Category Archives: Clothing Bank

Diamond’s Story

Diamond came to our Clothing Bank Creating Excellent Outcomes (CEO) Training Program from Hazel D. Plant Women’s Treatment Facility’s Work Release Program in May of 2022. At 40 years of age, she has been incarcerated for more than half of her adult life. Most recently she has completed a 10-year sentence. When she started at the Clothing Bank, she expressed a desire to make a change in her life and not repeat her past mistakes. She has set goals of obtaining a full-time position and renting a place of her own. She has proven to be a hard worker, greeting everyone with a smile, and has shown a lot of potential. As we counted down the days until her release from incarceration in June, we braced ourselves for the hardship we knew she was about to face as many women before Diamond have experienced.

The four weeks since Diamond’s release have been filled with challenges. Her only option right now is to live with her family in an apartment in Wilmington, the same area that exposed her to the people, places, and things that started her cycle of incarceration. She wants to save money to get a place of her own, but right now she works two jobs simply to pay her share of the rent. She works at the Clothing Bank during the day, and at a fast-food restaurant most evenings. Diamond also has to attend Probation, TASC, and After-Care appointments. These obligations are scheduled on two different days, in three different places weekly.

After 10 years of incarceration, Diamond is learning how to use a cell phone and ‘simple’ things like setting an alarm and figuring out the bus schedule. Our staff are assisting her with applying for food stamps and Medicaid, finding a primary care doctor, and arranging mental health services. For the past 10 years, these resources were provided through her sentence. When she was released from incarceration she was given a supply of medication to address her long-term mental health condition which unfortunately ran out before she could get approved for Medicaid. She was not able to get an appointment with a primary care doctor for a month. “I was stuck in a situation where I couldn’t get my mental health meds, so I eventually fell into a depression”, she says. After a week without medication, Diamond ended up in the E.R. This eventually led to admission to a mental health crisis center. She was stabilized after a few days and returned to work.

Diamond’s physical, mental, and financial well-being have all suffered. Despite her best attempts, she keeps missing days from work at the Clothing Bank. Diamond says, “The Clothing Bank staff are very patient with me and my situation. If I worked somewhere else, I probably would be fired. It’s been a rough road for me to be successful after incarceration.” She is trying very hard to keep a positive outlook, however, it’s clear she is overwhelmed and exhausted.

Diamond’s story is not unusual. The details vary from woman to woman, but the general theme remains the same: without a loving, supportive community and a stable place to live, women released from incarceration with goals and dreams to turn over a new leaf too often struggle with the re-entry process. Their past, home life, and financial barriers make this change feel impossible and their hope and drive are quickly lost.

FH is committed to filling the gaps for women like Diamond. To learn more about our plan to provide programming and additional housing for women like Diamond, please read about our New Housing Program highlight.

Creating Excellent Outcomes (CEO) Training Program

Our Clothing Bank’s Creating Excellent Outcomes (CEO) Training Program provides a wage-paying opportunity, a life skills and job training program, and a loving, supportive community for women committed to making a positive change in their lives. We employ women from our Transitional Housing Program or the Hazel D. Plant Women’s Treatment Facility Work Release Program. Our program is woman-centered at its core, with a focus on the unique needs, concerns, and lived experiences of the participants. Women can stay in our program for as long as they need; the average is about 4-5 months. The goal of the program is for the women to find meaningful, long-term employment that will allow them to remain self-sufficient.

The women in our program from the Hazel D. Plant Women’s Treatment Facility often transition from Baylor Women’s Correctional Institute; these facilities are on the same campus and the Work Release is the final stage of their sentence. The Work Release places women in our CEO program and they remain in our program during their release from incarceration. There are mountains of obstacles and barriers that often make the transition after release very challenging.

Please read Diamond’s story for one woman’s experience after incarceration and our New Housing Program highlight to learn more about our plan to further help women like Diamond.

2,500 Uniform Items Down, Many More To Go!

The Friendship House Clothing Bank School Uniform Initiative was developed out of an identified need in our community as the many impacts of the pandemic began to surface. One of these impacts is the barrier for families to provide their children with the necessary items to be successful in the classroom due to their financial situation. The consequences can be significant when they show up to school out of dress code. In some instances they can miss class time or face disciplinary actions to rectify the issue. We are working hard to ensure that students have access to proper dress code items, like school uniforms, regardless of their financial situation. No child should be singled out because they do not have access to a basic need.

There are students in Delaware public schools who are struggling to obtain the required dress code uniform: solid color polo shirt and khaki/navy pant. In collaboration with school district personnel, principals, resource counselors, and other administrators we are working to meet the needs of the community. For the upcoming school year, we will be providing 2,000 students, throughout 5 targeted schools in the Red Clay Consolidated School District, with uniform items.

One of our participating schools for the 2021-2022 school year is Emaela P. Warner Elementary School. They are a Title I Community School within the City of Wilmington, serving a large population of students and families on the North and West sides of Wilmington. Jolisa Baker, Site Coordinator for Warner Elementary, explained that, “For Warner, the [School] Uniform Initiative will help several families send their children to school in their uniform at the beginning of the year and throughout the year.”

“Warner Elementary is very grateful for the Friendship House School Uniform Initiative and [we] look forward to participating every year!” – Jolisa Baker

Because of you, we have 2,500 uniform items in our inventory! These items will be distributed to the schools at the end of August. But this is just the start! Each year our initiative will grow, and we will continue expanding our reach until we are able to ensure every student in Delaware has a school uniform. Our vision is large, but we are committed to do what it takes; your loving support is what will help us reach this goal.

For more information and ways to help, please click here.

School Uniform Initiative

In fall 2020, we launched a uniform initiative providing 400 uniform items to Evan G. Shortlidge Academy. Our goal is to expand this effort so no student in New Castle County will have to worry about having adequate or clean uniforms to wear to school. In fall 2021, we plan to redistribute 10,000 uniform items to 2,000 children.
 

We need your help! If your club, organization, company, faith community, or family and friends are looking to get involved in your community, please consider hosting a school uniform drive this spring or summer! Contact Cassandra Bryant for your uniform drive promotion kit. For more information about this initiative please click here.

The uniform items we are looking for include; clean new or gently used white/navy/light blue polos and khaki/navy pants & skirts, youth sizes; 3T-20. Donations can be brought in tied plastic bags to our Clothing Bank, located at 1603 Jessup St. Wilmington, DE 19802. Please label the bag with ‘uniform’. The Clothing Bank is open Monday-Thursday from 8:30am to 2:00pm. Anything you can donate will help equip students with a necessity. We’re so grateful for your loving support!

School Uniform Drive

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.