In the winter of 1986-87, Friendship House first opened its doors as a thrift store to serve the growing community of individuals experiencing homelessness in Wilmington, Delaware. New Castle Presbytery operated the thrift store with the help of Meeting Ground, a Maryland-based non-profit. FH started to gain recognition among the community and the needs of those it served began to grow. In response, FH became a resource available to the community 24 hours a day. Many came to FH at night, seeking shelter from the cold. During the day, it became a place for assistance and advocacy, as an increasing number of individuals and families sought to find a place to call home.
On April 1, 1987, the city fire marshal ordered FH to close until it was fully licensed as a shelter. In 1988, in partnership with Meeting Ground, Immanuel Highlands Church, Westminster Presbyterian Church, First & Central Presbyterian Church, and several committed individuals, FH formally incorporated as Friendship House, Inc. (a Delaware nonprofit corporation with 501(c) (3) status). Although the thrift store never reopened, FH began building a network of programs and services, such as our Sunday Breakfast.
Since then, FH has opened new locations and added programs to support those experiencing homelessness and houselessness in Delaware. Its workforce includes about 25 employees and more than 1,000 volunteers. Its community partners include about 100 faith communities, 45 schools, and 150 businesses and organizations. FH operates a men’s and women’s Transitional Housing Program serving about 75 individuals a year. Its four Empowerment Centers serve over 250 clients daily and assist over 3,000 households with Financial Assistance annually. Working with local faith communities FH manages Code Purple in New Castle County. Its Clothing Bank distributes more than 100,000 pounds of quality clothing, offers employment training to over 30 women, and distributes school uniform items to about 10 local schools annually.
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