Brisben Perspectives: David's Story

David was born and raised in Stafford County. He joined the Army at the age of 17 where he proudly served six years as a heavy-weapons specialist. Although it is important in the Army, the heavy-weapon specialist position didn't provide skills that would make an easy return to civilian employment. However, David developed skills in the construction trade and worked for many years doing new construction and remodeling.

In 2011 David first needed the Brisben Center’s services when he was laid off from his construction job and could not afford housing. He said he found the Center through a co-worker who knew of the Center through his church, which served meals here. David said he was initially scared when he entered the shelter but soon discovered that, by following simple rules that were in place, the Center provided him with safe and secure temporary housing, and a place to regain his independence. When his employment resumed he regained his previous housing and his independence.

In January 2016, David again needed the Center when his construction employment disappeared and he lost his housing. After getting some temporary assistance from Micah Ministries, David returned to Brisben as his temporary residence. While at Brisben David applied for his Veterans benefits through the Veterans Administration and with the support of several local agencies — including Quin Rivers, Central Virginia Housing Coalition, Micah and Brisben — David received his benefits and housing. He also obtained part-time employment with the Rappahannock Area Agency on Aging (RAAA). With his benefits and employment David obtained his own apartment and again regained his independence. 

David said that his going to Brisben for a second chance was a “no-brainer.” He credited Brisben with giving him a feeling of security and safety while working and waiting on his benefits and housing. He explained that Brisben’s 24-hour, every day residence, its three meals, a shower and laundry provided his essentials. Additionally, Brisben’s case manager, Shelly, and other staff members helped him stay calm and work through the issues during frustrating periods with the benefits and housing process.

David shared some straight-forward advice for others who become homeless and need Brisben to assist them:

Leave your attitude outside;
Follow the simple rules;
Do your chores;
Don't argue with the staff. 

Today, David has a full-time job with RAAA, where he packages and delivers meals and cares for others.

David wanted to share the following message with the greater Fredericksburg community: “Thank you for your generosity and for being there to provide me with the essentials of life while I was homeless. I never went without.” 

NOTE:  During FY 2016 the Brisben Center served more than 500 men, women and children, including 35 veterans.