A Sanctuary In Time Of Need
302-652-8133 • fax: 302-652-8641
Click to read the 2008 Prison Ministry Update (PDF format).
Roughly 40% of the homeless clients already served by Friendship House are also involved with the courts and the department of corrections in some capacity. Some are awaiting trial; others are on probation; but most are recently released prisoners lacking the resources to maintain an independent lifestyle. Besides offering these individuals the same variety of services that are available to all our clients, Friendship House has also tried to design some programs that address the specific needs of soon-to-be-released prisoners. Most are employment-related, but some address the need for structured supervised housing within a supportive community.
Most homeless men and women getting out of jail or prison, even after only 30 days, have lost everything they owned, including their I.D. Without the proper identification (birth certificate, social security card, DE State identification card or driver’s license), people cannot hope to find a decent job. Friendship House is constantly helping people to acquire I.D., but the process typically takes two to six weeks (depending upon state of birth) and costs about $20 per person. Our challenge is to identify soon-to-be-released prisoners in need of I.D., so that we can help them acquire this employment-required documentation before they are released. We have the necessary forms and know the process. We are happy to assume the application costs. We simply need some group of social workers, chaplains or volunteers willing to inform their clients of this service and supply us with necessary data to process the application forms.
Upon their release, such clients can come to the Friendship House Day Center and immediately begin the job search process. Our staff can prepare their resumes. Through our Homebase Program, we can supply them with a mailing address, phone messaging service and a fax number. Through our clothing bank, we can assist them with appropriate work clothing. In December, 2001, Friendship House also opened a six bed emergency shelter for employable homeless men leaving residential facilities. Such a shelter is able to offer men getting out of prison with a safe, drug-free environment while they seek employment and transitional housing.
Through its Job Readiness Program, Friendship House works to find employment for individuals with the proper I.D. within thirty days of their first interview. Through its Clothing Bank of Delaware, Friendship House can offer female clients ninety days of full-time, day-time employment and job training. We use this time to allow new workers to make their rookie mistakes, re-orientate themselves to 40 hour work weeks, take care of their transitional social needs (child care, probation/parole, housing, etc.) and find a better job. We have about a 50% success rate.
Participants of our Job Readiness Program who demonstrate a willingness to address the underlying causes of their present condition may also be offered residence in one of our nine transitional housing programs. For ex-offenders, these tend to be active participants from one of the Department of Correction’s recovery programs (C.R.E.S.T., the KEY Program and/or the Village). Many begin their jobs on work/release and then move into housing after they have established a track record with Friendship House. Such clients can spend up to nine months in our housing program depending upon their commitment to and participation in our very intensive programs that include budgeting, credit restoration, parenting, decision-making, relationships and recovery.