Category Archives: Code Purple

Winter Programming

Each winter, Friendship House (FH) provides additional programming to give those most vulnerable more options during the coldest times of the year. These services include our Saturday Morning Hospitality at First & Central Presbyterian Church, which creates an opportunity for those experiencing houselessness in Wilmington to seek warmth every Saturday morning. This then provides a place for a person to go every morning during the winter months as our Wilmington Empowerment Center is always open in the mornings Sunday through Friday. In addition to Saturday Morning Hospitality, all five of our Empowerment Centers extend their normal hours on the coldest days.

Our Winter Seasonal Programming also includes Code Purple which FH offers in New Castle County when overnight temperatures feel like 20 degrees or below. When the temperature dips this low, the outdoor conditions can become life-threatening. With the support of our community, which provides volunteers, food, and space, we can open for overnight emergency shelter in Wilmington, Newark, and Middletown. This service is critical and needed in our community.

We have hosted 8 Code Purples already this season, and expect more cold nights to come. When asked what Code Purple is like, Sajhi, a Code Purple guest, replied “It’s a blessing. Some say people don’t care, these people care.” Other guests, Kauhdria & Derek, shared “Everyone is treated the same.”

Joe, who frequents both of our Wilmington winter services, shared, “It’s the only place open, I come to get out of the cold, get something to eat. [The] best part is just being able to come in.” Anthony shared, “I come because there is no other place to go after being put out of the shelter. I come for coffee, food and to recharge my phone. The volunteers treat us as people. They respect us and talk with us.”

We are so grateful for our community and faith partners who make these services available.

 

Code Purple

For many Delawareans, Dec 23 was a Friday filled with finishing work before a long weekend, running last-minute holiday errands, or journeying to visit family or friends. Throughout the hustle and bustle of the day, you may have noticed a 45 degree drop in temperature. The morning started at a rainy 57 degrees and ended at 12 degrees with a feels like temperature of -8. This may have meant grabbing a heavier coat for evening plans, planning to Uber or drive instead of walk, or choosing to stay in all together. For someone experiencing homelessness and living on the street, however, proper planning for nights this cold can be the difference between life and death.
For Friendship House (FH), we are prepared to offer a warm, safe place for those experiencing homelessness on nights like this through our emergency shelter program, Code Purple, which is enacted when temperatures fall below 20 degrees in New Castle County. This life-saving program offers overnight shelter for anyone experiencing homelessness or houselessness. Over the weekend of Dec 23, which happened to be the weekend of Christmas, FH called Code Purple for 3 nights in a row. 
Frances, who utilized Code Purple over the holiday weekend shared, ”It’s a warm place. The food is good, I love the food!’ Frances has utilized our programs for about 5 years now. She also noted she enjoys seeing familiar faces, meeting new friends and feels Code Purple is a community. Dana, a long-time FH visitor, said “It’s awesome!” when asked about Code Purples. Dana also noted he enjoys the environment of Code Purples and the feel of togetherness.
This is why we do what we do, for people like Frances and Dana, so they can stay alive to see another day. 
We are so grateful for our loving, supportive community who make this program possible. We can only run this program because of our dedicated volunteers and faith community partners who continue to open their doors for people experiencing homelessness in order to feel togetherness. There will be more Code Purples to come this winter. If you’re interested in getting involved, please reach out to us by emailing volunteer@friendshiphousede.org.

On a Cold Night

Imagine you are outside during one of the coldest months of the year, the temperature is below freezing, the wind is whipping fast, and there is no sun to help warm your body. Now imagine you don’t have a warm home to escape to.

For people in our community experiencing homelessness, they don’t have to imagine this as this is their reality. “It’s unsafe for people to be out there when it’s so cold,” says Robin, the Manager of our MOT Empowerment Center. These individuals typically go unnoticed, they are ignored.

Not by Friendship House. FH partners with various faith communities to run our Code Purple program throughout New Castle County. Code Purple gives individuals experiencing street-level houselessness a warm and safe place to stay overnight when the temperatures are too dangerous to be outside.

“It’s just not safe. We give them a place to feel welcomed. To feel seen and not forgotten,” Robin added.

Long time Newark Code Purple volunteer, Tom, spoke about his experience, “Code Purple has been a gateway to getting to know the homeless folk. I’ve developed some terrific relationships, friendships.” Robin mentioned a conversation she had with a client who frequents our Code Purple’s, “in all the places he’s traveled through he said he’s never felt this type of hospitality or love.”

Code Purple is a life-saving program. FH does this with help from our loving, supportive community. “Our community has really pulled together,” Robin said. Tom was right in saying, “it takes all kinds of people to make this thing work. We can’t do it alone.”

Hope Center Update

In December, New Castle County purchased the former Sheraton hotel, now called the Hope Center. The vision was to welcome those experiencing homelessness into a temporary shelter for the winter. The county invited us to run programming out of this location, as we know the clientele well. We ensure all guests have access to food and transportation to their appointments and work. Our program also includes access to case management along with medical assistance, mental help professionals, and substance abuse counselors.
 
As of February 10, we had 166 guests filling 105 rooms. Our goal is to secure permanent housing for our guests and keep them from returning to the street. If you or someone you know could benefit from this service please leave a voicemail or text 1-833-FIND-BED.
 
We are always looking for more volunteers or donations. If you’re interested in volunteering at the Hope Center, please email volunteer@friendshiphousede.org. From monetary donations, click here to donate now!
 
Click here to read some Hope Center stories!

Hope Center Stories

Behind every face is a story. When you look at someone’s face, you can only make guesses, or judgements, about the story based on what you think you see. Is there sadness or pain in their eyes? How old are the scars? How many sighs or laughs have those wrinkles experienced? 

When someone shares their story, it can change how you see their face. We realize the scar was from a childhood accident. We learn the sadness is from the fear of an aging parent, or lost child, or of the future. We might learn the wrinkles are from decades of walking in the sun.

We decide what part of our story we share. This is why it is such an honor for us at Friendship House to hear stories – whatever part someone is willing to tell. When someone reveals a piece of themselves they are exposing more of who they are and becoming vulnerable. In response, we look at that beloved face with compassion: a gift we can offer back. When hearing a story with compassion, oftentimes you see the face as more precious, more loved, and more beautiful. We are all children of God on a journey to find home. How we listen and learn along that journey could affect how we see one another and ourselves. 

We have already experienced hundreds of stories at the Hope Center. We are honored to share a few of these with you. 

When we opened on December 15, we welcomed 73 people who otherwise would have come to one of our Code Purple locations this winter. One woman came without her husband because he was in the hospital recovering from serious liver issues. She cried as we did her intake explaining her fear he may not make it. She told us, “We have never been apart. I am scared to be alone.” We assured her she wouldn’t be alone and noted to check in with her daily.

A man came in with bottles of alcohol in every pocket. He looked ready for a party. “You can’t have that with you,” we let him know. He let it all be confiscated as he drunkenly walked into his new home. The next morning, he thanked us for this opportunity. He explained without the Hope Center, he was sure this would have been the winter he died. He’s 56. He’s been suffering from substance abuse for many years. He drinks so much that not drinking without medical assistance would likely kill him. Within a few days we had him connected to the DSAMH Bridge Clinic onsite at the Hope Center. Although it is not a straight road to recovery, he has been in recovery for five weeks now and he’s doing great.

One woman has been living in a state of homelessness for 25 years. She’s very capable of managing the basics of her life, but she is suffering from psychosis of some sort. She lives in fear that someone comes into her room and messes with her belongings. Regularly she will call us expressing her concern. We pull the key logs and verify with her that no one but her has been in the room. And, if someone was, it was to fix a light, her microwave, or to perform weekly housekeeping duties while she remained available to watch. No matter the convincing we do, she still calls us daily to remind us someone is entering her room unannounced. She is an artist, and around the holidays made beautiful picture frames from wooden popsicle sticks and wrote a lovely note thanking us for being so kind.

We have a family of eight at the Hope Center. The mother works downstate and early every morning she takes five of her seven children with her and drops them off with grandparents. Two of those children still attend school in person through a Maryland school district, who has arranged transportation to and from the grandparent’s house. The three younger kids are watched by grandparents. Her oldest two sons, both in high school, are at the Hope Center virtually learning. The oldest boy, who is eighteen years old, has access to a second car and will take himself and his brother to a local park to play basketball. 

The journeys of our guests at the Hope Center are all unique and special. It remains a joy to be their loving, supportive community during this difficult time as they find their way home.