In November we sent out our annual Fall Newsletter. This is a portion of that newsletter. You can see it in its entirety by clicking here.
Spring’s Promise in Winter’s Death
Like people, non-profits have their life cycles. Ministries are born in response to specific social crises. If successful, these ministries prosper, developing effective programs and infrastructures. Whatever their level of success, however, non-profits also inevitably age. A new generation of clients with different needs and priorities come seeking help. The programs and policies once so effective become out of step with changing times. As they approach their thirtieth anniversary, many non-profits have lost their vitality and are struggling to survive. A special few, however, have made strategic planning a part of their corporate DNA and have the capacity to renew their ministry and effectively serve the next generation of people in need.
In 2017, as Friendship House celebrates thirty years as a nonprofit and I celebrate my seventieth birthday, I will step down as Executive Director. Of the four generations of homeless clients served by Friendship House over this time, Dewey’s World War II generation have almost all past away and my own Baby Boomer generation are mostly senior citizens. The two newest and fasting growing client populations are working class families and young adults under thirty-five. While survival needs of the homeless haven’t changed, the challenges impeding their recovery are new and diverse. For Friendship House to fulfill its mission to this new generation of people in need, survival is not enough.
Four years ago the Friendship House board and staff initiated a six year strategic plan of renewal and transformation. In response to a dramatic increase in the number of suburban homeless and at risk clients, Friendship House re-engineered its programs to serve all of New Castle County. Rather than short-term crisis interventions, these modified programs emphasize empowerment and ongoing communal support. Recognizing that it needed to recruit a new, younger generation of staff and volunteers, Friendship House expanded its intern program and introduced new volunteer opportunities for students and families. To develop the next leadership team, Friendship House recruited and hired new middle managers to understudy with the current senior staff. Internally, Friendship House dramatically upgraded its properties, equipment, infrastructure and digital footprint.
As its thirtieth anniversary approaches, Friendship House courses with new life, blessed with a new generation of passionate ministers ready to bring good news to their peers.
CEO and Executive Director
An Intern’s Story
I can start by saying that I wouldn’t be writing this if I never found Friendship House. God led me to the Women’s Day Center two years ago whe n I was homeless and living in my addiction. After
recently being released from jail I had nothing to my name and nowhere to go. I wanted to live the “right way”, clean and legally, but I had no idea where to start. In my past struggles with my addiction, feeling unaccepted and lacking a sense of security and support was always my downfall; I found these things at the Women’s Center. I was living at Hope House and every morning, going to the Women’s Center was as much part of my routine as eating breakfast. I would meet up with the other clients for a cup of coffee before we all went off to an NA meeting or to apply for jobs. That is how I met my best friend and learned about all of the other agencies and programs in Wilmington that contributed to my success.
Two years later, I now have a nice apartment, a car, a steady management job, financial security, my sobriety, friends, and I am about to graduate college. I wouldn’t have any of this if I didn’t have the other clients and case workers at the Women’s Day Center to support and guide me from the beginning of my journey to independence. I chose to intern at Friendship House because I wanted to give back to the people who helped me the most and show clients that it is possible to recover from whatever situation they may be struggling with. Now, when I meet clients that don’t believe they can succeed or think it’s impossible to get their life back, I can tell them my story. There is no better feeling than to be able to help someone with what I learned from my experiences. Every day of my internship is something new and exciting; I get to meet and help new people every day and follow return clients through their journey. I am amazed by the level of dedication from every employee and volunteer at Friendship House; I can’t imagine what the thousands of clients and I would have done without them.
Fall Friendship House Intern