Category Archives: Housing

Learn about our Transitional Housing program

Our Men’s and Women’s Transitional Housing programs are more than putting someone in a bed or offering a safe place to stay. It is a lot of intense case management, respect, and patience. Our staff walk with the residents every step of their journey while in our program and even well after they graduate. Many people think our TH programs are only for those who are suffering from substance abuse. We accept people from various residential programs such as inpatient substance abuse recovery, domestic violence shelters and, recently, human trafficking survivors.

Working with people who are survivors of human trafficking has been an incredible addition to our Women’s Transitional Housing program and made possible through a partnership with the Salvation Army’s Restoration Now program. Once a woman is approved for our TH program, we move them in and do what we do so well: offer holistic, caring, person-centered case management. These women have been through some of the worse trauma we have experienced, which is why how we work with them requires a different approach than other women in our TH program. To be prepared for this partnership, staff and I have had training and continue to take courses to earn certificates on this subject. Unfortunately, human trafficking happens everywhere and is a huge problem in our state and nationwide. I am happy to be a part of helping these survivors.

In addition to accepting human trafficking survivors, we recently built a new program for women coming out of incarceration who typically have not done any type of residential program and may need more case management than our stage one residents. This is called, “Entry Phase”. We also house domestic violence survivors from shelters. Sometimes, this means housing a parent as well as their children who have suffered significant trauma.

We find it is critical to think “outside the box” to help our residents. Our programming includes peer mentoring groups or 12 step programs, sometimes led by graduates of our program. We have a trauma group facilitated by Jewish Family Services. We have a cooking and nutrition class every week run by the University of Delaware. We have weekly Women’s and Men’s group meetings. We offer opportunities for residents to learn about various opportunities regarding certifications, career paths, and important life skills.

I chose this career path and I wouldn’t change it for anything. I have lived experience with all the different issues we address here. It is emotionally, mentally and physically challenging; and it is beyond rewarding to know we make a difference in people’s lives.

Shawn Helmick
Women’s Transitional Housing Director

A Letter from our Executive Director

Our Transitional Housing program is incredibly successful. When a person spends at least a year with us, they are 95% more likely to stay in recovery, to stay housed, and stay employed for at least 5 years than someone who’s in our program for less than 6 months. This is largely due to the loving, supportive environment we create.

There is no magical secret making this program so amazing. Though it does require the commitment of each resident and the dedication and love of our staff to make it so successful.

When someone starts in this program, they are often full of excitement because they have found an opportunity for grace, as well as fear that this new opportunity could slip away. Unfortunately, they often feel like this is their last chance of survival. Many of the residents that come to us bring a great deal of trauma. They have experienced neglect, abuse, self hate, loss, and incredible loneliness. Therefore, it is our priority to ensure every person sees the possibility of what is within themselves: they can gain control over their lives and not let their lives control them.

While in our program, we encourage the residents to take the lead in their own choices, ensuring we are tender and careful around their emotional and mental wounds, teaching what consequences may come based on their choices. It is not an easy job to let someone make their own decisions when the world can be so difficult. However, it is the most loving thing we can do. It is so important to offer guidelines, boundaries, and responsibilities – without ever disempowering someone.

Once given love, support and time, we see the incredible transformation as residents begin to overcome the greatest of pain and sorrow, and experience a better today. What makes our Transitional Housing program so successful? We spend time loving every person until they can love themselves again.

Our Transitional Housing program has been around for more than 30 years, and we have helped over 2,000 residents during that time. Throughout all this time, it has been fully supported by you: our loving, supportive community. Please consider a donation to this program through the Garden Fundraiser. It is a beautiful opportunity to honor someone you love- and support someone who needs to know they, too, are also loved.

Kim Eppehimer
Executive Director

Valerie’s Story

My name is Valerie, and I’ve been at Friendship House of Delaware now for just under a year. I was asked to make the commitment of one year in this program and to put my trust in my case manager, Shawn, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made in my life, because it saved it.

I am an alcoholic and addict of the hopeless variety, running my life into the ground every time I pick up a drink or a mind-altering substance, and blaming everybody but me along the way. I could not see that the drugs and the alcohol were the problem, for 20+ years they were my only solution. I couldn’t hold a job, couldn’t keep a roof over my head, and couldn’t take care of my 4 children, let alone myself. I sought help dozens of times throughout my life, but I only wanted for someone else to fix the outside problems, help me get a job, a car, my kids back, and a home. It is no wonder that none of those things ever worked out and no one was able to help me. The problem was me, and if I wanted to change my life, I had to change ME.

When I arrived at Friendship House, states away from home, no family or friends to call, a load of debt and bad credit, sketchy work history, no kind of education, mental health problems, and a ton of bad habits and attitudes, I was pretty desperate.

With the guidance of Friendship House, I got to work, and I haven’t looked back. Every day, I have followed instruction and done the work on myself, on my addictions, on my mental health, work life, education, dental, credit, attitude, relationships and self care. I started to trust Shawn; she was there for me every time I stumbled across a self-imposed roadblock or hurdle. She helped me see where I went wrong by allowing me to see it for myself, offering only support and solutions, and leaving me to suffer the consequences of my own actions. Eventually I learned to trust more staff, and each one has helped me learn something about myself that was not working for me anymore, and allowing me the space to grow from it. My failures became successes. I was able to ask for help when and where I need it, and I was connected with an incredible amount of resources in this community that has helped me achieve my goals. Angie, another case manager, taught me how to talk about my feelings when I need to, and let someone in. Somehow letting go of the wheel, trusting the process and listening to guidance is helping me win this thing. I’ve put in a lot of hard work, but I could not have done it without the help of Shawn and the Friendship House staff, volunteers, and supporters. I am so grateful to this program, and I hope it shows. Thank you, Friendship House.

New Housing Program

This year, FH will launch an additional housing program specifically for women who work at the Clothing Bank Creating Excellent Outcomes (CEO) Training Program and are exiting incarceration. Our Transitional Housing staff have been working hard to build this new housing program to support women like Diamond.

The program will provide housing, comprehensive case management, access to wraparound services, and a supportive, nurturing, and empowering environment. Receiving behavioral health services, attending intensive outpatient treatment programs, and fulfilling court-ordered obligations like Probation and Parole will be supported and emphasized. The program will be a precursor to our Women’s Transitional Housing Program. When the women are ready and if it’s a good fit, they can progress to our existing program to continue their pathway to self-sufficiency. FH plans to purchase an additional house specifically for this new program.

The women will remain employed at the Clothing Bank – a loving, supportive space providing flexibility with work schedules. Eventually, through our CEO Training Program, we will help them find meaningful, long-term employment. With this new housing program, we know we can provide a place Diamond and others like her can truly call home.

What Friendship House Has Done for Me

Let me start by saying I started my recovery journey in 2015. I came from New Jersey to the Salvation Army in Delaware. I had a chance to go through Friendship House in 2016 but chose a job in Virginia instead. I relapsed and came back to Delaware. I went through the Salvation Army again and then moved to Sojourners Place where again I relapsed. I went to Salvation Army for the third time and it was the charm.

I came to the Friendship House in May of 2021 and I wish I had done it back in 2016, but my counselor Paul wisely informed me that obviously I was not ready for it then. While here I have resolved issues with people I have hurt and have had a chance to sit and work on myself and life. For the first time I have money saved up so I can move forward and get my own place to live. I am very grateful for the time Friendship House has given me. I am proud to be the smile on the front of the Friendship House pamphlet and it lets me see there is a better way of living with the help & support of the people who work for Friendship House. Simply put, this program was a God send for me and an eye opener that I can be a functional member of society.

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