Ellen Simpson, Executive Director of the Center, sat at the head of the table and explained the history of the institution and how it operates on a day-to-day basis. The majority of the funding to keep the center afloat is provided by the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Dept. of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS). The clients they care for range in age from 18-65 +. Homelessness does not have an age barrier. It can happen to anyone at anytime, and until you are put into that situation, you can never know the true despair and hopelessness that these people face on a daily basis.
That’s why The Friendship Center and others centers like it are so important in the community. Unlike other shelters in the state, which provide services usually from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m., The Friendship Center allows people to stay all day, and overnight if necessary. They are also considered a “wet” shelter, which means that they are willing to take in people that are active drug and alcohol abusers. Most shelters will turn away these folks, as they don’t want to handle the potential problems they could bring to the facility. I think that it’s incredible that The Center is willing to extend a helping hand to these folks.
Another truly remarkable program that they offer is called the HAL program. It stands for “Home At Last.” It allows up to 10 individuals to get rental assistance to obtain permanent housing. This is truly a life-altering service allowing people the opportunity to get back on their feet and find a job, without having to worry whether they will have a roof over their head on a given night.
I’m positive that because of their efforts in the community, many people have turned their lives around and owe a debt of gratitude to the Center. They truly make a difference in the community and should be proud of their accomplishments.