The Daughters of Charity (a Roman Catholic Sisterhood) and Catholic Social Services founded Friendship Home in 1978 as a short-term shelter for women. The primary purpose of this shelter (located in a rented home) was to provide women and their children a place to stay when they came to Lincoln to visit loved ones in prison or in the hospital. The nuns staffing the shelter quickly found most of their clients were victims of intimate partner violence. By 1980, Friendship Home had moved to larger quarters and narrowed its mission serve only this clientele. In 1984, Friendship Home reincorporated as a 501(c)3 private non-profit organization.
Friendship Home’s first Board of Directors embarked on a $200,000 capital campaign to purchase a permanent emergency and long-term shelter facility. Thanks to funding from a number of sources – including the Peter Kiewit Foundation, the Lincoln Community Foundation and First-Plymouth Congregational Church – Friendship Home purchased and moved into its first permanent home in the summer of 1985.
Since its beginnings, Friendship Home’s facilities and services have expanded. Beginning in 1997, a $1.9 million capital campaign allowed the agency to purchase its second emergency shelter facility and undertake critical life and fire safety enhancements at the original shelter. This campaign also provided three years of operational funding for expanded emergency shelter.
In the early 1990’s, Friendship Home expanded its shelter safety net to include transitional shelter through an innovative collaboration with the Lincoln Housing Authority. This project, which began with a duplex and a small annual operating grant from the Lincoln Housing Authority, now includes a second duplex unit, two apartments, and a house.
In January 2015, Friendship Home piloted another innovative approach to shelter; a more individualized, more trauma-informed option for sheltering victims of domestic violence. Friendship Home opened six emergency ‘Single Family Shelters’, leased apartments in the community where families have the privacy and space they need to begin to heal and take the first steps out of crisis.
In conjunction with this project, our first and much loved communal shelter was given new life as a ‘Service Center’, where advocates can take important crisis calls. This restored space is also available to victims for a variety of services. At the Service Center, victims who have not yet come into shelter can safely meet with advocates, meet with our mental health counselor, get a food basket, take a shower, get a bite to eat or simply just relax.
Our second and now only communal shelter underwent major renovation in 2016 as part of a $100,000 grant. Floors were torn out, offices redone, roofs repaired and we even had a large garage built. The goal was to use these renovations to help repair lives, creating a more accommodating and functional environment.
At the end of 2016, Friendship Home received the recommendation of full funding from the Nebraska Crime Commission, allowing us to add six more Single Family Shelters due to their success, cost-effectiveness and the positive response from clients.