A Sanctuary In Time Of Need
302-652-8278 • fax: 302-652-8641
This 16th season of winter weekend hospitality has seen an increase in the number of homeless men and women seeking sanctuary at the various hospitality centers. Saturday morning hospitality at First & Central averages 70 homeless guests. Each Sunday from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM, Trinity Episcopal Church allows Friendship House to host 30 to 40 persons in the church’s A.A. meeting room.
Although majority of the weekend clients remain homeless street men , there has been a significant increase in the number weekend women clients. Besides providing sanctuary from the elements and a hot cup of coffee, the church volunteers, who have made a monthly commitment to the ministry, create a communal presence that gives folks the sense of being welcomed by the church and not simply being given sanctuary in a church.
Code Purple Sanctuary:
For the past four winters Friendship House has expanded its night-time sanctuary program to include "Code Purple" night sanctuary in Wilmington and Newark. In Delaware, Code Purple weather is understood to be whenever the night-time temperature falls below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. While every winter night is a hardship for those without proper clothing, shelter and warmth, there are at least a dozen times each winter when the weather is so severe that extended exposure to the elements will prove deadly. On such nights the typical survival strategies of those homeless men and women who refuse to stay in emergency shelters prove inadequate and people die.
On Code Purple nights in Wilmington, Friendship House offers emergency sanctuary to the chronically homeless at the Episcopal Church of Sts. Andrew and Matthew. The shelter was opens at 3:30 P.M. (after the FH Day center closed for the day) and closes at 8:30 P.M. (when the Salvation Army Code Purple night shelter opened for the night). Staffed by Bill Perkins and volunteers from Westminster Presbyterian Church, tthe Episcopal Church of Sts. Andrew & Matthew, Red Clay Creek Presbyterian Church, Cornerstone United Methodist Church, St. Andrew’s School and the Wilmington Rotary, the evening sanctuary serves 80 – 100 chronically homeless men and women each evening. The volunteers provide soup and sandwiches; Friendship House provides the hot beverages, paper and cleaning products.
On Code Purple nights in Newark, Friendship House and a coalition of ten Newark faith communities offers emergency sanctuary from dusk to dawn. Eight local churches serve as the host site on a rotating basis. Team of volunteers from local faith communities and community organizations offer hospitality to homeless guests in a church common room with access to bathrooms, a light evening meal, hot beverages and blankets. The goal is not to create an alternative shelter, but to keep people from freezing and convince them of the need to get into an emergency winter shelter within the next 24 hours. In the morning, guests are provided with a light breakfast and bus tickets, meet with Marc Marcus to plan out their day, and are encouraged to seek emergency shelter through Friendship House in Wilmington. Newark typically serves 12 to 15 guests nightly.
During the winter of 2009 -- 2010, Code Purple was declared on 36 nights in Wilmington and 28 nights in Newark. This winter, the numbers are slightly higher in Newark (27 through February 1st) and slightly lower in Wilmington (19 Through February 1st).