We are so excited to announce a new Friendship House initiative aimed at helping local students! Our Clothing Bank has been collecting school uniforms to be donated to students across New Castle County. In Mid-October, we made the first school uniform delivery to Evan G. Shortlidge Academy. We provided them with 235 tops and 160 pants that will go directly to their students. This delivery was possible because of organizations, faith communities, and individuals who donated new or gently used polo shirts and khaki pants to our Clothing Bank. Our goal is to one day provide free school uniforms to students in need who attend public schools across New Castle County. FH is gearing up to deliver to more schools for the 2021-2022 school year. To help us in this initiative, donate new or gently used school uniforms to the FH Clothing Bank.
Category Archives: Clothing Bank
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.
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.”
It is difficult to be a teenager. Try to fit in, be a good friend, a good sibling, a good cousin, a good student and, as it so often happens, trying to do all these things while avoiding peer pressure and making poor choices. This story is so common among many young people, including Tayra.
Tayra, a bright student and high school basketball star wanted nothing more than to be loyal to all her friends and family. Falling prey to peer pressure was something she never dreamed would happen to her. She truly thought she was stronger and smarter than that. At 18 years old, she learned the difficult way peer pressure sneaks up on you and before you know it, you are making the worst choice of your life. In Tayra’s story, the wrong choice left her scared, scarred and incarcerated for 3 years.
We met Tayra at the beginning of 2018. It took only a few minutes in her interview at the Friendship House Clothing Bank for us to know there was a bright light hidden beneath the shame of her past choices. When she began working with us, she was reserved and scared. The thought of people judging her for her past was unsettling and embarrassing. Slowly, though, she began to see that we embraced the young women and she was not the same girl who made a mistake. She began to show her work skills and ethics. She began to trust us and was an active participant in our Empower Hour. She invested in herself, searching for ways to improve herself, rebuild her reputation and focus on a bright future. It was not easy. There were many tears when her background kept her from getting the job for which she had interviewed. But, she kept pushing through.
Tayra showed so much effort, dedication and promise in herself and to the job that we moved her to our senior sorter and extended her position from our 15-week training program to 22 weeks. (A great benefit to accepting no state or federal dollars.) We also sent her to be an office assistant once weekly in our administrative office. No surprise, she excelled in that environment as well.
It did not take much longer for another employer to see the same bright light and dedication we saw at the beginning of the year. Tayra’s hard work paid off when a local, popular hotel hired her for a great room service position. She is exceeding their expectations of performance and reliability. So much so she is currently in training to be a front desk customer service representative.
Today Tayra is still happily employed and looking into advancing her education. She has said her experience at the Friendship House Clothing Bank was a huge part in renewing her confidence, giving her hope, forgiving herself for her past choices and giving her the strength to take the next step to becoming successful. We have no doubt there is no stopping her from reaching any of her dreams and goals.
– Kathy Griffin-Graham (Clothing Bank Manager)