over. For the next 12 years I spiraled completely down the rabbit hole, also becoming addicted to heroin and crack. In the end I was left with nothing but myself being lonely, spiritually broken and homeless. I attempted once again detox and rehab at which time I was accepted into Friendship House. I am beyond grateful for this program and the 3 women I worked closely with Marcy, Mary Anne and Shawn. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart! I know that without you all, this program, and God, I’d still be lost, if not gone! You all helped me to fight and rebuild my foundation to become the person I’m supposed to be; the functioning member of society that I am today. I love you all, thank you.

Sincerely,
Mary Jo

A Message from Marcy Perkins

Dear Friends,
As of December 31, 2019, I will be stepping down as Director of Housing for Friendship House. I have been pondering this decision for several months and the timing seems propitious.

These past 25 years have been wonderful: at times heartbreaking; at times filled with joy. I have learned so much from the women; their courage in addressing their issues has inspired me to look at my own. Their deep spirituality has influenced my relationship with God.

My co-workers and the volunteers have been a source of support and inspiration: so many willing hearts and helping hands.

The gift that is Friendship House will continue to grace many lives, as it has graced mine. Thanks be to God who is so generous to all of us.

Marcy Perkins

From Kim Eppehimer,
I am so grateful for Marcy – as a mentor, colleague and, most important of all, as a dear friend. Her leadership to our housing program and to all of Friendship House will be truly
missed.

Marcy leaves us a legacy full of her love of God and of humanity, and her devotion to our residents is built from that love. The best way we can honor her legacy is to keep the housing program going; a program built by her love, generosity, and keen sensitivity and awareness of the needs of others.

Our Transitional Housing program is as strong as it has ever been because of Marcy and the team of exceptional people who will continue to lead our housing program as she retires.

I hope you will join me in thanking Marcy for her amazing gift of service to others. We will find a time in the spring to celebrate her ministry to Friendship House.

We love you, Marcy. Thank you for being you.
Kim Eppehimer,
Executive Director

A Gift That Keeps Giving
Friendship House started the Perkins Fund when Bill Perkins, our previous Executive Director for the first 30 years, stepped aside. This fund is used to honor the legacy he built. Now we are honored to add Marcy’s legacy to this fund. Gifts made to this fund are used to ensure their programs continue! You can use the link below or send a check with “Perkins fund” in the memo to PO Box 1517, Wilmington DE 19899.Thank you.
Donate to the Perkins Fund

Ronnie Krier: 1/17/53 – 11/3/19

Ronnie Krier
January 17, 1953 – November 3, 2019
The best tribute that can be given to Ronnie comes in the voices of those he has helped: “He kept it real. He told it like it is. He really cared.”
Ronnie was born in the Philadelphia area and moved to Delaware 16 years ago. He got sober with the help of Limen House, then got a part-time job with Friendship House. He worked at Gaudenzia Fresh Start for several years, then returned to work in the Friendship House Men’s Transitional Housing Program.
Ronnie was “old school” as they say in the recovery community. Some people were offended by his direct honesty; others loved it. He could be loud and irritating, but he had a tender heart. In his latter years, he was blessed by the birth of his son, Semaj, who was the light of his life. As he was fighting cancer, Ronnie was blessed to reconcile with his siblings and
his two older sons. These meetings gave him joy and peace.
Our lives have been changed by knowing Ronnie and, now, by losing him. As he would say, “Thanks, Buddy. Love ya.”
A Memorial Service will be held on December 4, 2019, 6:30 pm, at The Episcopal Church of Sts. Andrew and Matthew (719 N. Shipley Street).  All are Welcome.