Category Archives: Housing

A Message from Marcy Perkins

Dear Friends,
As of December 31, 2019, I will be stepping down as Director of Housing for Friendship House. I have been pondering this decision for several months and the timing seems propitious.

These past 25 years have been wonderful: at times heartbreaking; at times filled with joy. I have learned so much from the women; their courage in addressing their issues has inspired me to look at my own. Their deep spirituality has influenced my relationship with God.

My co-workers and the volunteers have been a source of support and inspiration: so many willing hearts and helping hands.

The gift that is Friendship House will continue to grace many lives, as it has graced mine. Thanks be to God who is so generous to all of us.

– Marcy Perkins

I am so grateful for Marcy – as a mentor, colleague and, most important of all, as a dear friend. Her leadership to our housing program and to all of Friendship House will be truly
missed.

Marcy leaves us a legacy full of her love of God and of humanity, and her devotion to our residents is built from that love. The best way we can honor her legacy is to keep the housing program going; a program built by her love, generosity, and keen sensitivity and awareness of the needs of others.

Our Transitional Housing program is as strong as it has ever been because of Marcy and the team of exceptional people who will continue to lead our housing program as she retires.

I hope you will join me in thanking Marcy for her amazing gift of service to others. We will find a time in the spring to celebrate her ministry to Friendship House.

We love you, Marcy. Thank you for being you.
Kim Eppehimer,
Executive Director

A Gift That Keeps Giving
Friendship House started the Perkins Fund when Bill Perkins, our previous Executive Director for the first 30 years, stepped aside. This fund is used to honor the legacy he built. Now we are honored to add Marcy’s legacy to this fund. Gifts made to this fund are used to ensure their programs continue! You can use the link below or send a check with “Perkins fund” in the memo to PO Box 1517, Wilmington DE 19899.Thank you.
Donate to the Perkins Fund

Jane’s Story: Facing My Fears

My story starts in a small town in South Jersey (Chatsworth) with a loving family and pretty much anything I needed. However, from as far back as I could remember I had always feared something. Whether it be death, failure, change, confrontation, rejection, success it didn’t matter I was fearful. I was pretty quiet growing up and shy for some reason I remember hearing it said kids should be seen and not heard. I liked to be at home I wasn’t much for socializing. I was an only child until age ten. When I was told about my mom’s pregnancy, I had an overwhelming fear for her well being and my unborn sister as well. All went well and although I had my sister, I still very much still felt to be an only child because of the age difference. During my teenage years, my fear became more of “Am I good enough?”, embarrassment, intimacy, feelings in general. Then my twenties seemed to bring even more fears and I became so uncomfortable with myself.

“I HAVE BEEN TAUGHT ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT CONCEPTS IN MY RECOVERY HERE – INTEGRITY.”

However, I did find alcohol to be some what of a mending agent. At this time I didn’t abuse it though I’ve been around alcohol my whole life. I believe myself to have been an alcoholic long before the substance entered my body. Whatever the fate may be, my drinking did progress around thirty eight and continued for about seven years. At that point the only fear I had was not having another drink. After a very tiresome bit I found myself hospitalized yet again and looking at treatment options. I was given an opportunity to come to the Wilmington, DE Salvation Army. Having no idea of what it was, I almost welcomed insanity, and said sure! Now I felt that some old fear creep in and I felt that fight or flight response I’ve always had, and something, maybe someone kept me still enough to make it to Delaware.

I was able to graduate from the Salvation Army program after nine months, who than referred me to the Friendship House of course with this move meant more fear. Was I ready? Should I think about going home? Again I felt the need to sit through this uncomfortable feeling for each time I have I seem to feel much better. Thank goodness for those other thoughts!

Friendship House has allowed me to ease back into society and be sure to take care of myself first and foremost. Through their counseling, outside therapy, different support groups, volunteers, AA, my sponsor, and my roommates, I am able to start facing my fears one day at a time. I am now employed with Parks and Recreation in the City of Wilmington because of a job opportunity presented through Friendship House by the Delaware Center for Horticulture called Branches to Chances.

I am forever grateful for the Friendship House, all persons involved, staff, volunteers, past and present. Also, to those we have lost on our journey. One last thing in closing I have been taught one of the most important concepts in my recovery here – integrity.

Yours truly,
Jane T

A Fearful Moment Leads to Grace: A Graduate’s Story

Eileen Taylor came to the Friendship House Transitional Housing program after she graduated from a program at the Salvation Army in February, 2016. Struggling to remain out of her addiction and homelessness, Eileen was determined, scared and just stubborn enough to overcome every obstacle.

While employed as a job trainee at the Friendship House Clothing Bank, Eileen applied for a position at BJ’s Wholesale Club. Although the position was part-time, Eileen was thrilled to receive the job.

Eileen worked hard on herself and at her job. Her part time hours became full-time and her responsibilities began to increase. Once she graduated from our program in January, 2017, she and another graduate shared an apartment for a year. Lacking part time experienced workers at our Clothing Bank, Eileen agreed to come back to help manage the warehouse. At this point, Eileen was self-sufficient enough to rent a place of her own. She was working hard, often tired, and going strong.

Then, in November of last year, tragedy struck; tragedy accompanied by a miracle. Eileen got home from work and was relaxing when a friend called and asked if they could get together that evening. Reluctantly, Eileen pulled herself together to go out. During that evening, the building in which Eileen had an apartment burned down due to an oxygen tank explosion. If Eileen had been home, the fire department said she may not have survived since her apartment was right next to the one in which the fire started.

We were all incredibly grateful she was alive and deeply saddened she had lost all her possessions, as well as her home. Eileen was experiencing homelessness all over again. However, this time, she had a loving, supportive community to hold and uplift her.

Friendship House Board members and volunteers donated gift cards so that Eileen could buy clothing (after she had gotten what she could from the Clothing Bank). As a graduate of Women’s Housing, Eileen was welcomed back into one of the Palmer House apartments, to stay as long as necessary. Thus, she had a roof over her head; she had friends to support her; she had gifts of money to feed and clothe herself. Mostly, she had time and space to recover from the devastation and trauma. A very special gift came from Mark Aitken, a good friend and supporter of Friendship House, which covered all of Eileen’s expenses, including new furnishings, when she was able to move into her own place.

Although devastated by her loss, Eileen remained grateful to God and to the many friends who helped her. She has been in her new apartment for several months and continues to work hard at BJs. In fact, her hard work won her the Employee of the Year award from BJs!

Eileen never lost faith in God or herself during this tragedy and has regained everything she needs. Without the Friendship House community, she would truly have been lost. To all of you who support Friendship House, we gratefully say, “Thank you.”

– Kim Eppehimer (Executive Director)

Tending My Garden

In this blessed Spring of 2019, my thoughts turn to gardening. Like so many before me, the garden represents my relationship to creation and to my Creator. Planting seeds, tending plants, watching them grow and mature are deeply satisfying activities. Nurturing the soil and the plants feels as if I am giving thanks to God who has given me so much.

At Friendship House, we have actual and symbolic gardens. Through our “Mother’s Day Garden” fundraiser and with the help of hundreds of volunteers, we have created a small paradise behind each site in Women’s Transitional Housing. As we weed, plant and prune the actual garden, I am reminded of the living “flowers” whom we also tend: the women and children living in our houses. The creation of beauty in the garden is symbolic of the re-creation of the lives of our residents.

Gardening also reminds me that God’s seeds, whether in my garden or in my women, always bear fruit.

Back in the 1990’s, when the Wilmington Empowerment Center was known as the Women’s Center, I had just started working for Friendship House. In the basement of St. Andrews’ Church (as it was then known), there was a drop-in center for women. Some of them were “hard core” street women. Some were seeking emergency shelter. Some came for the coffee and community. And then some to use the phone, receive mail or, sometimes, all of the above.

On a book shelf running through the middle of the Center, was a plant (a philodendron), housed in an old plastic food container which was filled with the hardest, driest dirt one could imagine. It was a miracle the poor thing was alive, being in a dark basement, in hard crusty soil, mostly ignored, quietly living its life waiting for someone to give it a bit of water.

It occurred to me how much that little plant was like our clients. They, too, had been abandoned, ignored, waiting for just a bit of attention so they could try to make it one more day on the streets. The tenacity of the philodendron was symbolic of the tenacity of our women who refused to give up or give in. Some were quietly persistent; others were loud and, frankly, obnoxious at times. Mentally ill, drug/alcohol addicted, rambunctious, in need of a shower or quietly hoping for help, our clients came in day after day, year after year. Some of them, over 20 years later, still come in to share their woes and their joys.

Fast forward to 1999 and the purchase of our Lincoln Street property which would become Palmer House, in memory of our friend Rev. Mark Palmer. One day, starting up the front steps, I saw a small petunia growing in a crack in the cement. It had obviously been seeded by a passing bird or a gentle breeze. It seemed to me that this small flower, so vulnerable yet so pretty, was symbolic of the women who lived in those houses: growing up starved, but still growing. Awaiting their chance to blossom.

Since that day, I have noticed more flowers growing in crevices around our properties.  Indeed, we even have a thorny old rose bush growing in the wall at the front of Palmer House. It has the most beautiful roses!

As Jesus told the disciples, “Feed my sheep,” I can hear a similar call: “Tend my garden. Be gentle with those who have been mistreated. Give them space to grow and to blossom.”

In response to this call, Friendship House offers beautiful houses, beautiful gardens and a structured program to help women blossom into their truest selves. Some residents take root immediately and thrive, while for others, this is not yet their season. The seeds are planted but not yet ready to bloom. Faith teaches us that the plants will emerge when the time is right, perhaps in a way that we cannot anticipate.

The miracle of Divine Love is that the Creator keeps the garden ready for all of us, waiting for us to find our way home.

– Marcy Perkins

In Loving Memory of Donna Johnson

Donna Johnson
September 11, 1962—September 13, 2018

Donna, a graduate of our housing program, died September 13, 2018 from cancer surrounded by family and friends. I am grateful to work with a group of people who are so compassionate and generous who have allowed the Housing Staff to walk with Donna and to keep her safe during the last years and days of her life. Your kindness gave her strength to fight the good fight. It touched and gratified her family to know she had such a supportive community. Blessings to you all.

– Marcy Perkins