Friendship House

Coordinator: Linda Neel

IMG_5221.JPGFriendship House is a ministry to homeless people: men, women, and the children who live with them. Friendship House is not a single place: it is a system of graduated services and expectations that encourages and enables homeless people to regain their sense of place in the world, deal with the issues that caused their homelessness and estrangement, and reclaim their independence.

Begun 20 years ago by a consortium of local churches, Friendship House offers an array of supports and services ranging from a cup of coffee and a respectful greeting to job training and transitional housing.

Friendship House now operates one emergency shelter for elderly men and 9 halfway houses serving seventy homeless individuals and families on any given night. Its two daytime centers for men and women serve over 200 homeless clients daily. Its clothing ministry-The Clothing Bank of Delaware-distributes more than 13,000 pounds of quality used clothing monthly through its network of more than 200 distribution centers and offers employment training to over 30 women yearly.

In addition, Friendship House began a collaborative ministry with the Newark Homeless Coalition to form the Newark Empowerment Center housed in the Newark United Methodist Church.

Red Clay has decided to partner with Friendship House through financial support and also to participate in sending volunteers to the Clothing Bank to sort clothes, serving breakfasts and dinners to the homeless at the Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew, 720 N. Orange Street, Wilmington, preparing and serving soup and sandwiches for Code Purple when the wind chill factor is below 15 degrees in the winter, serving meals for the homeless at Epiphany House and co-sponsoring the Women’s Christmas Party. Red Clay’s Vacation Bible School collects paper products for Friendship House.

Personal Testimony

Contributed by Paul Neutz

I have always gotten a good feeling from cooking and serving lunch at the Emanuel Dining Room but I recently found another Mission calling that brought me into contact with a group of homeless people that made me feel that I really made a difference. I do not want any readers to feel that EDR is not an extremely important Mission but I think that serving breakfast and dinner at The Episcopal Church of Sts. Andrew and Matthew for Friendship House allowed for a closer contact with the people that were being helped.

My first experience with this group began on a Saturday afternoon at Sts. Andrew and Matthew, in the church kitchen, where enough ham and cheese quiche was prepared (except for cooking) to feed 150 people. Returning to the church on Sunday morning, before the sun came up, was an extremely humbling experience as I was able to meet and shake hands with part of a group of 120 people. Once you talk to them you quickly find that they are no different than you and me except for the fact that they have fallen on hard times for one reason or the other and are less fortunate as a result. It is quickly made clear that most of them are trying to dig themselves out of their problems and simply need a little assistance. Whether the issue is drug, alcohol or economic they all deserve a chance to turn things around. Most are working hard at it. So providing a good meal to them is the least we could do.

On Tuesday evening of the following week I had a closer experience with a group of 26 homeless men who live in a shelter in the basement of Sts. Andrew and Matthew. After preparing chili at RCCPC four of us went into Wilmington to the Mission and served dinner to the 26 men. These men live in the shelter at night while working to get their lives back on track. These men were extremely grateful for their meal and showed it with words, smiles, and open conversation. Again I must say they are no different than us except they have fallen on hard times. They have an incentive to reestablish their lives and follow the rules of the Mission as there is a waiting list to get in and if you do not follow the rules you are out. We found out that they all like hot dogs and baked beans but they never get it so our next rotation we are going to surprise them with their favorite dinner.

Why not share this positive experience for yourself? Contact the Mission and Outreach Group and make yourself available for the next time we help these folks. Believe me you will feel good about your involvement. If you do not, then you have a problem.

Personal Testimony 

Contributed by Bonnie Hudson

On Father’s Day, my husband Kove and I met four others at 6:30AM in the lower parking lot of the church. We drove to the Episcopal church of Saints Andrew and Mathew on 8th and Shipley. This church is part of Friendship House which serves breakfast every Sunday to homeless men and struggling individuals. We didn’t know what to expect but were willing to give it a try, even though it was very early in the morning. We arrived at 7:00 AM and many individuals were already seated and waiting to be served. Upon entering the kitchen we were cheerfully greeted by two men, previously homeless themselves, in charge of serving the meal. We put fruit into cups, placed quiche’ on paper plates, filled glasses with juice and served those patiently sitting at the tables. We were finished serving by 7:25. We found the men to be very orderly and appreciative of what we were doing. Most cleared their place before leaving then we finished clearing the tables, wiped them down and were finished by 7:45. The church is very clean and is run efficiently. Don’t hesitate to volunteer to make the quiche’ on Saturday afternoon or serve the breakfast on Sunday morning. We were very pleased to be part of this mission to help those who are less fortunate and we are looking forward to serving again.