It might surprise some people in Charlottesville to learn to that over 1 in 10 people in the Blue Ridge region cannot take their next meal for granted. Founded in 1981, the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank (BRAFB) is the largest organization alleviating hunger in Western and Central Virginia. BRAFB is an emergency food assistance agency that serves more than 114,000 people each month through a network of 234 food pantries, soup kitchens, schools, churches and nonprofit groups. Last year, BRAFB distributed 18 million meals across the Blue Ridge to the most vulnerable in our community: children, the elderly, struggling families, the working poor, people with disabilities and the homeless.
Volunteering through Madison House helps build a bridge between the University community and the wider Charlottesville community. Sara Surface, a member of the Class of 2016 at the University of Virginia studying Global Development Studies & Women, Gender, and Sexuality, is the Madison House program director for BRAFB. Sara says, “I began volunteering at the Food Bank my first year because I wanted to become more involved with service in the Charlottesville community. I had heard a lot about the ‘UVA bubble’ and wanted to do my best to break it down. Even now, I continue to see the ways that UVA students are unexposed to the hardships facing the community around us. Being a program director has given me the opportunity to help others to break down this barrier in their lives, as well.”
Anna, a second year student at the University majoring in Economics and Media Studies, offers her perspective: “Volunteering with BRAFB is meaningful to me because it puts things in perspective to see that even small things can go a long way. One day a woman came in and mentioned that she needed food for her kids, so we threw a couple extra juice boxes and more kid friendly snacks into the bags. When the woman noticed this gesture she was so thankful. The people who come to the food bank don’t have many other options and it is humbling to see them have the courage to ask for help. Even if we are just sorting food or arranging bags, all of the work at the BRAFB is necessary in order to give as many people as possible the quality help they deserve.”
Madison House simultaneously builds up the capacity of local organizations and provides meaningful service opportunities for University of Virginia students. Joe, the branch manager at the Charlottesville distribution center for BRAFB, says “I particularly like the “can do” spirit Madison House volunteers bring to the Food Bank; they are up for any task, and once accomplishing those tasks, they are eager for more. Keeping in mind that volunteers contribute 90% of the work that is require to run the BRAFB, Madison House volunteers are vital in helping us help those in need in our community. Madison House volunteers help individuals directly through our PIN program (People In Need), and they sort and salvage food that goes directly to individuals and families in need throughout our entire service area.”
by Tim Freilich, Executive Director
My name is Tim Freilich, and I’m the new Executive Director at Madison House. You probably already know that our recipe for success includes student leadership, lifelong service and community.
But let me show you how those ingredients come together at one of Madison House’s most innovative community partners, the PB&J Fund.
When I met last week with Executive Director Emily Wampler, she shared the PB&J Fund’s mission: to connect Charlottesville youth with the resources and knowledge necessary to help develop a healthy diet. She gave me a quick tour of their color-coded, kid-friendly kitchen, and soon, five Madison House volunteers arrived–just in time.
Minutes later, twenty-one super-excited pre-teens came in, washed their hands, donned aprons, and learned that they would be making Turkey Nachos with Fresh Market Salsa.
Another of Madison House’s great community partners, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Virginia, brought the kids to the kitchen.
The photos give you a taste of just how perfectly this delicious three-way non-profit partnership works. The kids from the Boys and Girls Clubs are having a great time learning to cook healthy foods. The amazing staff members at the PB&J Fund are teaching far more kids than they could without the assistance of Madison House volunteers. And our Madison House volunteers are leading groups while both learning and teaching a basic life skill—how to make a mean (and healthy) plate of nachos!
To get the full flavor of Madison House’s impact on the community though, you need one more morsel of information. PB&J Fund’s Executive Director Emily Wampler—the one stirring this whole big steaming pot of non-profit collaboration for the benefit of kids in the community—Emily is herself a former Madison House volunteer. Tasty!
Madison House is proud to introduce the new Head Program Directors for 2015-2016! These University of Virginia students were chosen by their peers as the Head Program Directors for next year through a competitive selection process to lead one of Madison House’s nineteen volunteer service programs:
Have you heard about The Big Event? This year, University of Virginia students through Madison House will join over 110 institutions of higher education in the largest day of community service nationwide for college students: The Big Event on Saturday, April 11th from 9:00am until 1:00pm.
This year marks the inaugural The Big Event (formerly Cavs Care) at Madison House. It’s a day where hundreds of members of the University of Virginia community will come together to say thank you to individuals and organizations that support Madison House and UVA students through acts of service throughout Charlottesville.
Many organizations in the local community that help local residents in need have a wish list of projects and volunteers from The Big Event will be jumping in to complete those projects.
Because all of Madison House’s other volunteer opportunities require a weekly commitment, The Big Event is a great way for students to give back to the community even if you don’t have room in your schedule for a weekly commitment.
For Community Partners: If you are affiliated with a local organization, church, or community center that could benefit from this one-day opportunity to use volunteers for those “wish-list” items that need doing but never quite seem to get done, we ask that you fill out this form as soon as possible and encourage you to be as specific as possible in your request. Click here to apply!
For Site Leader Volunteers: Any UVA student can apply to be a Site Leader for The Big Event. The deadline is March 6th. Click here to apply!
For Day-of Volunteers: The Big Event is open to all UVA students (not only current Madison House volunteers). You can even represent an organization at UVA when you volunteer. The deadline is March 29th. Click here to apply!
Want to learn more? Madison House volunteer Jessica Blusiewicz recently spoke with Soundboard, WTJU 91.1 FM’s discussion program about news, culture, and community issues in the Charlottesville area and offered a preview of what to expect from The Big Event. Click here to listen!
To learn more about The Big Event, please click here.
The UVA Parents Committee has generously awarded Madison House with a $20,000 grant to support all 19 of our student-led volunteer programs during this academic year. The mission of the UVA Parents Committee is to enhance the student experience for all UVA undergraduate students.
We are so thankful for their support of the thousands of University of Virginia students who volunteer through Madison House every week and we would like to thank all of the parents who donated to the Parents Fund for making this grant possible.
A group of student volunteers from Madison House are helping to keep the homes of local residents safe and warm during winter through their service with the Albemarle Housing Improvement Program (AHIP).
Madison House’s Housing Improvement Program is an energetic group that strives to improve the housing conditions of low-income residents by partnering with various local non-profit organizations, including AHIP. This semester, Madison House sends 38 University of Virginia student volunteers for three shifts each week with AHIP and they tackle diverse projects from roofing to building emergency and wheelchair ramps while working closely with AHIP’s Volunteer Coordinator Corbin Breaud.
“Madison House volunteers are really the backbone of the AHIP volunteer program,” commented Breaud. “Without the steady flow of labor that Madison House provides, we would not be in a position to take on many of the jobs that we do now. One of the most important parts of AHIP’s relationship with Madison House is the stories of our work and our clients that our volunteers carry back to grounds and share with their peers. It’s always wonderful to introduce UVa students to a side of Charlottesville that they aren’t exposed to on grounds. To see the spark of compassion that is ignited by our service projects and the relationships formed between our volunteers and clients is truly the most rewarding part of our shared mission.”
The partnership between Madison House and AHIP is natural because AHIP actually began as volunteer grassroots effort by UVa students to clean up debris and repair damaged houses after Hurricane Camille struck central Virginia in 1969.
Morgan Matson, the Head Program Director for the Housing Improvement Program at Madison House and a member of the Class of 2015, shared her thoughts on volunteering with AHIP after a shift at the Southwood Mobile Home Park in Charlottesville earlier this month:
“During one day’s work, we accomplished fixing a floor, half-way completing a ceiling, and generally improving the atmosphere surrounding the house by raking leaves, collecting debris, and fixing a back wooden entrance. Housing improvement is a fantastic opportunity to make a physical difference that will last the homeowner, or even the community, a few decades or more. It means the world to me because I am not just feeding a family for day, but providing them a safe, comfortable environment to live in, sometimes for the rest of their lives. Meeting the families is especially powerful because you take a step into their lives when you make the commitment to help them. I have met families who have broken down in tears because of our help. Knowing that every hour I spend helps someone’s living situation, but also their dignity as a human being — that is what housing improvement means to me.”
The positive impact on students and local residents is clear in Madison House’s partnership with AHIP: volunteering through Madison House provides UVa students with an opportunity for educational and personal growth, and our community partners benefit from the increased capacity that consistent, weekly volunteers provide.
“During extreme weather, such as the record-low temperatures in recent days, our phones become extremely busy,” says Katie Davenport, Manager of Development & Communications at AHIP. “We experienced a surge of 16 new calls for small, urgent repairs within two weeks this winter—mostly families without heat, unsecure windows and doors, or leaking roofs. The work that Madison House does for local families provides much-needed maintenance before a repair turns into a dire situation jeopardizing a family’s safety, health, and well-being.”
To learn more about the Housing Improvement Program at Madison House, click here. To see a slideshow with more photos of Housing Improvement volunteers at work with AHIP featured by UVA Today, click here.
Madison House’s CASH (Creating Assets, Savings, and Hope) program was featured on the Charlottesville Newsplex over the weekend! CASH volunteers provide free tax preparation for low and moderate-income working families in conjunction with the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program.
Watch the news segment here to see Head Program Director Barnaby Lo and other Madison House volunteers from the University of Virginia help local residents file their taxes for free.
Barnaby Lo, a fourth year student, was inspired to do this free service for the public since his first year at UVa, “I really enjoyed meeting people in the community, super rewarding to see them getting their refunds and we think it’s a very valuable service,” he said. “We’ve gotten great feedback from our clients and we do it free of cost so, they get everything back, we don’t get a percentage of anything, and we try to do the best that we can to help them out.”
The CASH program delivers high-quality service to Charlottesville residents. CASH has consistently posted one of the lowest tax return rejection rates (less than 1%) among all VITA programs in the country. Thank you to CBS19 and Newsplex for shining a spotlight on the devoted student volunteers!
Madison House is pleased to announce the selection of Tim Freilich as our new Executive Director.
As an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, Tim was a Madison House volunteer and program director as well as a Lawn Resident during his fourth year. In 2005, he was named “Alumni of the Year” by the Madison House Alumni Council.
Prior to joining the Madison House team, Tim was the Legal Director of the Legal Aid Justice Center’s Immigrant Advocacy Program. Tim earned his B.A. and his law degree at the University of Virginia, where he received the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Public Service. He began representing migrant farmworkers with the Legal Aid Justice Center in 1999, and in 2001 he established Legal Aid’s northern Virginia branch to work with the region’s day laborers.
In 2009, the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy awarded Tim with the first David Carliner Public Interest Award, a national award given in recognition of fearless, uncompromising, and creative advocacy on behalf of marginalized people.
Tim lives in downtown Charlottesville with his wife and two young daughters.
“Madison House bridges the gap between the University and greater Charlottesville communities like few other organizations in town. I’m excited and honored to have the chance to help direct the positive energy of 3,000 of UVa’s best students as they serve the community,” said Tim. “It seems like everyone in town has a connection to Madison House. The students are volunteering in so many of our most effective local non-profits. But they’re also in our schools helping teach our kids. They’re in our hospitals helping people through difficult times. Every time I mention my new job, I hear another positive story about Madison House students out in the community doing great work. As we approach Madison House’s 50th anniversary, I look forward to working with both the University and greater Charlottesville communities. We are ready to lay the foundation for Madison House’s next fifty years of successful service.”
Paige McDermott, the student co-chair of Madison House’s Board of Directors, said “When looking for an executive director, I wanted a candidate who could balance the dual mission of developing student leaders and providing quality volunteers to the community. Tim passed this test with flying colors. I know Tim will successfully lead Madison House through our 50th anniversary and beyond.”
Jennifer Bonenfant, co-chair of the Board of Directors, adds, “I am thrilled Tim is joining the Madison House team! He is a proven leader with a genuine passion for community service. Tim’s deep understanding of the importance of volunteerism will open the door for more support to the community and enrich the student volunteer experience.”
Now in its 45th year, Madison House serves as the student volunteer center for University of Virginia students. Our mission is to coordinate volunteers, develop leaders, build community partnerships, and promote lifelong volunteer service.
You can contact Tim directly at email@example.com.
Last semester, 115 students volunteered through Pet Pals, Madison House’s popular program for shelter dogs and cats at the Charlottesville SPCA. Their activities included walking dogs, training puppies, socializing cats, and cage/supply care.
Here is what four Pet Pals volunteers had to say about their experience in our most recent volunteer survey:
“The animals were amazing. I have two dogs at home, and seeing so many dogs at the shelter who have had such hard challenges to overcome was so sad for me. I felt so honored to even be able to play with them and make them feel happy again.”
“I looked forward to Pet Pals every Monday. It is such a small thing to do that really means so much to the animals!”
“I had multiple shelter visitors approach me and thank me for helping the dogs and cats there. The effects resonate beyond the individual dogs and cats at the shelter!”
“It’s nice to be able to de-stress by helping the animals out. I feel more well-rounded thanks to Madison House.”
Thanks to a generous grant from Christina W. Donnelly and Anne W. Holman made from The Williamson Family Fund in the Community Foundation of New Jersey in memory of their parents Sheila and James G. Williamson (CLAS ’51), 10 Pet Pals volunteers have been sponsored for this academic year!
Update: The deadlines to apply for a place on the Madison House Board of Directors and to become a Head Program Director or a Program Director have now passed. Thank you for your interest!
More than 3,000 University of Virginia students volunteer their time and energy on a weekly basis to better the community and themselves through Madison House, an independent non-profit organization. Volunteers serve as tutors, construction workers, day care supporters, patient service representatives, role models, and peer counselors.
However, student volunteers have three opportunities for leadership roles at Madison House beyond volunteering: member of the Board of Directors, Head Program Director, and Program Director. Our student leaders are chosen by their peers through a competitive selections process for these roles.
If you are interested in applying to become a Program Director, click here. The deadline for the Program Director application will be February 22, 2015 before midnight.
If you are a current Program Director who would like to return as a Program Director for the 2015-2016 academic year, please remember that you are required to submit a separate application via here.
If you have any questions about these different opportunities, please email Jennifer Walker, Director of Programs at firstname.lastname@example.org, call (434) 977-7051, or stop by Madison House between 9:00am and 5:00pm Monday-Friday.