Category Archives: Housing

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

A Letter from our Executive Director

Friendship House has started several initiatives this year in order to stay committed to ensuring love and support are made available to our entire Delaware community. One initiative is to fully expand our Clothing Bank and Empowerment Center programs into Sussex County. The demands for our services continue to grow and we need to show up for our neighbors. Currently, we are providing these services to Georgetown and Seaford once a week.

The second initiative is decreasing youth homelessness in Delaware in partnership with several organizations. Together, we plan to scope out a multi-step process for minimizing youth homelessness and open up an avenue for more funding for the state of Delaware to address this issue. We have also successfully held a convening regarding youth homelessness where youth came to share their experiences.

Our third initiative is to ensure we provide transitional housing for all people. Our current houses are labeled for men and women and were originally designed with cisgender people in mind. We want to ensure we have a safe space for those who may identify differently. Therefore, we will expand our Transitional Housing program to include a house specifically for this group of people who are experiencing homelessness and can’t find a place where they feel safe and where they feel they belong.

These initiatives are bold. And we know we need to be creative, intentional, and authentic to fully support our most marginalized neighbors. Friendship House remains committed to being part of the change needed to ensure every person is on a pathway to finding their way home. We stand by our core value: Everyone deserves to thrive.

– Kim Eppehimer, Executive Director

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

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

1 2 3 7