Brisben Perspectives: Meet Chris

Chris, a Navy veteran, is an affable and focused young man. He has spent most of his years in California and Florida. He is a man who has had multiple run-ins with homelessness, and often lived on its fringes. The early breakup of his parents and his resulting resentment of the aftermath has colored most of his life. Chris shared his story to help others.

He has fond memories of living with his grandparents in Winter Haven, Florida, before going into the Navy at age 18. He drank a lot in the Navy. He came out of the Navy to a life of going  job to job, a marriage, a daughter, and a marriage break-up. He eventually lost the support of his extended family. However, Chris lights up when he talks about his estranged daughter, who he loves. Chris said that while at Brisben he started working on renewing their relationship.

He moved back and forth between California and Florida, experiencing living in a tent and in a shelter boot camp. It was joining a watermelon picking crew that eventually brought him to Virginia and finally to Stafford. Chris lost his Stafford temporary housing arrangement and found himself living in the woods of Locust Grove. One day he realized he was tired of coming home after drinking and knew he could do better with his life. He explained that he just started walking the highway from Locust Grove to Fredericksburg when a man from St. Jude’s church gave him a ride, took him to church, and then brought him to Brisben. The first night there were no beds available. However after a few nights in the cold weather shelter, and getting some suggestions, he re-contacted staff at Brisben and a bed was available.

He described initially being very skeptical of the shelter and he doubted the advice of his case manager, Shelly. But then the doors started opening. He took advantage of all the opportunities and resources available at Brisben. He got a job and got into the VA system. He said it took a lot of work to get things turned around but he credited Brisben for providing the time, the foundation and structure he needed. He said that you have to make a choice — you can sit around and do nothing, or you can change your life with God's help. He looks forward to rebuilding his relationship with his daughter and father. Chris recently left Brisben, after successfully regaining his housing independence.