Category Archives: Blog

COVID-19 Update | March 13, 2020

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,
Kim Eppehimer
Executive Director

Meet our New Staff!

Danielle Mass is our new Program Worker with our Transitional Housing program. She is happy to be able to make a positive impact on those in recovery, looking to find community.

Kelly Tompkins is our newest Case Manager with our Empowerment Centers, working both Wilmington and Newark, where we work with people facing homelessness every day.

Timeeka Cropper is our new Senior Warehouse Assistant at the Friendship House Clothing Bank. She brings passion for our job training program and is a great asset to our team.

An Evening with FH

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.

A Resident’s Story: Dmitri

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.

– Dmitri

A Graduate’s Story: Mary Jo

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

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