Category Archives: Newsletters

Covid-19 Reflection

What would you do if you woke up one morning and suddenly your bathroom was locked with a sign that said “do not enter”? And when you went to your kitchen it was also closed; everywhere you turn there are ropes closing it off, not allowing you to access food.

When Delaware and states across the nation declared a state of emergency and required places of business to shut down, this is what happened to people experiencing street level homelessness.

With little to no warning, their life lines were closed to them.

One of the things I appreciate about Friendship House is our ability to move swiftly and respond to urgent matters. This was our time to step in. Within those first few days one of our immediate calls to action was to find public bathroom access for people who were experiencing homelessness. How were they expected to not only take care of personal needs but perform the most basic request of all of us: hand washing? Within a few days, with the direct assistance of New Castle County, there were port-a-potties with hand washing stations scattered across Wilmington, Newark, and even Millcreek where there used to be access to inside bathrooms.

Knowing we had to pull back our own accessibility to people, we requested financial assistance through the Delaware Community Foundation’s strategic response to COVID-19 fund and the United Way’s Delaware Does More fund. We were awarded money from both funds to help people experiencing homelessness in Wilmington and Newark safely quarantine through hotel assistance. With their help, we were able to house over 100 people who otherwise would have remained forgotten and invisible as their world closed around them. Understanding the funding stream for these hotel vouchers was limited, our next battle was to convince the state they had to take over payment of these rooms. On our final day of funding, that happened.

In Newark, food pantries and free food services became null. We did the only thing we knew how – we stepped in. With the help of our worshiping community, and many restaurants and businesses, we have been able to feed 45 people lunch and dinner in Newark daily. For most of them we drove the food to the hotel to serve. Through our masks and gloved hands, we continued to find connections with each person.

In Wilmington, when food options became scarce, we provided a cold meal to go with the usual morning coffee. We gave out over 600 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and 1,300 hard boiled eggs weekly – fully donated by our community.

You won’t find these accomplishments from Friendship House in the news. Friendship House has a small but mighty coalition of people who care deeply and are determined to serve. We do it because we can. We do it because we want to. We do it because we are needed. We do it because every person deserves a place they can call home.

More than half of our staff remains working on site, or “on the front lines”, to ensure our guests at every location are noticed, cared for, and receive essential services. Those who could work from home continue to give and work in any way they can. Friendship House may have closed some of its physical locations – but we never closed. And as we reopen what was closed, we do so with our guests and staff safety in mind.

During this time of uncertainty and fear, you continued to be there for us. Your gifts and donations brought joy and relief to us each and every time. We are so grateful and humbled by the love and support you have bestowed upon us.

Friendship House was founded on the values and principles of Jesus of Nazareth, which include walking alongside those who are the most marginalized, without judgement. This includes anyone who is feeling isolated, scared, or lost. We continue these principles today. No matter the reason they may be experiencing homelessness, we are here for them. 

Thinking back to March 12, when the state of emergency started, what was it like for you when your normal day got turned upside down?

Although we all have been in the same storm, the boats we are in are not the same. The Friendship House boat stays strong with your support as we search for other boats about to sink. We reach out to offer an oar or a new sail in order for that boat to stay afloat. The storm is not over – and there are many boats about to be plummeted by a wave. We know we can weather this storm. And with your help, we know we can help others weather the storm, too. Please, continue your prayers for our staff, guests, residents, and those who have yet found their way home. If you are able, please consider a financial donation supporting our mission. 

Thank you.

– Kim Eppehimer (Executive Director)

COVID-19 Update | April 10, 2020

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Friendship House has remained open to offer emergency assistance to our community. We are amazed how the numbers of those in need continue to increase. We are so grateful for the support of our community and we are especially grateful for your desire to help us serve. Even if you are not physically with us, you are helping by following the Governor’s orders by staying home and keeping physical distance when out. You are helping by keeping us and those we serve in your prayers.

We do have occasional needs for specific items. We are being careful on how and when we accept these for the safety of our staff and guests. Therefore, please only send in donations in response to our staff’s direct request. We will give a detailed list of current needs with drop off explanations to people who have offered their help.

One of the most important things you can do is offer monetary donations. Friendship House is committed to the well being of our staff and the needs of our community. We have not decreased the pay for any full time employee. In addition, we are getting requests daily for financial assistance and emergency shelter requests due to COVID-19. A record number of Delawareans have already submitted for unemployment. Many of those are on the brink of homelessness. Although the state is doing everything it can to avoid a financial crisis, it is inevitable that it will not be enough. This is where Friendship House’s ability to fill gaps is critical. We are needed by our neighbors. You can help. Please consider a donation to help us help those most in need.

Thank you for all you do for us!

Black vs. Timeeka

Timeeka is what my mother named me when I was born into this world. But by age 15, my nickname was BLACK when I entered the prison system. Growing up as a child I had everything I needed except my mother and father. Although I had loving caring grandparents, I always wanted attention and love from my biological parents. Growing up the oldest sibling was bitter sweet. I was in charge of the household while my grandparents worked long hours. It was sweet because I learned how to take care of my siblings and was able to put a smile on their faces even though we were all struggling. It was bitter because it meant I missed out on my teenage years. No school formals, no after school activities, and no hobbies because I was more focused on my siblings than myself.

I was considered an adult before my sweet 16 birthday and nothing was sweet about that year.

At the age of fifteen, I was sentenced to 90 days at Grace Cottage Facility for teenagers. I was the youngest in the building. I heard many different stories from the other teenagers and it made me want to be just like them even though it was criminal behavior. To be honest, I was more comfortable in the system than at home because I was able to be myself while incarcerated. I didn’t have any responsibilities for no one but myself and I found peace. Once released with no support system, I started shoplifting for myself and siblings. It gave me money in my pockets and I was able to support my siblings. We were no longer singled out or teased by others. We were no longer considered homeless. In 2009 I was sentenced to 3 years in prison for a shoplifting charge that turned into a robbery for using excessive force. You would think that after 3 years I would have learned from my past mistakes, but the system just helped me analyze more ways to get away with criminal behavior. Then, my grandmother passed away in 2012, 10 months after I was released. I had no Mom or Dad as support – just me, my siblings and a criminal background. I turned to the streets for money and support. January 1, 2017 I gave birth to stillborn twins. I became depressed, and emotionally scared. I started self-medicating myself with ecstasy pills just to be happy and less depressed but that did not help my inner spirits. In 2018 I was sentenced to 2 years for aggravated possession.

Meet Timeeka…

June 2019, I was sent to work release at the Hazel D. Plant Women’s Treatment Facility. Immediately I started working at the Friendship House Clothing Bank. I loved everything about the place. The way they helped others, the way they talked to me and most importantly I learned who I was really born to be. I can’t explain the energy in writing but let’s just say I felt the love, peace and support I never could find elsewhere. God works in mysterious ways. Whoever would have thought my last mistake would be my testimony! Today I am part of the Friendship House family. I am now a full time employee at the Clothing Bank where I help women each day accomplish their short and long term goals. I’m now a consistent key player in my  brother’s life and school activities. I’m no longer taking risks to provide for myself and siblings, instead I am slowly trusting the process and allowing myself to help others step closer to their goal, as well as mine. I am happy and at peace in my life right now and I thank God and the Friendship House!

It’s not that I didn’t want to change, each time I was released from prison, I didn’t have the support system to change.

The Friendship House was my support system this go round and look at me now! Friendship House has played a major part in my change and in my journey. I am forever grateful for Ms. Cheryl, Ms. Kim and Ms. Robin. They saw the eager in me and allowed me to bring it into reality. My advice is “be patient with yourself and love yourself unconditionally regardless of your struggle.”

Yours truly,

Dear Friends,

Our mission is simple: unite people facing homelessness with loving, supportive communities they can call home. How do you do that in a time when we are expected to isolate ourselves? How do we connect someone living in a car to a job, a stable environment to live in, and a supportive community when people are losing jobs? Our environment is deeply unstable and resources are scarce.

These questions bring me back to how we, Friendship House, define community.

First, a community is wherever you call home. For many, home right now is your physical space, and those isolated in that space with you. For others, their home is our empowerment center – opened for sparse hours at a time to ensure our friends know they can come home. Maybe, though, home has expanded to be your neighborhood streets – still a space you may be confined to, but a space you may not have seen as often as you do now.

Community is how we respond to each other. I have seen hundreds of social media posts where people are offering to buy groceries or deliver medicines for people unable to get out. Others are supporting nonprofits and small businesses. I have seen and felt countless gestures of love and have witnessed support and acceptance.

Community is also uniting. It’s coming together as a collective to do the right thing for each other and for the larger group. Friendship House has been involved with the uniting of organizations of various types, coming together to protect and serve each other, including ensuring something as simple as access to public bathrooms for our most vulnerable, homeless population. Our community has grown to include the world as we unite on a common front battling such a horrendous and scary virus, sharing what works and what does not.

This pandemic is teaching us our community is the collective human race – from China, to Italy, to the United States, we are a united, loving, supportive front that will learn, adjust, and respond so the needs of the community are met. And we do this because we love. We love each other, we love our planet, and we love God. Together, that love is greater than anything else we can imagine. That is community.

Your Friend,

Kim Eppehimer (Executive Director)

Meet our New Staff!

Danielle Mass is our new Program Worker with our Transitional Housing program. She is happy to be able to make a positive impact on those in recovery, looking to find community.

Kelly Tompkins is our newest Case Manager with our Empowerment Centers, working both Wilmington and Newark, where we work with people facing homelessness every day.

Timeeka Cropper is our new Senior Warehouse Assistant at the Friendship House Clothing Bank. She brings passion for our job training program and is a great asset to our team.