The Thurman Brisben Center


Our 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.

The Brisben Center is the greater community's largest full service, year-round, residential emergency homeless center. This unique facility 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. In the late 1980s, many downtown faith organizations initially founded the Center and today 70 area community and faith-based organizations support it across the four-county community. 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 women, children and men with a wide range of services. The Center is a critical port in the storm for those experiencing homelessness in our community, including many veterans. At Brisben, hundreds of volunteers and supporters from our greater community serve the region's homeless each year.                                                        

What is the Brisben Center?

Serving 80 men, women and children at any given time, the Brisben Center is 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 individual family rooms. It also has a computer lab, a TV/playroom, an outdoor playground, a basketball court, a meditation room, a large common area for meals and activities, a clothes closet, a commercial kitchen, a laundry room and staff offices. 

We offer homeless individuals and families, at no cost to them, a safe and structured program with hand-up supports to help them achieve and maintain self-sufficiency. Residents 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, financial literacy/budgeting, and addressing medical issues. Families with children receive this same assistance with additional services such as arranging for transportation to and from school.

In FY 2018, the Brisben Center served 590 men, women and children; 90 of whom were children and 45 were veterans.

The Brisben Center relies on highly committed volunteer and generous donors. These include faith-based organizations, civic organizations, partnering businesses, generous individuals, the United Way, Community Foundation, and others.  

Brisben also receives critical financial support from federal, state and local governments – including the City of Fredericksburg; the counties of Stafford, Spotsylvania, King George, and Caroline; and HDA.

Who was Thurman Brisben?

The Brisben Center (originally the Thurman Brisben Homeless Shelter) began in 1987 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.

During its first few years, the shelter operated only at night during the winter, closing its doors 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 Episcopal Church. She was always there to listen, to counsel, to help find medical attention, to provide guidance with social services applications, and to help find jobs.

When Thurman lost her battle to cancer, the church shelter board renamed the shelter in her memory.


What are some contributors to homelessness?

  1. Unemployment

  2. Unaffordable/Inaccessible Housing

  3. Substance Use Disorders

  4. Mental Illness

  5. Family Crisis

  6. Health Issues

In FY 2017-2018, who were the homeless assisted by Brisben?

  • 253 Single Men

  • 166 Single Women

  • 90 Children

  • 58 Families

  • 47 Veterans

What is the Brisben philosophy in helping the homeless?  

We believe that a hand-up approach, focusing first on strengths, most often provides our clients with the best opportunity to regain their independence and maintain it.

What does it cost to run a 24-hour-a-day, staffed, safe and secure, 80-bed emergency homeless center?

For $33 a day, Brisben Center provides 24/7, 365 days a year all of the following:

  • Job coaching

  • Mental health and DHS eligibility services

  • Three healthy meals a day

  • Employment assistance

  • Transportation assistance

  • Internet & computer access

  • Laundry facilities

  • Children's activities

  • Agency referrals

What does this average $33 per day, per client provide?

A safe and secure environment, in a 24 hours a day, seven days a week, staffed shelter.  It includes meals, case management services, laundry, internet/computer access. It is temporary shelter providing a second chance to the homeless in our community.

In FY 2017-2018 in what jurisdiction residents 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