More Than Housing
When Efforts Pay Off

Doug, Alyce, and their four children were doing pretty well seven years ago. Childhood sweethearts from King George, they were renting a house on the water in Colonial Beach where Doug worked as a waterman and Alyce as a housekeeper. They had no car but everything was within walking or biking distance. All that suddenly changed when their house was foreclosed on and they were given 15 days to leave.

With no recourse, they gathered their belongings and moved into a hotel in Stafford near where Doug found work as a heavy equipment operator for $14 an hour.  Their plan was to stay there only until they found another
rental unit, but the $485 weekly rate and lack of a kitchen made it nearly impossible to save enough for a down payment and first month’s rent.  

It was not a good situation. With two beds and four children—one of them with special needs—two of them always slept on the floor. A microwave, tiny refrigerator, and hotplate comprised their kitchen. Due to occupancy ordinances, they had to move out every 28 days for at least 48 hours. Sometimes, they all slept on the floor of Alyce’s grandmother’s assisted living unit, which put her residency at risk. The hotel grounds were never altogether safe. Almost as bad was the stigma. People assumed Doug and Alyce were involved in illicit activities when, in fact, they were just trying to hold their family together. For seven years, they lived like this.

When COVID hit, Doug lost his job. Relief funding bought them some time, but they were ineligible for eviction prevention funding because it did not cover short-term occupancies. Faced with unsheltered homelessness, Doug and Alyce swallowed their pride and entered the Brisben Center.  

It took a week or two for the constant stresses of survival mode to begin to relax. Food and shelter were now a given. One of the children burst into tears at seeing she would have her own bed. For the first time in recent memory, the parents could clearheadedly take stock of their circumstances and plan steps toward resolving them. 

Now enrolled in Medicaid, they made long-overdue doctors’ appointments. They applied for food stamps to assist them post-shelter. Both Doug and Alyce signed on with a Mobility Mentor® to help them set and achieve family goals for a year or more after leaving the shelter. 

Inspired by the Germanna nursing students who volunteer at the Center, Alyce is taking steps to continue her nursing education. With coaching from the Job Help program, Doug is shopping a new resume around, confident in his ability to increase his earnings by 50%.  

Their luck took an extraordinary turn for the better when a cab driver, seeing their challenges and their tireless efforts, and was moved to gift them a car. (People’s kindnesses never fail to amaze us.)

Doug and Alyce will tell you that the Brisben Center has been like family. They participate in chores, prepare meals, share laughs over Friday night movies, and don’t have to worry about the safety of their children. Nor are they down on themselves these days. They are well on their way to financial well-being and a safe, secure, affordable home.  

Their advice for others is this: dig deep within yourselves for the desire to overcome your hardships. No one can do it for you. But there are miracles around the corner that you can’t even imagine. 
For all you who support the Brisben Center, the positive impact you have had on this family and many others is incalculable. If you have not made a financial contribution in some time, please consider supporting the hundreds of our neighbors we assist each year.  This work would not be possible without you.
Founded in 1988, the Brisben Center has provided shelter and hand-up services to over 7,000 people since 2005. Please consider a generous gift to help them find not just shelter, but a viable path out of poverty altogether. Thank you!
There are several ways to give:
  • Go to our website,
  • Send a check payable to the “Brisben Center” in the enclosed envelope.
  • Make your contribution through United Way CFC #63436. The Brisben Center is a United Way partner agency.
  • Donate when you shop! Use AmazonSmile and make the Thurman Brisben Homeless Shelter your chosen charitable organization.
  • Ask if your employer will match your gift.
  • Remember the Brisben Center in your estate planning.

Did you know, the CARES Act, passed last year, allows for taxpayers to deduct qualified charitable contributions up to $300. Simply said, giving money this year saves money. Partner with us today!
The Brisben Center is helping homeless individuals and families rebuild their lives - from surviving to thriving.
The Brisben Center | 540-899-9853 | |