Category Archives: Newsletters

Delaware Homelessness

July Newsletter: Against All Odds

In July we sent our first electronic version of Against All Odds. You can see it in its entirety by clicking here. To get our newsletter sent to you via email you can sign up by clicking here.

DSC_1058

I recently came across a quote from Sister Mary Lou Kownacki which said, "There isn't anyone you couldn't love once you've heard their story." Of the many people who come in and out of the Friendship House doors, it is their stories and their names that stay with us. Everything is a story - whether fiction or nonfiction, whether you agree or disagree - it all starts with a story.

Thousands of years ago before we were able to capture stories onto paper, stories were verbally passed on through the generations. The Friendship House staff still spends much of their time listening to our clients' stories. Whether it is the first encounter or the hundredth, there is still something to be learned through listening and something to learn through retelling.

It is our mission to walk with someone on their journey without asking them to be something they are not. Our desire is that each person we encounter will let us into their life through their words. What better way to know someone then to listen, with our ears and our hearts.

This newsletter, our first electronic version of Against All Odds,  is just that for you. It is stories from the women at our Women's Day Center: staff, volunteers, clients, and friends. We invite you to read and open your hearts to the stories of what they have to share.

Kim Eppehimer
Assistant Administrator

You Don't Have to Walk Alone

I know people say life is an experience. I must say, they did not lie. I thought everything finally was going right for my family and myself. But let me tell you that was a fairy tale.

One day I wasn't feeling like myself, I started feeling tired all the time. Days became weeks, weeks became months and I was not getting any better. Then one day I went to the hospital got a complete work up, then a week later got a call for me to come to the clinic where I had my testing done. I was a little scared but I went and once there I found out I had AIDS, not HIV. I was full blown. I was devastated, but I acted like this could not happen to me and I went home and pretended it was not true.

Let me tell you that truth will make itself known and I got so sick I could not eat anything and drank only fluids. I went from 160 to 89 pounds. My sister picked me up and rushed me to the hospital - thank God - because I was knocking on death's door. I stayed in the hospital for over a week until they were able to get me stabilized. They sent me to a good clinic to help me get my meds, so now I take a lot of meds and because I waited my viral load is so low that it's going to be a hard and long road.

As I started getting better I still went through a lot of problems with my health. I was in and out of the hospital with rare pulmonary ailments that normal people would not get. I continue to have infections and pneumonia. I now find myself homeless and no one to reach out to, or to tell my suffering to, because I am still being judged and labeled.

I went back to a place where I have always gotten help and was not judged. Even when I made mistakes they were always nice to me and told me things I needed to do. Friendship Women's Day Center and their staff has helped me with places to go and agencies to see so that I hope to find housing and try to get healthy. I really appreciate all they have done to help with my meds and just someone to talk to who don't treat me any differently. As I close, the one important thing I want people to know is don' think this is something that cannot happen to you, you are no more immune than I am and you hear what has happened to me. Be careful and always get checked - it may save your life.

LD - A Friendship House Friend

From A Graduate’s Daughter

From A Resident’s Daughter

Trudi From HeatherThis is for my mother, Trudi Houser, who lost her battle with addiction January 16, 2006.
For years since then, Mother’s Day was a hard day for me, but this year I am showing my appreciation to my mom for the person she shaped me into. Mother’s day was a hard day for her, too.  She would always get upset around this day and often spent it apologizing to me. So I guess, even before her passing, this day hasn’t been one without emotion.

 

There are not enough words to describe the person my mother was. I truly believe with the highs and lows of addiction and recovery, you learn every bit of who that person is. I began looking within myself and realizing who I am, too. I realized addiction affects the entire family. Our separation caused us both great pain, but we accepted the fact that her being unable to raise me was not to be looked at negatively. The moment this acceptance happened, our entire relationship changed. My mom no longer spent her time with me apologizing, trying to make up for the wrongs, or comparing my relationship to her versus the one I had with my grandmother, who had been raising me. Her acceptance allowed her to focus on the present and the future. She revisited the past only to educate me on what led her to addiction. This allowed us to refocus our attention and strength on goals we could achieve, and not obsess over the past or fantasize about what the present could have been.

 

My mom once told me to “make all of this worth something” which I did for myself. I followed my personal dream of becoming a Registered Nurse, now working as a pediatric nurse. In my journey, I took the opportunity to also educate myself about addiction. I had to understand addiction from the medical and scientific perspective, in addition to have witnessed addiction and recovery for nearly my entire life.  I have read many studies on addiction and have learned that compared to other areas of healthcare, addiction is a gray area that needs further research.

 

Over the years since her passing, I’ve revisited her letters, learned about my mom through family and friends, and remembered her life lessons and the impact that her life and death had on me. I have learned that sharing experiences with others lessons the pain, it shows courage to share the powerful hold experiences have over us, and it teaches you and others much about similarities in life.  The common theme throughout her addiction was carrying the baggage of negativity, the same one that led her to addiction. She was looking for relief from the negatives, and thought she had found it in drugs. But as she used, her problems only grew and weighed her down further.

 

My mom once found herself at Friendship House, eager for a new opportunity at life. I am forever grateful that programs like this exist, to help those in need and provide support while starting a new beginning. It was inspirational to me to visit recently and speak with the women there. In only a few minutes of meeting with them, I remembered how beautiful recovery is, and how much strength it took them to get to where they were at that moment.Trudy_EH

 

It is time for me to pass this along to others. My story doesn’t end the way it should have for my mom, but if it can teach another addict a lesson, it can mean something for her. She dreamed of being able to speak to others about addiction, and I vow to fufill that for her by what she taught me directly and indirectly about a ddiction and sharing our story with others one day.

 

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mom’s, may you find peace in your day & appreciate the woman you are, as well as honoring the other strong women in your life.
– Heather Houser Bahel

March Newsletter: Anniversary of Housing

In March we sent a newsletter celebrating our Transitional Housing. You can see it in its entirety by clicking here.

Our Transitional Housing program started 25 years ago on Ash Wednesday when Friendship House and Westminster Presbyterian Church joined together to open Burton House, one of the earliest transitional housing programs in New Castle County. Burton House wasn’t very impressive – just a two-bedroom apartment above the church garage where employed homeless men could live for free for 90 days while they saved their money and worked their program. It soon became obvious to everyone that the transition from one way of living to another was not that simple.

Burton House

Most homeless folks are dealing with more than just the loss of housing. In a real sense they are displaced persons striving to figure out where they fit and how to rebuild their often broken lives. The transition is not just about a new job or a cheap place to stay. It is the process of healing old wounds, learning new skills and sometimes overcoming one’s personal demons. People on such a journey need a safe, supportive home and a community of like-minded friends.

Learning from our residents, Friendship House has continued to expand and modify its transitional housing program. Today it consists of eleven different sites (six for women and five for men). Residents that complete the full program have received a year of subsidized housing, are able to eliminate a significant portion of their outstanding debt and can save up to $2,500. The most successful graduates also use their time in the program to continue their education, develop new life skills and advance their career.

In the twenty-five years since Burton House first opened its doors, 1,698 residents (999 men/ 697 women) have participated in the Friendship House Transitional Housing Program. Some are now Friendship House staff. Many are our greatest success stories. Others have relapsed or returned to prison or died. Wherever they are on their journey, their lives and ours have been forever changed by our time together.

Bill Perkins
Executive Director and CEO

Meet Madisin: A Housing Graduate

My name is Madisin and I am a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. I was in an inpatient treatment facility when I started to look into the Friendship House Program. It was toward the end of my stay in treatment and I needed to think about what I was going to do when I left and, more importantly, where I was going to live. It was important to find a safe place to continue working on my recovery. After an interview with Friendship House, I was accepted and moved into the first phase on September 22, 2014. Ever since then I have really felt myself grow into a successful young woman.

When I was in my addiction, I didn’t really know how to be responsible. I was very selfish and self-centered. Yes, I knew right from wrong but never wanted to do the right thing. I’ve noticed growth in myself here and there but I really noticed a big change when I celebrated my 21st birthday this year. My mom’s birthday is February 28; my brother’s birthday is March 5; my birthday is March 7. Normally, by February 27, my attitude was, “Forget every one else’s birthday! What are we doing for mine? What presents are you getting me?” I was such a brat. This year, however, I can honestly say that the best present I got was that all of my family said they were proud of me. Yeah, presents are nice but nothing material can compare to the gratitude I have gained. With guidance of the staff here, I was able to regain some structure in my life. I pay my bills on time; I have money in a savings account; I have a full-time job. I do my laundry; I go grocery shopping. My apartment in Phase 3 of this program is clean.

I could go on and on but most important, I’m honest and trustworthy. I know all of these things are “normal” things that young adults should know how to do, but these are all things I never did, nor did I care to do when I was in my addiction. I have grown into a responsible young woman and I am prepared for the transition into the real world and the next chapter of my life. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Read more