Category Archives: Housing

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

Manipulation

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.

Story From Our Resident – Todd G.

Friendship House has given me freedom from a life of Pain! I was accepted into the Friendship House Program after graduating an eight month stay at The Salvation Army. I got sober there, but that was just a beginning.

Realizing I needed more support I entered Friendship House. I started off in Andrews Place where I was given a hot shower, a warm family-style dinner each night, and a safe place to sleep. Morning comes early at Andrews Place; I was up and ready to start my day before the sun was up.

Friendship House stresses the importance of Recovery meetings and I would go to “Early Risers,” starting at 7:30 am. After that I would pound the pavement and look for work. It took weeks to find a job, but I didn’t lose faith because of the support from my counselor, with whom I would have weekly sessions.

The great thing about the counselors here is they are always present even if you don’t have a scheduled session with them. This was–and is– extremely beneficial to me in helping stay focused.

After showing I could work and follow the rules, I was moved over to Criswell House, where I was allotted a little more freedom. You have responsibility to keep the house clean and welcoming for the next candidate. It was instilled in me the importance of setting attainable goals. I set goals for my physical, financial and mental health and–sometimes to my surprise–I achieved them!

Now I’m at Daughtry House. Here I’ve been afforded the opportunity to grow even more. I’ve had “time,” which is something the Friendship House has given me: time to really reconnect spiritually with God; time to improve my self-esteem, time to build friendships that will last a lifetime. And, most of all, time to realize I’m no longer a strung out junky. I’m a Human Being just doing the very best I can with what God has given me.

I plan on returning to college in the near future to finish my Behavioral Science degree. My hope is that I will be able to give back what was so freely given to me!

– Todd G.

Story From Our Resident – Ashley S.

I am currently in Stage Two of the Women’s Transitional Housing program. I can hardly begin to explain how much this program has done for me and the extent of my gratitude for the staff and other women here.

I transitioned from the “Six for One” program in Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution to a residential inpatient program through Connections for women. Then I came to Friendship House.

At the beginning of my journey, I was broken, at my rock bottom and hopeless. I am proud to say that today I have almost ten months clean time. I actively participate in the NA and AA programs. I do one-on-one treatment through Connections’ Outpatient substance abuse treatment. I am compliant with all probation requirements, have paid off all fines and fees that I owe to the state. Most important, I am gradually becoming more active as a parent to my two-year old daughter, who is allowed and encouraged to stay with me. Last, but not least, my focus and determination allowed me to accept a position as Assistant General Manager at a restaurant where I have been working on and off for five years.

From planning out my days one week ahead of time, the responsibility of being home for dinner every night in Stage One, to allocating my money by writing out my financial plan, saving money, meeting program requirements and setting short term weekly goals, I am learning a lot. I feel that with hard work and constant determination I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. In a nutshell, I’ve been guided in the right direction to live a more structured, responsible and successful lifestyle which, to me, is key after living a chaotic and unproductive life of drug use and crime for a long
time.

I plan to stick and stay as long as I am allowed. I am so grateful for all the love and support I have been shown and for my daughter being allowed to come here. Coming to this program is one of the best decisions I’ve made thus far in my life.

– Ashley S.

Story From Our Resident – Chuck D.

Approximately 10 months ago, I came into the Friendship House Men’s Housing Program. I felt blessed when they told me I was accepted into the program because, frankly, I had no where else safe to go. Had I not been accepted in the program, I could not say with certainty I would still be in recovery or even alive.

You are around people who become like family, so you have a network before you are even introduced to the AA or NA meetings. They show you how to balance and save your money to prepare you for when you complete the program.

There is such a bond you grow into with your counselors; they help guide you and help you. They are spiritual guides that can bounce ideas back and forth. The actual housing is just one small part of a bigger program. In all aspects of your life, you have people who can/will help you as long as you put in the action required. I never felt unwelcome or out of place, which is a big deal for me. I feel like this is the first home I’ve had in a long time–not because of the building but because of the positive vibrations the staff projects.

I still have a lifetime to live, thanks to the help of Friendship House and I believe I will have a lifetime of friends/family because of this program.

In December, we had a Christmas Party; some of us don’t have family. The staff and volunteers made sure we came together; we had dinner and shared good times, laughing with each other. The gifts they gave were very cool. Material things are not what I focus on as much in these days, but it was very nice and it made me feel loved to receive them. It made me cry tears of joy because I haven’t felt love like this in a long time.

Tonight, I know I will sleep with a roof over my head, warm in bed, in clean clothes, clean body, happy with a group of people who have my best interest at heart, who I can talk to anytime. Thank you, God.

– Chuck D.