Category Archives: Newsletters

2,500 Uniform Items Down, Many More To Go!

The Friendship House Clothing Bank School Uniform Initiative was developed out of an identified need in our community as the many impacts of the pandemic began to surface. One of these impacts is the barrier for families to provide their children with the necessary items to be successful in the classroom due to their financial situation. The consequences can be significant when they show up to school out of dress code. In some instances they can miss class time or face disciplinary actions to rectify the issue. We are working hard to ensure that students have access to proper dress code items, like school uniforms, regardless of their financial situation. No child should be singled out because they do not have access to a basic need.

There are students in Delaware public schools who are struggling to obtain the required dress code uniform: solid color polo shirt and khaki/navy pant. In collaboration with school district personnel, principals, resource counselors, and other administrators we are working to meet the needs of the community. For the upcoming school year, we will be providing 2,000 students, throughout 5 targeted schools in the Red Clay Consolidated School District, with uniform items.

One of our participating schools for the 2021-2022 school year is Emaela P. Warner Elementary School. They are a Title I Community School within the City of Wilmington, serving a large population of students and families on the North and West sides of Wilmington. Jolisa Baker, Site Coordinator for Warner Elementary, explained that, “For Warner, the [School] Uniform Initiative will help several families send their children to school in their uniform at the beginning of the year and throughout the year.”

“Warner Elementary is very grateful for the Friendship House School Uniform Initiative and [we] look forward to participating every year!” – Jolisa Baker

Because of you, we have 2,500 uniform items in our inventory! These items will be distributed to the schools at the end of August. But this is just the start! Each year our initiative will grow, and we will continue expanding our reach until we are able to ensure every student in Delaware has a school uniform. Our vision is large, but we are committed to do what it takes; your loving support is what will help us reach this goal.

For more information and ways to help, please click here.

Furry Family Members Remain With Their Loved Ones

The support the Hope Center has received has assisted hundreds of individuals and families, and this includes several pets like Scruffy (see Jim and Scruffy’s story on the front page). Friendship House has partnered with Faithful Friends to ensure all guests with an animal companion receive the care they need. Sarah Granda, Marketing and Public Relations Manager for Faithful Friends, shared, “By providing basic and urgent veterinary care, pet food, and care packages that include treats, blankets, sweaters, and toys, we are keeping pets out of local animal shelters and with the families they love.”

“Since the Center’s opening in December, we’ve provided ongoing care for 30 pets including cats, dogs, guinea pigs, hamsters, and reptiles” – Sarah Granda

For some individuals and families, these pets are their service or companion animal. “We understand that pets provide emotional support to their owners and enrich the lives of those around them,” Sarah added.

Nancy Correll, Faithful Friends Volunteer

“In spite of everything they have been through, [the animals] are certainly loved and in good shape,” said Nancy Correll (pictured right), a Faithful Friends volunteer. Nancy shared with us the joys of what she does, recalling an individual who had been living in his car with his two dogs. Nancy, along with our staff walked with them on their journey. They are now in permanent housing and Nancy recalled, “the dogs maintained their well-being the whole time [they] were here.”

“We feel strongly that accessible services are vital for an equitable community and we enjoy working alongside the Friendship House team to support pets and people in our community” – Sarah Granda

Thanks to you, our loving supportive community, we have been able to provide families, individuals, and their animal companions with the attention and resources that they deserve.

“We all work together with one common goal” -Nancy Correll

And because of your loving support, we are one step closer to that goal.

We Survive Terrible Circumstances Because We Have Each Other

Dear Friends,
We survive terrible circumstances because we have each other. This is the heart of community and what helps us feel at home. This was evident in so many ways these past 18 months. You assisted your neighbors by bringing them groceries while they quarantined. You supported local restaurants and businesses. You gave to agencies like Friendship House. This kind of support was also seen throughout the nation, and additional benefits were given to millions of Americans to avoid complete devastation.

People managed to maintain their housing and keep their families fed because of the financial aid offered through the COVID-19 Cares Act funding. With this additional funding people focused on how to make it through the worst pandemic we have ever faced. Shelters like the New Castle County Hope Center were able to open, while businesses and nonprofits continued serving. However, as the urgent response to the pandemic ceases, so do the benefits millions have relied on to keep them afloat.

Our nation is trying to move from surviving the COVID-19 pandemic to rebuilding and recovering. This will be an arduous task for the millions of people about to lose their Cares Act benefits. From the additional assistance they have been receiving from the extra unemployment benefit, to the moratorium on evictions, our community is about to fall off a huge benefits cliff. There is not enough of a net to catch everyone.

In preparation for this significant decrease in assistance, I am asking for your help as we prepare ourselves to grow the net. We are committed to researching which agencies have funding available, what other resources exist, and how much we have to give. The numbers of those experiencing homelessness have already increased – we cannot let these numbers continue to rise. Will you help us?

You can be the reason a family maintains a roof over their head while on the brink of another school year beginning. You can ensure our supplies are at record highs as people’s access to food decreases. Your donation will make the difference for someone experiencing homelessness to find their way home. You can be the answer to someone’s prayer. Please consider a donation today.

Your friend,

Kim Eppehimer
Executive Director

The Top Dog and James – A Fines and Fees Story

“He is the Top Dog,” James, a Hope Center resident, said about his dog Scruffy (pictured left). James and Scruffy moved into the NCC Hope Center in December and have been a welcomed presence. The two are frequently seen in the lobby interacting with staff and other residents. James has been chronically homeless most of his adult life and has had an ongoing relationship with Friendship House for over 20 years.

As the country shut down in response to COVID-19, many individuals found themselves presented with obstacles they have never had to deal with before, James was among them. He found himself without a job, without an ID, and facing barriers he didn’t know existed.

While James attempted to apply for the stimulus check in the early months of the pandemic, he was consistently rejected. Left with few options, James and Scruffy were resigned to living in a tent. When the Hope Center opened in December we screened James to see if he’d be interested in entering this temporary shelter. Within the week, the two moved into the Hope Center in time to escape a snowstorm. FH staff members continue to work closely with James and Scruffy. We provide them with case management, support, and access to many other on-site resources. This includes resources for Scruffy through our partnership with Faithful Friends (click here to read about this partnership), ensuring that the two are not separated.

While working with us, James discovered he had a minor outstanding court fee from the 90’s. This fee was the barrier keeping him from obtaining his ID, his stimulus check, receiving disability, and finding a job. For 24 years, James did not know he had this fine holding him back. So, we stepped in to assist.

Because of your support and in partnership with the Campaign to End Debtor’s Prison, we have been able to expand our Financial Assistance program to include a Fines and Fees Fund. We work with almost 4,000 people every year who are experiencing various levels of homelessness. Some of these individuals do not have the financial stability to pay a financial burden that accompanies an infraction, violation, or misdemeanor. Some are even unaware of the fees that are attached to them. When the problem continues to be unresolved, a warrant for one’s arrest can ensue.

James sat down with FH case managers in the spring of 2021, and through the Fines and Fees Fund we were able to assist him. Using the fund, we paid this fine that was preventing him from obtaining basic necessities needed to live a self sufficient life. James reflected on working with FH during his time at the Hope Center, he commented the staff was, “Awesome as always.”

James and Scruffy continue to stay at the Hope Center while they work on their way to permanent housing. “Better than the tent, no complaints,” James added about their stay at the Hope Center.

Ultimately, James said he was grateful for FH and the Hope Center. James and Scruffy were given, “opportunities [they] didn’t have living in his tent.”

Your loving support has aided us to begin breaking the cycle of homelessness caused by court issued fines for a person living in poverty. Your donations enable us to help individuals and families, like James and Scruffy, through the Fines and Fees Fund.

The Story of My Survival

Sharon Lee Crouse is what I was named on April 17, 1975. I grew up in New Jersey with hard-working parents and two older siblings. I had a happy childhood, but as I got older, things started to change. By the age of 12, I started smoking marijuana. Although I was smoking in high school, I made sure I graduated. I had my first child, Kyla, at the age of 19 followed by my second, Ralph, at the age of 23. Soon after the birth of Ralph, I was diagnosed with Bipolar II disorder and severe depression. I began taking prescribed medication, but it only made matters worse. I began isolating myself from my family and locking myself in my bedroom, which led to an even deeper depression.

I began self-medicating with pain pills, prescription stimulants, and cocaine. I spent more time high and in my bedroom than I spent with my family. By the age of 30, my ex-husband introduced me to crystal meth. For the next 15 years, I was in denial about my addiction. I didn’t want any help, even after numerous pleas from my children. My ex-husband played a huge role in my addiction because he was my supplier. I was so deep into my addiction that I didn’t know who I was. I went from having a functional household to having a dysfunctional household with no water, food, or electricity because of my addiction. I even used my son’s phone to set up dates with different men to support my addiction. I became suicidal and was admitted into different mental health facilities. I eventually became homeless.

January 4, 2020, was the last day I used. January 5, 2020, is the day I finally accepted help. I checked myself into a short-term rehab facility in New Jersey. By the end of January, I was transferred to a long-term facility in Wilmington and resided there until August when I graduated from the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center. I moved into Friendship House Transitional Housing on August 31, 2020, and I started as a recovering addict, eager to take back everything I had lost. My journey was not easy, but I had new realistic goals that I set for myself and a strong support system. Shawn and Danielle played a major part in my recovery. They accepted me with open arms and treated me like family. I will forever be grateful. Shawn helped me get a job at the Clothing Bank where I was introduced to Ms. Cheryl and Timeeka; both great women who motivate me even more. Not only did Timeeka train me as an employee, but she also helped me learn to love myself and know my worth. Ms. Cheryl always keeps a positive attitude that I grew to love and she saw my potential long before I did. I believe everything happens for a reason and the time I spent with Shawn and Danielle brought out the best in me.

I, Sharon D’Antonio, am proud to announce that I am 15 months clean as of April 5, 2021!

Friendship House got me thriving instead of surviving! I’m enjoying every minute of it. Sometimes I wonder where I would be without the support of my children and Friendship House and then I realize I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else but here to share my story. My children have forgiven me and we have a great relationship. I just recently started thanking myself because without my mistakes, addiction, and struggles, I wouldn’t have met the wonderful people in my life today.

Sharon D’Antonio

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