Our Empowerment Centers
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 New Castle County, Delaware.
The Empowerment Centers serve clients both as a sanctuary and as a stepping stone. Simple Christian hospitality is offered and people’s basic survival needs are met. Clients seeking to get back on their feet can find a pathway into various recovery programs. Life at the 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 life-changing and phenomenal. 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.
Each center is part of the network of homeless ministries housed out of local churches which have a partnership with Friendship House. The principal services include basic hospitality (coffee/ tea, water, bathrooms), 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 Centers see over two hundred and fifty clients on a daily basis and average 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.
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.
The Empowerment Day Centers help men and women with clothing referrals, pay medical prescriptions, distribute bus tickets and help to purchase birth certificates and/or state I.D. cards. More than 2,000 men and women use Friendship House as their mailing address, and over 2,500 men and women access our phone/fax/message service.
Services offered at our Empowerment Day Centers include:
- Access to a phone, a place to receive mail
- Computer labs
- A job readiness program where you will receive help on resume writing and job searches
- Help getting replacement birth certificates and identification
- Access to clothing
- Help with food or shelter referrals
- Bus tickets to verifiable appointments
- Assistance with medical prescription
- Hospitality of hot drinks, water, and access to a bathroom
- Sanctuary from the elements
Reaching Out Further
Even though we have historically had our two largest empowerment centers in Wilmington, with Newark’s center growing every year, Friendship House has always striven to serve all of New Castle County. Over the years it has become apparent that those who need services and do not live near or in these two cities are not finding their way to county and state wide agencies for help. Friendship House is committed to closing that gap. We are actively finding pathways to meet those families and individuals who find themselves in some sort of crisis and help them navigate through the human resource network. For more information or to be a part of this ministry, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Empowerment Day Center Locations and Phone Numbers:
Wilmington Empowerment Center: Monday – Friday: 6:00 am – 2:30 pm
720 N. Orange St, Wilmington DE (302) 652-8033
Newark Empowerment Day Center: Monday – Friday 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
69 E. Main St, Newark DE (302) 544-0165
Middletown Empowerment Day Center: Tuesday & Thursday 8:30 am – 11:30 am
44 W. Main St, Middletown DE (302) 464-1191