Category Archives: Homeless

My Journey to Independence

A story from one of our housing graduates, now part time employee at the Clothing Bank.

I left it all behind, everything familiar and comfortable to me was left in New Jersey: family, friends, home, addictions.  I started over in Delaware.

Nearly penniless, jobless and just completing another program in Delaware where I gained a greater understanding of God and faith, I needed a safe place to live a clean and sober life.  I knew I needed an additional program, something greater to keep me on my journey to an independent and clean life that I had started in Delaware.  Grace led me to Friendship House.

I knew nothing about Friendship House but applied for the Transitional Housing Program.  At my first interview with Marcy Perkins I knew I was going to be okay.  I had no ID, no social security card, no birth certificate, NOTHING!  What I remember most of that meeting with Marcy was what she said when she learned that I had no documentation of my life.  She simply said, “We can help you”.   I arrived at the Epiphany House on February 15, 2016.  This is when my new life began.

This was not my first attempt to be clean. I have struggled with addictions since the 80’s and attempted recovery many times in the past.  Recovery is difficult; it takes a lot of work.  When you lose belief in yourself, have no money or family, no job, do not recognize your skill sets, and have no self-worth, it is easier to” just use.”   This is where I was when I left New Jersey and made my way across the bridge to Delaware, to my new beginning.

Walking into the Friendship House housing program, I found a safe haven.  It was as if my own mother’s arms were wrapped around me.  The housing staff spent hours getting my ID, social security card, birth certificate and marriage certificate.  If that was not enough, they help me gain employment at the Clothing Bank of Delaware.  My first paying job in a very long time.

All of a sudden, I began to feel like a human again!  I was contributing to my community and society in a meaningful and constructive way!

Many events happened to help transform me.  Meeting with my caseworker, Maryanne, every day to share what I did and late night talks with Shirley helped me gain confidence that I was capable of making good choices.   After a while, I was comfortable enough to meet with her once weekly.  I was taught to budget (which was not fun for Maryanne) but it paid off big for me.

The staff would leave the office on Friendship House budget review days. Working at the Clothing Bank of Delaware, I felt like a valued employee.  Working with Kathy, I was not judged for my past; I was valued for the skills I brought to the job (I had forgotten I had skills)!

I also learned how to communicate better because of all of the Friendship House programs.  I found I was no longer angry at the world.  Everywhere I turned there was someone from Friendship House working  to help me: everyone in housing, Marcy, Maryanne, Shirley and Shawn, board members Sharon and Kay, the Clothing Bank, Marc, Kathy and the Main Office, Roxane, Mr. Bill and Kim.  It just seemed impossible that this many people want to see me succeed and truly care about me.

The entire process helped me to obtain my new job at BJ’s Wholesale Club. But, it was no secret that I really wanted to work at Friendship House.  If I could work at Friendship House, I, too, could possibly make a difference in the life of another person.

Life has a funny way of working out when you start doing the right things and make the next right decision.  I graduated from the Friendship House in January 24, 2017.  Now I have INDEPENDENT housing, a savings account, a checking account and a 401K plan!  As I said earlier, that time spent with Maryanne paid off!  (My apologies to Maryanne for being difficult).  Then to add a cherry on top, I was invited to interview for an open position at the Clothing Bank of Delaware.  So, I now work at BJ’s and at the Clothing Bank of Delaware.

My journey gets better every day.  I am not saying that there are not difficult times but I know that I have the strength and courage to get through any challenge.  I have reunited with my family in New Jersey.  They are very proud of the person I am today.  I have gained a new family in Wilmington, Delaware.  Marc Marcus, upon my hire at the Clothing Bank, ended our meeting by saying that what mattered more than the job I was taking was me.  I was worth the investment that Friendship House had made in me over the past year.

I am brought to tears (ask anyone in Friendship House) each time I talk about my journey at Friendship House.  I am in awe of the path God has laid out for me.  My soul is filled with gratitude and thanks to Friendship House for reminding me that God is not done with me.  I am here, I can make a difference and I matter.

– Eileen Taylor


As part of our 30 stories for 30 weeks in celebration of our 30th anniversary, we share this story titled Manipulation by one of our housing graduates, Ronda J.

I look back at the people in my life, and I can’t help but feel witty.  I’ve lied, manipulated and betrayed in the past. In my recovery, I’ve learned that these were part of my character defects. I always justified these behaviors. I was seeking sympathy and pity from others. In this way, I could get what I wanted when I wanted it. I felt I deserved it. If anything bad happened, it wasn’t my fault because the world was out to get me. My manipulation allowed me to control every situation. I thought control was the key to everything. I failed to realize that my actions took that same control away from me. The things I did made my life unmanageable. In my eyes, though, no one had the right to tell me what to do.  As my life spiraled downhill, I became completely lost. I hid my emotions, who I really was, in different addictions. Food was my first addiction, then I substituted alcohol and pills. I didn’t have the food or weight to hide behind, so I found other things.

Due to my manipulation and lies, I was able to hide my addictions for years. My weight had led to health problems, so any signs of my addiction were attributed to those health problems. People felt more sympathy for me, and that just fed the whole cycle of self-pity.

Finally though, I hit the proverbial bottom. I lost control of my life, all pride, and my job. The loss of these things barely fazed me. All I could think about was making any feelings go away.

At one moment of clarity, I knew I needed help. I ended up at the hospital for the first time admitting to someone that I was an alcoholic. I begged for help. My pleas landed on deaf ears. Even during my subsequent stay detoxing, my pleas to go to rehab failed.

After getting out, I did take control again: calling, writing, doing everything I could do to get help. I put as much determination in that as I had in my using.

I don’t know what I expected, but I soon realized going to rehab was my way of running from who I was and what I was doing to myself. I somehow thought I could manipulate my way through rehab as I had through life. Little did I know that I was trying to manipulate people who had seen it all: other addicts, manipulators and counselors who saw through it.

I spent the next 5 months, 21 days trying to see me. I had to dig through 30 years of lies and hidden emotions: pain that I’d covered up and fears that I’d denied.

Facing these problems was the hardest thing I ever had to do. I knew if I didn’t face it, I would continue to run and hide, resorting to the same old behaviors. The same fight I had put into running and hiding all of those years I now had to put into my recovery. I had to make the choice between recovery or relapse.

I chose recovery. Part of that meant turning my control over again. I decided not to go back downstate to a family that loved, but enabled me. Instead, I went into transitional housing. I had gained strength, and I knew I needed the help and support of people who understood me.

Giving up control and old behaviors that I’d lived for so long was necessary for me to live. Over 8 months, I’ve grown finding the person I am, setting up the boundaries I know I need to in order to be spiritually alive. I learned to live again with honesty, open-mindedness and willingness.

– Ronda J.

Our Next Executive Director Is Named!

Friendship House of Delaware is proud to announce that Kim Eppehimer is to be the next Executive Director effective January 1, 2018.

Kim has been working at Friendship House since 2014, after volunteering through Red Clay Creek Church Presbyterian Church for several years.

After working over a decade in the multi- family and low income real estate field as a loan officer, a Vice President, and a software engineer, her family moved to Delaware while she worked from home as a consultant to be with her two young boys.

Once she found work at Friendship House, she knew she found a vocation and a place to call home.

“This is truly an honor. I am humbled to have been chosen for this role and I am committed to both the mission and people of Friendship House,” Kim says.

During her time with Friendship House, Kim has been actively involved at each ministry. From ministering to volunteers at winter sanctuary, mentoring interns, and walking with clients in the suburban empowerment expansion ministry she helped to establish, Kim has developed a knowledge and a passion for each of the ministries.

Kim comes to us with a Masters of Accounting from the University of Maryland, and recently received a certificate in Theology and Ministry from Princeton Seminary and a certificate in Nonprofit Management from the University of Delaware.

Bill Perkins, who has been serving as Executive Director of Friendship House since 1989, is pleased with this choice. “Ever since Kim began volunteering at Friendship House, it was clear she has the passion to serve the homeless and our community, as well as the capability of running such an organization. I could not be more pleased with the selection of Kim as Executive Director. As we celebrate our 30th year of operation and move into the next phase, Kim will be the kind of leader that can continue the mission of Friendship House.”

Marc Marcus (Assistant Executive Director and Director of Day Ministry), Marcy Perkins (Director of Transitional Housing), and Kathy Graham (Director of the Clothing Bank), are in agreement with Bill. “Kim will be a wonderful Executive Director. We are looking forward to continuing to work with her and supporting her in her new role.”

Please join us at our annual meeting Sunday, April 23 to congratulate Kim!
Annual Meeting Details
12:00 PM: Open House at Friendship House Admin Office
1503 W. 13th Street, Wilmington DE
1:30 PM: Annual Meeting at Westminster Presbyterian Church
1506 W. 13th Street, Wilmington DE