Homelessness is a chronic problem that has been affecting the New Britain area for decades. Fortunately, there are many prominent organizations tasked with the noble goal of providing aid and care to those with no place to call home. One such association is the Friendship Service Center, which has been offering services to those in need since 1968 when Father Joseph Farrell opened the very first Friendship Center to help those with rampant drinking problems.
“Today I’m opening a storefront Friendship Center. You folks know the location well – it’s between two package stores. We’re going to show the needy that nobody is a nobody in the eyes of God. I hope this work will grow and grow and be of as much help to as many people as possible.”
It’s from these humble beginnings that the Friendship Center has developed into an organization that is able to give shelter to the homeless, assist those with drug abuse, and ultimately offer a future to those in need where they are acclimated to society and living on their own successfully and independently.
Early in October, I went to the Friendship Center on Arch Street as part of a class trip to meet with some of the team members working there and talk with Executive Director Ellen Perkins Simpson where she shared some insight into her organization and mission. She went into great detail about how individuals staying at their housing units receive intense case management. There are weekly check-ins to see how they are faring in their apartments. Some of these clients have been living on the streets for years (some for over 10 years), so workers at the Friendship Center guide them on cooking, cleaning, and obtaining jobs, with the eventual goal of getting them to live by themselves independently. Visiting the Friendship Center was an eye-opening, yet hopeful experience. It was comforting to know that the team’s methods of rehabilitation worked and that several homeless people now lead very successful lives.