Fredericksburg Parent

December 2017 - January 2018

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10 Fredericksburg Parent and Family • December 2017 & January 2018 Marisa's Story: The Thurman Brisben Homeless Shelter WRITTEN BY AmANdA dANAHER When Marisa arrived at the thurman Brisben homeless shelter (the center) in Fredericksburg last year, she was at the lowest point in her life. The mother of two was pregnant, unemployed and on the verge of homelessness with Christmas just three days away. "The Center welcomed us with open arms and provided my children with one of the best Christmases they ever had," said Marisa. "The staff was always friendly and helpful in getting any- thing I needed to care for myself and my boys, from diapers and wipes and toiletries to clothing and shoes." Since its founding in 1987, the Center has provided housing and services to individuals just like Marisa from Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford counties as well as the city of Fredericksburg. "Our goal at the Center is to help people move toward finding permanent housing and that can look different for everyone," said Kim Lally, executive director at the Center. Open 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, the building can house up to 80 people with each resident (client) staying no longer than 90 days. Clients are provided three meals a day as well as clothing and toiletries. They also receive help completing government forms, developing resumes, practicing interview skills and more, at no cost to them. "They guided me through it all letting me always know I was not alone, which gave me the strength to never give up," added Marisa. The Center also boasts separate housing for single men and women as well as eight separate family units to keep families intact during their stay. On average, the Center houses over 500 individuals a year, and last year alone, they served 78 children, including Marisa's two sons, now ages 3 and 9. profi le The children at the Center can still have a sense of normalcy although displaced from their homes. Most typically are allowed to remain in their original school as well as receiving tutoring and counseling when needed. They also can enjoy arts and crafts, story time and even annual holiday celebrations such as pumpkin carving and a visit from Santa on Christmas Eve. "The holidays around here are so fun," added Lally. "The kids do not go without." But how does the Center run and oper- ate on just $28 per person per day? From meals, to clothing, to holiday celebrations, all of this is made possible by donations and volunteers, giving folks like Marisa a new beginning. "I gained an independence that I never thought I would have and, in turn, I found myself again," said Marisa. "They believed in me and taught me how to believe in myself." To volunteer with the Thurman Brisben Homeless Shelter this holiday season, please email When Marisa arrived at the thurman Brisben homeless shelter (the center) in Fredericksburg

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