Tagged in: homelessness

Edward’s Story

November 2014

On the night before Thanksgiving, arguably the biggest bar night of the year, I took my last drink. For the next several days I would lay on my couch going through all the symptoms that a cold turkey quit has to offer. The plan was to simply get myself together enough to get on a plane, train or anything and get back to Delaware.

The odds were stacked. I had less than twenty dollars to my name, no car, no contacts left to reach out to for any help, and my cell phone was a week away from termination. Even though I was living on the west coast of Florida I was in hell. One-step away from homelessness.

By the grace of God I sold everything of value in the span of a day and secured enough money to purchase a Grey Hound bus ticket from Tampa to Wilmington. I would then take a transfer bus to Kirkwood Detox and hopefully then back to Gateway. The program I had walked out of several years before when I was convinced I had alcohol beat. I took a drink less than two days after leaving that time.

Thin at best, I look back at this course as one of pure genius for it is exactly how it happened. I waited in the lobby of Kirkwood Detox for countless hours. I stayed there hoping for a spot back at Gateway for many days and then was a guest of Gateway for four months. I listened, took suggestion and followed the advice of counsel. It was my counselor that suggested Friendship House.

Friendship House was this form of “Halfway House” in the city. You had to be interviewed and if you were accepted, you would wait for an opening. It was described by my counselor as a strict, no nonsense place to get your toe back in the world. I knew that if I were truly in it for my recovery I would have to go there. My recovery was taking me to Wilmington.

It was a cold, rainy day straight out of a movie when I showed up at the doors of 8th and Madison. Things would start out rough and I would doubt my decision to come to the city and Friendship House many times. A funny thing happens in recovery when you work it. You just might not see it at first.

Looking back, the blessings and achievements I had while at Friendship House were the greatest in my recovery. They were the building blocks of my sober life. I could take the time to assimilate myself back into the world as a member of society. While there, I renewed my license, credit and more importantly my self-esteem. I found my sponsor while living there who to this day is like a father. I found a job that turned into a career, which started with the simple fact that the bus ran from Friendship House to that business’s front door. I took the bus for a year while saving for a vehicle.

Upon my Graduation from Friendship House, I took their suggestion and moved into an Oxford House. It is now arguably the strongest in the city. When there is an opening, Friendship House is first on our list to see if there are any worthy candidates.

When I chaired my two-year anniversary in AA, the room was full of men with countless sobriety. I spoke about how for me, the difference between the first year of sobriety and the second year had one distinct difference. The first year is when I got myself back and the second is when I got my stuff back. Friendship House & my Guardian Angels over there played a major role in my first year.

Edward Jarrell

Fall Newsletter

In November we sent out our annual Fall Newsletter. This is a portion of that newsletter. You can see it in its entirety by clicking here.


Spring’s Promise in Winter’s Death

Like people, non-profits have their life cycles. Ministries are born in response to specific social crises. If successful, these ministries prosper, developing effective programs and infrastructures. Whatever their level of success, however, non-profits also inevitably age. A new generation of clients with different needs and priorities come seeking help. The programs and policies once so effective become out of step with changing times. As they approach their thirtieth anniversary, many non-profits have lost their vitality and are struggling to survive. A special few, however, have made strategic planning a part of their corporate DNA and have the capacity to renew their ministry and effectively serve the next generation of people in need.

In 2017, as Friendship House celebrates thirty years as a nonprofit and I celebrate my seventieth birthday, I will step down as Executive Director. Of the four generations of homeless clients served by Friendship House over this time, Dewey’s World War II generation have almost all past away and my own Baby Boomer generation are mostly senior citizens. The two newest and fasting growing client populations are working class families and young adults under thirty-five. While survival needs of the homeless haven’t changed, the challenges impeding their recovery are new and diverse. For Friendship House to fulfill its mission to this new generation of people in need, survival is not enough.

Four years ago the Friendship House board and staff initiated a six year strategic plan of renewal and transformation. In response to a dramatic increase in the number of suburban homeless and at risk clients, Friendship House re-engineered its programs to serve all of New Castle County. Rather than short-term crisis interventions, these modified programs emphasize empowerment and ongoing communal support. Recognizing that it needed to recruit a new, younger generation of staff and volunteers, Friendship House expanded its intern program and introduced new volunteer opportunities for students and families. To develop the next leadership team, Friendship House recruited and hired new middle managers to understudy with the current senior staff. Internally, Friendship House dramatically upgraded its properties, equipment, infrastructure and digital footprint.

As its thirtieth anniversary approaches, Friendship House courses with new life, blessed with a new generation of passionate ministers ready to bring good news to their peers.

Bill Perkins
CEO and Executive Director

An Intern’s Story

I can start by saying that I wouldn’t be writing this if I never found Friendship House. God led me to the Women’s Day Center two years ago whe n I was homeless and living in my addiction. After
recently being released from jail I had nothing to my name and nowhere to go. I wanted to live the “right way”, clean and legally, but I had no idea where to start. In my past struggles with my addiction, feeling unaccepted and lacking a sense of security and support was always my downfall; I found these things at the Women’s Center. I was living at Hope House and every morning, going to the Women’s Center was as much part of my routine as eating breakfast. I would meet up with the other clients for a cup of coffee before we all went off to an NA meeting or to apply for jobs. That is how I met my best friend and learned about all of the other agencies and programs in Wilmington that contributed to my success.

Two years later, I now have a nice apartment, a car, a steady management job, financial security, my sobriety, friends, and I am about to graduate Annacollege. I wouldn’t have any of this if I didn’t have the other clients and case workers at the Women’s Day Center to support and guide me from the beginning of my journey to independence. I chose to intern at Friendship House because I wanted to give back to the people who helped me the most and show clients that it is possible to recover from whatever situation they may be struggling with. Now, when I meet clients that don’t believe they can succeed or think it’s impossible to get their life back, I can tell them my story. There is no better feeling than to be able to help someone with what I learned from my experiences. Every day of my internship is something new and exciting; I get to meet and help new people every day and follow return clients through their journey.  I am amazed by the level of dedication from every employee and volunteer at Friendship House; I can’t imagine what the thousands of clients and  I would have done without them.

Anna Conaway
Fall Friendship House Intern

Read more