The Brisben Mission
To provide at-risk and homeless men, women and children of Caroline County, King George County, Spotsylvania County, Stafford County, and the city of Fredericksburg with appropriate and essential shelter and services to affect positive life changes.
BUILDING A BETTER BRISBEN
The Brisben Center is the greater community's largest full service, year-round, residential emergency homeless shelter. This unique facility was opened in 2005 as the result of an amazing vision and partnership among the leadership of the nonprofit Thurman Brisben Homeless Shelter, Inc., the City of Fredericksburg and the greater community. The homeless shelter was initially founded in the late 1980s by St George's Episcopal and other downtown churches. Today the Center is supported by over 75 area churches and faith-based organizations,from across the four county community, to include the Beth Sholom Temple and the Islamic Center. Brisben operates on the principle that we are called by God and community to help those who are most in need. It provides a safe and secure, staffed 24-hour temporary residence for the homeless 365 days a year. It can simultaneously serve up to 80 homeless individuals, families and children with a wide range of services. The Center is a critical port in the storm for those experiencing homelessness in our community. At Brisben hundreds of volunteers and supporters from our greater community serve hundreds of our region's homeless. SEE OUR "NEWS" CAPTION AT THE HOME PAGE FOR PHOTOS OF OUR VOLUNTEERS IN ACTION.
The Center’s Board of Directors is committed to overcoming the Center’s funding challenges in order to continue effectively and efficiently meeting the needs of the homeless in the greater Fredericksburg, four county community.
Join us as WE BUILD A BETTER BRISBEN!
What is the Brisben Center?
In FY 2016, the Brisben Center served 506 unduplicated men, women and children; 76 were children, 35 were veterans. In FY 2017 the Center has already served 362 homeless individuals, including 50 children and 36 veterans.
Serving 80 men, women and children at any given time, the Brisben Center is a 10-year old residential facility and the community’s largest emergency shelter in the four county area. The Center contains separate sleeping areas (dormitories) for single men and single women and eight family units that have a hotel room layout so that families with children can stay together. It also has a computer lab, TV/Play room, a meditation room, large common area for meals and activities, clothes closet, medical infirmary staffed with a licensed medical doctor, a laundry room and staff offices.
We offer homeless individuals and families, at no cost to them, an on-site safe and structured program to help them achieve and maintain self-sufficiency and independence. Our clients voluntarily assist in helping with the daily tasks of operating the Center. To bring lasting change into the lives of our clients, we assist all who enter our doors with finding housing and employment, securing their GED, financial literacy/budgeting, and addressing medical issues. Families with children receive this same assistance with additional services such as arranging for schooling and transportation for school-age children, day care assistance and parenting classes.
The Brisben Center is dependent on numerous highly committed volunteers,and generous donors. These include our serving churches and other faith-based organizations, civic organizations, partnering businesses, giving individuals, and the Rappahannock United Way .
Additionally, Brisben would not exist without the critical financial support of local and state governments, which include the City of Fredericksburg, and the counties of Stafford, Spotsylvania, King George, and Caroline, as well as the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.
Who was Thurman Brisben?
The Thurman Brisben Homeless Shelter began as a church-operated shelter for the homeless in Fredericksburg and is named for Thurman Brisben, a selfless woman who gave so much of herself to the homeless of the area.
In 1987, Saint George’s Episcopal Church was one of several downtown churches that banded together to start a local homeless shelter. Representatives of those churches were the founding mothers and fathers of the shelter — Thurman Brisben was Saint George’s angel of mercy.
During the first few years, the shelter only operated during the winter months and only at night. The doors were closed during the day because the volunteers had to go to work. But there was one place the homeless could always go, and one person to whom they could always turn — Thurman Brisben. During the day she kept an office at Saint George’s. She was always there to listen, to counsel, to help find medical attention, to provide guidance through social services applications, and to help find jobs. Many remember her at the Maury School location as the “the tiny lady with white hair who looked like the wind could blow her over.” But she was strong and when she stared down (actually, up) a client, he or she would do anything Thurman asked!
When Thurman lost her battle to cancer, the church shelter board renamed the shelter in her memory.
What are the main contributors to homelessness?
Loss of income, low wages or unemployment. Any disruption for low-income families such as unexpected illness and medical expenses, unemployment, divorce, loss of transportation can create a financial crisis that results in a loss of housing for these families.
Lack of affordable housing. A primary contributor to homelessness is a lack of rental housing that very low-income people can afford.
Domestic violence. Victims of domestic violence often must flee their homes.
Drug/alcohol addiction or mental illness.
In FY 2014 who were the homeless assisted by Brisben?
(These included 54 families)
- 34 percent of the total population had a disability, often preventing them from obtaining employment.
- 24 percent of the total population were veterans.
- 25 percent of the total population had some college education.
- 9 percent had a college degree and five residents had some level of graduate education.
- 32 percent of all households left for permanent housing.
What is the Brisben philosophy in helping the homeless?
We believe we are clearly called by God to help those with the least in our community. We were founded and are strongly supported by the great serving churches and other faith-based organizations across the City of Fredericksburg and its surrounding four-county community. We believe that a hand-up approach most often provides our clients with the best opportunity to regain their independence and to also maintain it. Our current clients, some former clients, and our great volunteers help with operations at the center.
What does it cost to run a 24-hour-a-day, staffed, safe and secure, 80-bed emergency homeless center?
In FY 2015 the average monthly operating expenses were approximately $56,000 per month. The average operating cost per day/per client was approximately $26 per day.
What does this average $26 per day/per client provide to clients?
A safe and secure environment, in a 24 hours a day, seven days a week, staffed shelter. It includes meals, case management services, recovery and support programs, laundry, internet/computer access. It is temporary shelter providing a "second chance" to the homeless in our community.
In FY 2015 what jurisdiction had the homeless been living before coming to Brisben?
- Fredericksburg — 35 percent (186)
- Spotsylvania — 30 percent (161)
- Stafford — 25 percent (133)
- King George — 4 percent (19)
- Caroline — 6 percent (30)
- Other Virginia /Out of State- less than 1 percent
How many people in FY 2015 asked for Brisben services but could not be helped due to lack of space?
As in prior years, several hundred individuals could not be housed . (Some individuals made multiple requests during the year)