A Sanctuary In Time Of Need
302-652-8278 • fax: 302-652-8641
Since its inception at the old Meeting Ground thrift store, Friendship House has always viewed its day ministry as its primary contact with the homeless population of New Castle County. At its open-door drop-in centers, the staff and volunteers of Friendship House interface over a hundred homeless clients daily. The Centers are not only Ground Zero for the Friendship House Empowerment Strategy Program; it is also the agency’s principal barometer for the size and needs of the homeless population in Wilmington.
The Day Centers serve clients both as a sanctuary and as a springboard. Here simple Christian hospitality is offered and people’s basic survival needs are met. Here also clients seeking to get back on their feet can find a pathway into various recovery programs. Life at the Day Centers is as slow as an early morning cup of coffee with a longtime homeless friend or as frantic as a noon deadline for something that the person should have had last week. It is the sublime and the ridiculous. It is wasting an hour, listening to a story you have heard many times before on the chance that this time something will be different. It is waiting for God in others the way that others have waited to see God in you.
In addition to its two weekday drop-in centers, Friendship House coordinates the Sunday Morning Breakfast Program, which serves a hot breakfast to the homeless every Sunday, and the Winter Weekend Hospitality Program, which offers daytime sanctuary at local churches to the homeless during the weekends of winter .
Marc Marcus: Program Coordinator
Chris Franson Wright: Men's Center Manager
Nate Milton: Men's Center Manager
The Men’s Day Center is part of the network of homeless ministries housed at Old Asbury United Methodist Church. Its principal services include an early morning coffee hour (6:00 -- 8:00 A.M.), the Home Base Program (mailing address, phone service, locker & savings bank), a consultation & referral service, AA and NA meetings and the Job Readiness Program (Computer lab, Job mentors, I.D., Resume, Bus Tickets, Work Shoes, Equipment, Workers’ Shelter).
The Center sees about one hundred thirty clients on a daily basis and averages about 6,000 service contacts per week. The Center continues to see significant growth in the number of clients who took advantage of Friendship House’s various empowerment programs, especially the New Job Program and our Addiction Recovery Services. Attendance at the Center’s early morning AA and NA meetings averaged over twenty people per meeting.
In 2009, the Men’s Day Center nearly 3,000 unduplicated clients. Because of the increased difficulty in clients’ ability to acquire State mandated documentation (e.g. birth certificate, social security card, and State I.D. card), many clients found themselves frustrated in their attempts to get back on their feet. Not only were more people becoming homeless, but they were staying homeless longer.
For men struggling to survive another day, the Home Base Program was a Godsend. The Day Center helps men with lockers, clothing referrals, pays medical prescriptions, distributes bus tickets and helps to purchase birth certificates and/or state I.D. cards. More than 2,000 men use Friendship House as their mailing address, and over 2,500 men access our phone/fax/message service.
If decent paying jobs were scarce, the clients’ pursuit of employment was not. The Day Center daily witnessed the desperate search for any kind of work. Besides assisting with work-required I.D., bus tickets and work clothing, staff and volunteers help clients with their resumes and job applications, pay for temp service registration fees, write away for high school transcripts and GED certificates and screen applicants for the H.I.P. job program, an entry-level employment program sponsored by the Nehemiah-Gateway Foundation, one of Friendship House’s many ministry partners.