FH is exiting the NCC Hope Center as their Social Service Anchor. We planned to manage client services there temporarily through March 2021. As COVID-19 continued to limit resources, we agreed to stay for the remainder of the year. We are grateful to always be connected with the Hope Center, serving more than 1,000 people experiencing homelessness in its first year. As we exit the Hope Center, we are witnessing the many needs throughout our county and state and will do what we do best: fill the gaps in services for those experiencing homelessness and houselessness. From expanding our Clothing Bank’s School Uniform program to meeting the needs of a variety of residents in our Transitional Housing program to focusing on the growing needs of an increasing population of unsheltered people through our Empowerment Centers and Financial Assistance program – the need is everywhere. We are looking forward to refocusing our energy and resources on our core programming to be the best version of ourselves as we can, helping people with love and support. Thank you for all you do to make these things possible. We are forever grateful.
Category Archives: Homeless
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.”
Friendship House believes homelessness occurs when someone is disconnected from their community. This is because, as so many of us have experienced, your home is where your heart is and your heart tends to be embedded in those you love: your community of friends and family. Losing this can feel like you are losing everything.
There is so much pain involved with homelessness. Partly due to the losses one suffers and largely because those experiencing homelessness are treated poorly because of the stigma associated with being “homeless.”
Some perceive homelessness as a choice or one’s own fault. Some believe those who live on the streets are dangerous and cause criminal acts of violence. Many see those experiencing homeless as dirty. These perceptions result in the homeless population seeming invasive, unwelcomed and even an “eye sore.” The separation and stigma of homelessness is worsened by the need for someone else to be on the bottom rung of the ladder. This stigma has propelled classism creating a larger rift in our community in a time when the marginalized need to feel loved more than ever.
Ultimately, these beliefs result in society turning a blind eye to those in need. It can be easier to allow those suffering to continue suffering, especially if the suffering doesn’t affect the person who can offer help. This is seen in how hard it is for a person to get out of a homeless situation. For example, it is very hard to find a job without stable housing. It can be hard to earn a livable wage after being incarcerated. It is hard to save money when living paycheck to paycheck. It is unconscionable how hard society has made it on those who are stigmatized and suffering.
When someone who can offer help faces someone who is suffering, they have a choice: allow them to keep suffering or offer grace?
The Webster dictionary defines grace as “disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency.” This seems like the exact response to someone who is suffering, doesn’t it? Then why do we, as a community, insist on making it so hard for someone who is already suffering – whether it be from mental illness or substance abuse, or any other marginalized community? There is too much stigma resulting in not enough resources for those who are on the margins, suffering, and separated from their community. Our community has a choice on how we respond and how we help.
FH believes everyone deserves grace. No matter how many bridges may have been burnt or how many times you have received grace already, we will continue to offer grace. Whether it is the moment you begin a difficult journey or you have been on a difficult journey for years, we will always be your loving, supportive community.
When someone asks for help, at FH we choose grace. What will you choose?
Kim, Executive Director
“If [Friendship House] didn’t exist, I wouldn’t actually know what to do,” said Timothy, who has been utilizing the services provided at our Empowerment Center for many years. He first came to us when he was a child in the 90s with his mother. We assisted his mother with her overdue bills through what was then the Women’s Day Center. Timothy came back to us in his adult life for assistance, remembering how FH was able to assist his mother.
Timothy and Sheree (pictured left) are currently renting a room from a family member. Presently, they are unemployed and working with our staff to help secure a job and find permanent housing. This is especially important as Sheree is currently pregnant with their child. Sheree described a typical day for them, “We wake up about 7 am – 8 am, come to the Wilmington Empowerment Center to get some coffee and then we usually get on the bus, take care of the business we have to take care of.” Timothy added, “Waking up every morning, trying to figure out your next move is the most stressful part.”
Most of the folks our Empowerment Centers work with are currently experiencing homelessness and in desperate need of basic necessities and a loving, supportive community. This is where FH aims to fill the gaps by providing those needs to the community. “Friendship House guides you to the right path,” said Timothy about how FH has impacted his life. Guiding people towards a path of self-sufficient living within a community is part of our mission.
Sheree and Timothy frequently visit our Empowerment Center for the morning hospitality, clothing, checking their email, and other delivered mail. “They give me good advice,” Sheree said. “Currently, they are helping me get insurance and my food stamps. They also let me use their PO Box mailing address.”
“Most of the stuff I receive I would have never had. I got my birth certificate, social security card, and my ID through [FH]… Nine times out of ten, nobody would be where they are without Friendship House,” Timothy added after reflecting on the impact FH has made on his life. He continued, “I think FH plays a role in everything we do… They help with the struggle you’re going through.”
We aim to create a sense of community to help everyone find a place to call home. Timothy and Sheree reflected on their experience with the various staff members and volunteers they have met and worked with at the Empowerment Center. “Without [Friendship House] I would be lost because this is where I get most of my information. Each person here helps you get something different,” Sheree said.
“I think FH plays a role in everything we do… They help with the struggle you’re going through.” – Timothy
Timothy mentioned, “Christina (Empowerment Center Case Worker) would definitely say ‘don’t give up, no matter what you’re going through.’ Christina makes you smile more than anything.” Timothy and Sheree both praised the staff and volunteers for their attitudes, approach, and the work they do. Everyone involved with FH believes in the mission and works to fulfill this mission every day. “I appreciate all of them. I respect all of them,” Timothy said about the staff at the Empowerment Centers.
We work with thousands of individuals, each on a different path and at various points in their journey, every year at our four Empowerment Centers (Wilmington, Newark, MOT, and Boxwood). Our staff and volunteers work tirelessly in an effort to ensure everyone feels as though they are part of a loving, supportive community.
We hope to meet those in need, wherever they are in their journey. “[FH] taught me a valuable lesson: always keep asking for help, never stop asking for help because you’re gonna get it no matter where you go,” Timothy said.
We work to unite people facing homelessness with loving, supportive communities they can call home. And while they continue on their journey, we become their community. Timothy added a final comment about FH, “If you keep coming here, you’re not a friend anymore, you’re a family member.”