Category Archives: Winter Sanctuary

Winter Programming

Each winter, Friendship House (FH) provides additional programming to give those most vulnerable more options during the coldest times of the year. These services include our Saturday Morning Hospitality at First & Central Presbyterian Church, which creates an opportunity for those experiencing houselessness in Wilmington to seek warmth every Saturday morning. This then provides a place for a person to go every morning during the winter months as our Wilmington Empowerment Center is always open in the mornings Sunday through Friday. In addition to Saturday Morning Hospitality, all five of our Empowerment Centers extend their normal hours on the coldest days.

Our Winter Seasonal Programming also includes Code Purple which FH offers in New Castle County when overnight temperatures feel like 20 degrees or below. When the temperature dips this low, the outdoor conditions can become life-threatening. With the support of our community, which provides volunteers, food, and space, we can open for overnight emergency shelter in Wilmington, Newark, and Middletown. This service is critical and needed in our community.

We have hosted 8 Code Purples already this season, and expect more cold nights to come. When asked what Code Purple is like, Sajhi, a Code Purple guest, replied “It’s a blessing. Some say people don’t care, these people care.” Other guests, Kauhdria & Derek, shared “Everyone is treated the same.”

Joe, who frequents both of our Wilmington winter services, shared, “It’s the only place open, I come to get out of the cold, get something to eat. [The] best part is just being able to come in.” Anthony shared, “I come because there is no other place to go after being put out of the shelter. I come for coffee, food and to recharge my phone. The volunteers treat us as people. They respect us and talk with us.”

We are so grateful for our community and faith partners who make these services available.


Saturday Morning Hospitality

During the winter months of December through February, FH opens every Saturday morning at First & Central Presbyterian Church for hospitality to create a space for people in Wilmington to visit. This makes it so FH does morning hospitality 7 days a week, as we are open year-round Sunday morning for a grab-n-go breakfast at our Wilmington Empowerment Center located at Sts. Andrew and Matthew Episcopal Church. Hospitality is an important part of our Empowerment Center programming. It includes basic things like coffee, water, and access to a bathroom. It also includes another critical item: community. Hospitality at any FH location is sometimes the only time during the day a person will feel accepted and someone is happy to see them enter the door.
To a person living on the street or at a shelter in Wilmington, there are very few options on weekends as many coffee shops and places of business are closed. Libraries and other public places are also closed in the early mornings when the temperatures are the coldest. Folks staying in a shelter often need to be out by 7:00 am. In late December and early January especially, it is still dark at 7 am – and the hour before dawn is often the coldest hour of the day. FH fills the gap by opening for coffee and breakfast, creating a brief but needed safe haven for people experiencing homelessness and houselessness.
We’re grateful for our partnership with First & Central Presbyterian Church to make this possible!