September 2018
Message from the Executive Director
With the coming of autumn and its crisp, bright-blue-sky days, our thoughts often turn outdoors to red and gold leaves drifting by, of apple-picking, fireplaces and county fairs. For some, those eighty women, children and adults who make the Brisben Center their temporary home, thoughts also focus on the warmth, safety, satisfied appetites and hand-up supports offered by the Thurman Brisben Center.
Much as trees now yield their colorful leaves, enriching the soil for another season of growth in the spring, so too are our open-handed investments of kindness, talents, passion and hope. We yield to nurture the wellbeing of those fortunate to be sheltered during the storms of their lives, those who trust us during times of great vulnerability.
As you read the stories within this newsletter, please join with me in reflecting on and giving thanks for the many shelter residents and the volunteers, donors, staff and organizations that dedicate themselves to making a temporary home for the homeless across our region.
May you enjoy this fall season and all the promise it holds for our future. 

N. David Cooper
Executive Director
Meet the Staff: Shelly Shipman
Case manager Shelly Shipman has a passion for her chosen vocation. She enjoys seeing a great many of her clients return to permanent housing, improve their health, reunite with family, and gain the benefits of targeted referrals. 
Things don’t always work out so well, of course. Sometimes people end up back in shelter. Through no fault of their own, they may continue to struggle with unemployment, poor health, accident, or family separation. They might go on making unwise choices or have difficulty focusing beyond the immediate. For people living paycheck to paycheck, it doesn’t take much to send them into a financial spiral that culminates in homelessness. 
Still, Shelly appreciates the challenges, enjoys the variety, and is pleased to be putting her education and experience toward the service of others. 
What skills define a good case manager? “Experience,” she answers. “Attention to detail. Time management. Organizational skills. An ability to read between the lines. Communication skills. Computer competence. Flexibility. A master’s degree in social work doesn’t hurt. Conflict resolution skills. An ability to esta-
tablish a rapport with ALL clients. Good boundaries.”
Away from work, Shelly’s life is abundant with grandkids, family, pets, and gardening. In her greenhouse and yard, she cultivates vegetables, herbs, flowers, and ornamentals. The sounds of birds, squirrels, and chipmunks transport her to a calm and meditative zone.
Planting seeds is partially how she works with clients, too, though results may not be evident for weeks, months, or years afterward. “A lot of them remember things I’ve said, and come back later to thank me,” she says, fondly reminiscing.
Can you sum up what you’ve learned at the Brisben Center over these years? “Never stop learning.” Shelly advises. “Clients teach me as much as I teach them.”
A Proud Supporter of Brisben!
Fred’s Story

Fred was recently diagnosed with a bi-polar disorder, which goes a long way toward explaining why his life fell apart. Severe moods swings, with a related substance use disorder, cost him his marriage, his job, and finally his housing. A college-educated professional, Fred is unable to work in his chosen field anymore. He now works six days a week at temporary jobs until he can find something in line with his training and skills. In the meantime, a mountain of debt, child support payments, and car repairs make it difficult to afford the necessities, such as the housing he lost because of a roommate’s eviction. He was sleeping in his car before coming to the Brisben Center. 
As daunting as these challenges are, Fred knows they are but temporary setbacks. “It’s nice to have a lot of hope,” he says. He attributes this in part to the Brisben Center, which is giving him some breathing space and “allowing me to save money and meet my expenses.” 
 “I found shelter and support here, career counseling to help me change careers, and was able to get temporary work.” Hope includes furthering his education and finishing a book. In the meantime, he is looking for a stable roommate with whom to share rent payments.
Brian’s Story
 A former Lynchburg native, Brian Carter moved to Fredericksburg when he got married. For 14 years, things were going exceptionally well. He had a good job, made great money, owned a four-bedroom house on a cul-de-sac. But in 2015, things went downhill. His job and marriage ended at the same time as a diabetic ulcer was discovered on his right foot. The ulcer led to a series of hospitalizations, a two-week coma, the loss of his right foot, and extensive rehabilitation. Under a doctor’s care, he still can’t work. The money ran out. In July, his house was foreclosed on.
“The Brisben Center is not home,” Brian will tell you, but it is a safe and secure “alternative to sleeping in my car.” He sees firsthand that staff and volunteers genuinely care: “The community as a whole helps out.” Case manager Shelly Shipman has been pivotal in connecting Brian to resources so that he can apply for disability benefits, which will help him afford housing until he can work again. “I am determined not to let this be the end of the story,” Brian says. “While I am here, I am going to keep fighting. I won’t give up.”
Special Thanks to:
Battlefield Corvette Club
Church of Jesus Christ of LDS - Aquia Chapter
Col. James & Lori McCown
Cornerstone Baptist Church
Dirk & Michele Robinson
Edwin & Dianne Watson
Exit Realty Group
Falmouth Baptist Church
Grace Church of Fredericksburg
Jeanette Woodcock
New Destiny Baptist Church
Potomac Baptist Church
Roberto Canizares, M.D.
Roger & Teresa Trott
Round Oak Baptist Church
Sherry Goode
Spotswood Baptist Church
Stafford Ruritan Club
Trinity United Methodist Church

Steve and Lynn Smith brought their family and friends on Sunday and prepared a delicious homemade vegetable and ravioli soup, along with wonderful turkey and ham sandwiches. They topped it off with oranges and brownies. Thank you Smith family and friends!!
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