A story from one of our housing graduates, now part time employee at the Clothing Bank.
I left it all behind, everything familiar and comfortable to me was left in New Jersey: family, friends, home, addictions. I started over in Delaware.
Nearly penniless, jobless and just completing another program in Delaware where I gained a greater understanding of God and faith, I needed a safe place to live a clean and sober life. I knew I needed an additional program, something greater to keep me on my journey to an independent and clean life that I had started in Delaware. Grace led me to Friendship House.
I knew nothing about Friendship House but applied for the Transitional Housing Program. At my first interview with Marcy Perkins I knew I was going to be okay. I had no ID, no social security card, no birth certificate, NOTHING! What I remember most of that meeting with Marcy was what she said when she learned that I had no documentation of my life. She simply said, “We can help you”. I arrived at the Epiphany House on February 15, 2016. This is when my new life began.
This was not my first attempt to be clean. I have struggled with addictions since the 80’s and attempted recovery many times in the past. Recovery is difficult; it takes a lot of work. When you lose belief in yourself, have no money or family, no job, do not recognize your skill sets, and have no self-worth, it is easier to” just use.” This is where I was when I left New Jersey and made my way across the bridge to Delaware, to my new beginning.
Walking into the Friendship House housing program, I found a safe haven. It was as if my own mother’s arms were wrapped around me. The housing staff spent hours getting my ID, social security card, birth certificate and marriage certificate. If that was not enough, they help me gain employment at the Clothing Bank of Delaware. My first paying job in a very long time.
All of a sudden, I began to feel like a human again! I was contributing to my community and society in a meaningful and constructive way!
Many events happened to help transform me. Meeting with my caseworker, Maryanne, every day to share what I did and late night talks with Shirley helped me gain confidence that I was capable of making good choices. After a while, I was comfortable enough to meet with her once weekly. I was taught to budget (which was not fun for Maryanne) but it paid off big for me.
The staff would leave the office on Friendship House budget review days. Working at the Clothing Bank of Delaware, I felt like a valued employee. Working with Kathy, I was not judged for my past; I was valued for the skills I brought to the job (I had forgotten I had skills)!
I also learned how to communicate better because of all of the Friendship House programs. I found I was no longer angry at the world. Everywhere I turned there was someone from Friendship House working to help me: everyone in housing, Marcy, Maryanne, Shirley and Shawn, board members Sharon and Kay, the Clothing Bank, Marc, Kathy and the Main Office, Roxane, Mr. Bill and Kim. It just seemed impossible that this many people want to see me succeed and truly care about me.
The entire process helped me to obtain my new job at BJ’s Wholesale Club. But, it was no secret that I really wanted to work at Friendship House. If I could work at Friendship House, I, too, could possibly make a difference in the life of another person.
Life has a funny way of working out when you start doing the right things and make the next right decision. I graduated from the Friendship House in January 24, 2017. Now I have INDEPENDENT housing, a savings account, a checking account and a 401K plan! As I said earlier, that time spent with Maryanne paid off! (My apologies to Maryanne for being difficult). Then to add a cherry on top, I was invited to interview for an open position at the Clothing Bank of Delaware. So, I now work at BJ’s and at the Clothing Bank of Delaware.
My journey gets better every day. I am not saying that there are not difficult times but I know that I have the strength and courage to get through any challenge. I have reunited with my family in New Jersey. They are very proud of the person I am today. I have gained a new family in Wilmington, Delaware. Marc Marcus, upon my hire at the Clothing Bank, ended our meeting by saying that what mattered more than the job I was taking was me. I was worth the investment that Friendship House had made in me over the past year.
I am brought to tears (ask anyone in Friendship House) each time I talk about my journey at Friendship House. I am in awe of the path God has laid out for me. My soul is filled with gratitude and thanks to Friendship House for reminding me that God is not done with me. I am here, I can make a difference and I matter.
~ Eileen Taylor