Category Archives: Featured

Mellisa’s Story

I’m Mellisa, and I am a graduate of the Clothing Bank CEO Program.

I’ll start this story by saying I was arrested in 2002 when I was 29 years old. I went to prison for 20 years and 5 months, and then I was transferred to the Work Release facility (Hazel D Plant) in 2022. I spent 3 1/2 months there and in that time I got to work at Friendship House Clothing Bank. I was so standoffish at first, questioning why the people at the Clothing Bank were so nice to me and cared about me. I didn’t believe they truly wanted to help me reenter back into society, and I was worried because things had changed so much in my 20 years in prison. I had a lot of fears too – like being recognized, being safe, and learning how to make the changes in myself. I knew I would need to deal with how much people and society had changed.  The Clothing Bank provided a safe place, they never judged me, and they slowly taught me a lot of the things I hadn’t learned. I remember when they told me I had to take baby steps before I could walk – that was so true. I really had to pump my brakes!

I stayed at the Clothing Bank after I was released, then a few months later I left for a job in a restaurant. I thought I was fine and I could do everything on my own. It didn’t turn out how I thought it would be. Ms. Cheryl stayed in touch after I left the Clothing Bank, and she was able to give me support and advice and help me get through the problems I encountered, including the restaurant closing and being transferred to a different one. The Clothing Bank became my safe place and still, to this day, remains to be. The people there are so supportive and genuinely strive to help me accomplish my goals and achievements. Now, with hard work and the support of my friends at the Clothing Bank, I have a good job, a place of my own, and am working on an apprenticeship in culinary arts. I was selected to attend the National Restaurant Association’s Hospitality Pathways Conference in Washington DC where I’ll participate in interactive sessions led by national experts – I’m so excited. I hope to get my driver’s license and a car soon, and I’m also finishing up my Associate’s Degree in Human Services.  I have big dreams and am so proud of all I’ve accomplished so far. Thank you Friendship House for all you have done for me.

Friendship House for Me

About 8 months ago I was forced into the realization my life had become unmanageable and I was powerless over the circumstances to which I was living. With no options on the horizon, God dropped a way out into my lap.

After being abandoned and on my own since the 8th grade, I knew if I was going to find help, heal, and get my life together I could not depend on my family. By chance I happened upon a way into a rehab and intensive outpatient therapy (IOP) in California. I felt like my prayers had been answered. California was great and I was receiving great therapy. Unfortunately, I had to end this due to my kids being extremely neglected and abused by my mother in my absence. I was coming home to nothing: no car, no house, no job, and no prospects for the three.

I was due to arrive in Delaware early on a Thursday morning so I made an appointment for an IOP in Wilmington Friday. I didn’t know where I was going to live or how anything was going to work, but my kids needed me back. So long as I just keep doing the next right thing and the next right thing and the next right thing, the universe WILL provide a way and everything I need. Well God must have really heard me, and it all started with Friendship House. Someone at the IOP rehab center set up an interview with Friendship House during my intake and I was accepted!! IOP took me to get my luggage my mother was putting out in the rain. What felt to be my biggest hurdle turned into my greatest blessing! I moved into the Women’s Transitional Housing program immediately.

Since I have been there, I completed my IOP program, got the best job I ever had back, and enrolled back in school for my bachelor’s in science of criminal justice to become a criminal psychologist. I’ve gotten straight A’s not just in all my classes but also on every single assignment thus far. I’m active in AA/NA. The FH staff have helped me through several hurdles as I fight to get my kids back.

I truly don’t know where I’d be without Friendship House. I imagine this must be what it feels like to have a family that cares about the outcome of your life. To someone who’s never had a sense of family, I think that’s been the greatest gift of all. Friendship House will forever be my family even after I graduate. In a world where the system has failed me constantly and knocked me down, at least now I have Friendship House to help me stand strong. I couldn’t have done it without them.

Thank you Friendship House.

– Sarah

The Hardest Thing To Do

Over the past months, I have witnessed the toll addiction has taken on me and especially my family. And I realized continuing down that path would lead to health issues, strained relationships, and missed opportunities.

There is a saying that the hardest thing to do in life is say goodbye. Especially something that has made you feel good or made times easier for you. But eventually, you will realize it will take everything away from you, like your job, friends, and family. Is that something you really want? Think about it.

That is just something I was not willing to do any longer. In my addiction, there were a lot of ups and downs. I didn’t have any control of my life. I was tired of being tired and wanted to make a major change. Since being in Friendship House’s Men’s Transitional Program I have really gotten my life back on track. I am almost a year sober, have a stable job, just started driving again, and was able to purchase a vehicle. I’m doing things in my life I thought were impossible for me to do. I understand addiction is a complex and challenging struggle but being in this program really helps you conquer your addiction. I have realized there is so much more to life than your addiction. There are numerous resources available to help the recovery journey in this program. Friendship House helps you with getting an ID, make appointments, helps you find suitable treatment options, and provides any assistance you need along the way. If there is anybody in need of help, Friendship House can give you the confidence to overcome the challenges of your addiction and build a brighter future.

– Charles

Thank You and Congrats Gina!

We would like to recognize one of the graduates of the Friendship House Housing Program, Gina Martinez. She truly is an inspiration to all of us and her positivity is contagious. We are so thankful and blessed that she remains close to her Friendship House family by volunteering her time and energy with us. She started out as a part time cashier at ShopRite, and she is now an Assistant to Director of Security and Technology. Congratulations for being recognized at ShopRite for the amazing things you do!