A Sanctuary In Time Of Need
302-652-8278 • fax: 302-652-8641
Andrew’s Place was founded in the winter of 1989 at the initiative of the vestry of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church to provide emergency winter sanctuary to homeless, elderly men. What began as dozen army cots in the church basement has evolved over the years into a full service emergency shelter that offers its guests both hospitality and empowerment. Throughout the winter, elderly guests are offered shelter in a safe, alcohol/drug free environment. Friendship House case managers are also on site each evening to work with those residents ready and willing to address the underlying causes of their homeless condition.
Since its opening, Andrew’s Place has served more than five hundred individuals. At a per diem cost of less than $12 per person, Friendship House is able to provide twenty-five residents each night with a hot shower, a home-cooked meal, a warm bed, and a safe place to spend the night. For some (10%), Andrew’s Place has been a loving sanctuary where they could die with dignity. For many (40%), Andrew’s Place is an emergency winter haven that enables them to survive another year on the streets of Wilmington. For an increasing number (50%), however, the shelter’s supportive communal atmosphere has served as the catalyst needed for them to re-establish themselves in independent housing.
The guest register of Andrew’s Place defies any easy classification of either the homeless or the elderly. "Tinker, Lawyer, Indian Chief" does not come close to describing the diversity of the residents’ backgrounds or careers. With the aging of the baby boomers, an increasing number of the "elderly" are men in their early fifties – that time of life more and more of their housed peers are describing as "late middle age". We have indeed had our lawyer – John – who showed up at Andrew’s Place in a cashmere overcoat with all his possession in the trunk of a leased Lexis; and our Indian chief – Sonny – whose body was found one morning floating in the Christina River; and if not a tinker, then chorus of sheet metal workers, crane operators and welders. We have also had our artists, singers, teachers, college students, farmers, salesmen and veterans of our nation’s various wars. Our oldest residents have included Uncle Francis, whose body still bears the scars he acquired as a young infantry man in the Pacific Theater of the Second World War, and Jerry, an 86 year old Willy Loman in pajamas and bedroom slippers, who walked out of a Florida nursing home, borrowed a car and went in search of his old customers. Over the years not every resident has been grateful or even civil. Some remain strangers until the day they leave. Each, however, is and always will be a child of God and therefore a gift to all who offer them hospitality.
In 2002,Friendship House began to also use Andrew’s Place to offer short-term emergency shelter to homeless, single men recently released from residential treatment programs. The shelter currently operates from October Through April and serves twenty-four residents nightly.