Category Archives: COVID-19

COVID-19 Update | November 11, 2020

Friendship House has been hard at work this year ensuring safe delivery of services during this pandemic. So far, we have ensured our guests experiencing street level homelessness, who had life lines shut down when the state went on lockdown back in March, had access to the most urgent things like bathrooms, hand washing stations, food, water and even emergency shelter through hotel vouchers. During this time, we were able to give 100 people hotel rooms, serve over 20,000 meals and countless cups of coffee!

We have seen significant increases in financial assistance requests. With support from businesses and foundations we have been able to provide more than 1,000 people directly affected by COVID-19 with additional financial assistance to prevent homelessness and lack of utilities.

We have continued to provide clothing, job training and transitional housing throughout this pandemic, too. Although never easy, FH continued to find a way in connecting people facing homelessness with loving, supportive communities they can call home.

Now, we face winter. FH is committing to providing winter shelter this season. Due to COVID-19, it will not be the same as previous years. We are working in collaboration with the state, county, our dedicated Code Purple partners, and many other agencies to ensure safe and effective options. Please make sure to follow us on Facebook and sign up for our electronic newsletters for updates.

Code Purple Update

We are pleased to share Friendship House is committed to providing Code Purple winter shelter for New Castle County this season. Due to COVID-19, it will not be the same as previous years. We are working in collaboration with the state, county, our dedicated Code Purple partners, and many other agencies to ensure safe and effective options. We are anticipating Code Purple to include day and night-time shelter this winter. More information will be shared as we know more. #AWayHome

Covid-19 Reflection

What would you do if you woke up one morning and suddenly your bathroom was locked with a sign that said “do not enter”? And when you went to your kitchen it was also closed; everywhere you turn there are ropes closing it off, not allowing you to access food.

When Delaware and states across the nation declared a state of emergency and required places of business to shut down, this is what happened to people experiencing street level homelessness.

With little to no warning, their life lines were closed to them.

One of the things I appreciate about Friendship House is our ability to move swiftly and respond to urgent matters. This was our time to step in. Within those first few days one of our immediate calls to action was to find public bathroom access for people who were experiencing homelessness. How were they expected to not only take care of personal needs but perform the most basic request of all of us: hand washing? Within a few days, with the direct assistance of New Castle County, there were port-a-potties with hand washing stations scattered across Wilmington, Newark, and even Millcreek where there used to be access to inside bathrooms.

Knowing we had to pull back our own accessibility to people, we requested financial assistance through the Delaware Community Foundation’s strategic response to COVID-19 fund and the United Way’s Delaware Does More fund. We were awarded money from both funds to help people experiencing homelessness in Wilmington and Newark safely quarantine through hotel assistance. With their help, we were able to house over 100 people who otherwise would have remained forgotten and invisible as their world closed around them. Understanding the funding stream for these hotel vouchers was limited, our next battle was to convince the state they had to take over payment of these rooms. On our final day of funding, that happened.

In Newark, food pantries and free food services became null. We did the only thing we knew how – we stepped in. With the help of our worshiping community, and many restaurants and businesses, we have been able to feed 45 people lunch and dinner in Newark daily. For most of them we drove the food to the hotel to serve. Through our masks and gloved hands, we continued to find connections with each person.

In Wilmington, when food options became scarce, we provided a cold meal to go with the usual morning coffee. We gave out over 600 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and 1,300 hard boiled eggs weekly – fully donated by our community.

You won’t find these accomplishments from Friendship House in the news. Friendship House has a small but mighty coalition of people who care deeply and are determined to serve. We do it because we can. We do it because we want to. We do it because we are needed. We do it because every person deserves a place they can call home.

More than half of our staff remains working on site, or “on the front lines”, to ensure our guests at every location are noticed, cared for, and receive essential services. Those who could work from home continue to give and work in any way they can. Friendship House may have closed some of its physical locations – but we never closed. And as we reopen what was closed, we do so with our guests and staff safety in mind.

During this time of uncertainty and fear, you continued to be there for us. Your gifts and donations brought joy and relief to us each and every time. We are so grateful and humbled by the love and support you have bestowed upon us.

Friendship House was founded on the values and principles of Jesus of Nazareth, which include walking alongside those who are the most marginalized, without judgement. This includes anyone who is feeling isolated, scared, or lost. We continue these principles today. No matter the reason they may be experiencing homelessness, we are here for them. 

Thinking back to March 12, when the state of emergency started, what was it like for you when your normal day got turned upside down?

Although we all have been in the same storm, the boats we are in are not the same. The Friendship House boat stays strong with your support as we search for other boats about to sink. We reach out to offer an oar or a new sail in order for that boat to stay afloat. The storm is not over – and there are many boats about to be plummeted by a wave. We know we can weather this storm. And with your help, we know we can help others weather the storm, too. Please, continue your prayers for our staff, guests, residents, and those who have yet found their way home. If you are able, please consider a financial donation supporting our mission. 

Thank you.

– Kim Eppehimer (Executive Director)

Covid-19 Update – Phase 1 Plan

A Message from our Board President:  

Dear Friends,  
I want to acknowledge with deep appreciation the food and monetary donations Friendship House has received from you our loving, supportive community. Your generosity not only provides much needed supplies and prayers but lifts the spirits of the staff. I also want to give a huge shout out to Kim and the amazing staff at Friendship House working daily on the front lines. I am in awe of their dedication, commitment and compassion for others.

The months ahead are still an unknown for all of us. I’m confident with our committed staff and your continued support Friendship House will find a new “normal” using creative ways to continue to be a way home and meet the changing needs of our community.  

With gratitude,
Meg Aument
President of the Board
An Update from our Executive Director:  

Every day since early March, we have asked ourselves: how do we respond to the needs of our community without putting our staff or guests at risk of COVID-19? As an immediate response to the pandemic, we limited access to every building and stopped some of our less essential programming. We quickly got creative on how to provide needed services. As the state of emergency continued, we continued with physical distancing, wearing masks onsite at all times, and washing our hands obsessively.

During this pandemic, Friendship House has been very fortunate to keep essential personnel with full pay. We have been very fortunate that you, our loving, supportive community, has lifted us in your giving and prayers. With support from the Delaware Community Foundation and the United Way of Delaware, we have housed over 80 people living on the street by placing them in hotels to safely quarantine. We have continued to be a beacon of light in our community, even through our gloved hands and masked faces.

As our state lifts bans and begins Phase 1 of its reopening plan, what does this mean for Friendship House?

We all miss their “normal” jobs, and yet we realize we have to look ahead and be safe for ourselves and for those we serve.  

Here is a summary of our next steps.

In our Transitional Housing program we are creating new interview protocols, requirements, and expectations for incoming residents. We are writing a plan of action for those entering the program, as many of the partners we turn to for resources continue to discern how and when they reopen and start offering vital resources again. We continue to keep high levels of cleaning protocols, especially as residents graduate into different stages and move to different houses. At this time, we are not allowing volunteers on site. However, we are still happily accepting your dinner donations for the residents!

Our Empowerment Centers will continue to meet emergency needs including food, clothing, and personal hygiene. Until we can ensure proper hand washing stations, a controlled environment with physical distancing and mask use of our guests, we will continue to serve from outside our walls. We are actively working on mitigating these concerns in order to provide additional resources our guests need. We believe we will have a temporary Wilmington Center available soon and we will begin offering emergency services in Middletown. At this time we are still asking for no volunteers.

We know so many of you are diligently holding onto your no longer needed or wanted clothing for our Clothing Bank! Please, hang in there a little longer. We are planning a weekly donation day at our Clothing Bank starting in June. We are working out details to ensure you and our staff are safe during this process! In the meantime, we continue to get clothing out for emergency cases. Some of our most important needs are new socks and underwear for all ages.

The Weekly Sunday Breakfast will continue to be done as it is now – coffee and breakfast to go.

We miss sitting down with our friends and sharing stories with each other. We miss the ease in which familiar faces would walk into any one of our locations without hesitation to drop off a gift or to pick one up. In a world with proper testing and vaccinations, it is our hope and prayer we can get back to that level of open hospitality. It is, after all, what we do so well. In the meantime, we will make deeply thoughtful and prayerful decisions. The Board of Directors and I will continue to make decisions that include every employee’s voice, the rules enforced by the State, and the needs of our community.

Please, continue your prayers for us and our community. Things remain very difficult for those who are experiencing or facing homelessness. People continue to face incredible pain and sadness as COVID-19 takes lives. And, please, follow the State and CDC guidelines – if not for you, then for someone you love.

As a human race we have an incredible opportunity to do good all the time. COVID-19 doesn’t stop that. Instead, it just increases our chances. So, do good today. And in that, help us to find a way home.

Your friend,
Kim Eppehimer
Executive Director

How can you help?

A donation to Friendship House will make a difference now more than ever. With our community facing new challenges because of Covid-19, financial aid is needed to help New Castle County find a new “normal”.

Join the Walk
On June 12th and 13th, 22 Friendship House teams will be walking in the Virtual Highmark Walk. 100% of the proceeds from a Friendship House team go directly to us. Please consider registering!

The CARES Act & Nonprofits: What You Need to Know

The CARES law now gives $300 annual deduction for charitable giving (no itemization needed). Previously, individuals were only able to deduct contributions if they itemized deductions on their personal returns. As a result of the 2017 tax law changes, the number of individuals who did so dramatically declined. CARES will allow for this deduction regardless of whether they will be itemizing their deductions, but only for the 2020 tax year. For those that do still itemize, CARES provides an increase in the Adjusted Gross Income cap from 60% to 100%. On the corporate side, the cap is raised from the historical 10% to 25%.

For more information Click Here.