Hill provides Hopes and Dreams in Dover

Trisha Hill stands in front of the Hopes and Dreams building in Dover. She and her staff of three peer support specialists help individuals cope with mental health concerns. Many of her clients make up Dover’s homeless population. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — Tricia Hill came to Dover last August not really knowing a whole lot about what she was getting herself into.

It turned out that Ms. Hill, director of the Hopes and Dreams Peer Resource Center at 621 W. Division St., has fit into the city’s fabric seamlessly.

She and her staff of three peer support specialists help individuals cope with mental health concerns. Many of her clients make up Dover’s homeless population.

“It’s been interesting,” Ms. Hill said. “I really appreciate Dover, let me tell you. I think Dover is a beautiful city and they’ve welcomed me with open arms. I have yet to meet somebody who has not been kind to me and that’s something.

“Professionally wise, everybody’s been very kind. The support that we’ve received here really makes Dover a pretty special place.”

In just half a year, Ms. Hill has partnered with Code Purple Kent County and its director, Rebecca Manahan Martin, and has also developed a congenial relationship with Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing.

While Ms. Hill is more than happy to help homeless people get out of the cold during the daytime hours in the chill of winter, her mission runs much deeper than that.

Ms. Hill said her clientele has tripled since she opened last August, going from around 15 people seeking help to an estimated 40 to 50 people a day now.
(Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“Peer support is what we do,” she said. “A lot of people need peer support and need somebody to listen and we can be that person. We have different support groups that we offer. We specialize in peer services, so we offer different support groups, such as an employment group, and do some different activities, arts and crafts, music and things like that.

“We help people with applications and resumes. We have computers and assist people with anything they might need on them. A lot of times people might just need them for email so that they can sign up or hear about jobs or things like that. Anything computerized that people need, we offer help with that.”

Ms. Hill said her clientele has tripled since she opened last August, going from around 15 people seeking help to an estimated 40 to 50 people a day now.

She said Hopes and Dreams has got to be extremely flexible with its program offerings, since it deals primarily with wide-ranging mental health issues.

Ms. Hill’s nonprofit organization is also partnered with Delaware Health and Social Services, which is working on signing some of her members up for benefits, as well as Housing Alliance Delaware.

In May, Ms. Hill hopes to host, along with Catholic Charities, an Excel class for people who are looking to get any kind of data entry job.

“It’s kind of an intensive class,” she said. “They have to take a test at the end and they have to make sure they attend the class each time. We’re trying to bring in different things like that. I think we’re making a lot of progress.

“We’re going to try to do a little bit of work with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and see if they can come in and feel out what people might need and the services they might be able to offer.”

Before arriving in Dover, Ms. Hill was busy studying for her Master’s degree at Widener University and also worked in Wilmington for a while.

Currently living in Newark, she is thinking about beginning to start the process of buying a new home in the capital city.

One thing is for certain, she has formed a solid bond with the people who seek peer support at Hopes and Dreams, which is supported by Mental Health Partnerships.

“I want to say something about the guys and women that come here because sometimes they get a little bit of a bad rap. But they would be there for me anytime that I needed it,” Ms. Hill said. “They are a pretty special group — very caring.

“They take care of each other. It’s so good to see. Sometimes you’ll see them and one of them will have a problem of some sort and they just rally around that person. They have really made my life special because they are just a great group of guys and women.”

She has also developed strong working relationships in the city.

“Becky (Martin, Code Purple Kent County) is a big supporter of ours and has been there for anything I need pretty much. She’s always there,” said Ms. Hill.

“The city of Dover’s (emergency management coordinator) Kay Sass brought some things over and it was very appreciated. They collected some things at City Hall, so that was very nice.”

Hopes and Dreams recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Code Purple Kent County to hand out its supplies to the impoverished from the organization’s back building on West Division Street.

They now hold onto Code Purple’s supply of blankets, clothing, sleeping bags and other staples.

Ms. Hill said the ironic thing about her job is that if she does it well, she would force herself out of business.

“That’s what we want to do. We want to work ourselves out of a job. That’s the goal,” she said. “The more people we can move on to brighter, better days, that’s the goal. That’s what we want to do.

“If every single one of the members that we have here went out and found housing and jobs, I would be overjoyed, even if it meant emptying the building.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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