Pet Pals volunteerLast 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!

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 for a place on the Madison House Board of Directors, click here. The deadline is February 8, 2015 before midnight.

If you are interested in applying to become a Head Program Director, click here. The deadline is February 12, 2015 before midnight.

If you are interested in applying to become a Program Director, the application will be put online the morning of February 2nd. Please check back here then to access it. The deadline for the Program Director application will be February 22, 2015 before midnight.

If you have any questions about these different opportunities, please email Jennifer Walker, Director of Programs at, call (434) 977-7051, or stop by Madison House between 9:00am and 5:00pm Monday-Friday.

Calling all University of Virginia students! Want to make a difference this next semester? Sign up to volunteer through Madison House, your student volunteer center. There are many programs with an opportunity for every interest — from caring for animals to building houses to spending time with the elderly and beyond! Sign up at

Still trying to choose a program to volunteer with this semester? Consider English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)! You’ll meet children and adults from a variety of different cultures and no foreign language skills are necessary.

Or, consider making a positive impact on local youth this semester through PLAY! Volunteers through this Madison House program help out at various community organizations, including Boys and Girls Club, The PB &J Fund, and the Field School. Volunteers serve as mentors and role models with the local youth who need them most.

Another great program to get involved with HALO, which stands for ‘Hoos Assisting with Life Obstacles. Volunteers provide direct assistance through community partners like Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, The Haven, Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry, Inc., and many others.

Finally, a very rewarding volunteer opportunity is mentoring. Volunteer with the Youth Mentoring program through Madison House and be someone who matters to a local child. Community partners include Computers4Kids, Music Resource Center, Action in Reading, Virginia Discovery Museum, and more.

Want to learn more about the wide variety of volunteer opportunities available through Madison House? Come to the Winter Activities Fair sponsored by UVa Student Council on Tuesday, January 20th from 11:00am-2:00pm in the Newcomb Ballroom. Representatives from Madison House will be present along with 100 other CIOs from around Grounds. If you can’t make it to the activities fair, feel free to drop by Madison House between 9:00am and 5:00pm Monday-Friday to speak with our staff about how you can volunteer this semester. Questions? Please email Jennifer Walker, Director of Programs, at

Big SiblingsThe Bama Works Fund of the Dave Matthews Band in the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation (CACF) has awarded Madison House a grant for $9,800 in support of the Big Siblings and Bridging the Gap programs for the second year in a row. We are grateful for their renewed support of these two mentoring programs for local youth.

The Big Siblings program seeks to develop consistent, long-term, one-on-one relationships of friendship and trust between the volunteer and the child. It is a chance for a volunteer to have an impact on the life of a child who is in need of more positive relationships. During the year-long commitment the volunteer spends two hours per week with a local child and deep friendships are formed.

Bridging the Gap (BTG) volunteers are devoted to befriending and mentoring refugee children from Burma, Congo, Iraq, Kenya, Liberia, Nepal, Russia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand and Togo who have resettled in the Charlottesville-Albemarle area.

BTG volunteers seek to inspire and help refugee youth develop the tools necessary to obtain greater opportunities in American society, engaging in activities ranging from playing sports and games, helping with homework, cooking, carpool to and from soccer practice, visiting museums, and more.

Volunteers with both programs take away just as much from participating as their mentees and Little Siblings do! One volunteer said, “I didn’t ever think I could relate to a 12-year old refugee girl but we’re bonding really well and I’m so happy to have met her!”

Another volunteer explained how volunteering changed their perspective, saying “It has helped me to have a more servant mindset in college.”

The connections forged by volunteers and mentees or Little Siblings can last a lifetime. One current Big Siblings volunteer said, “My mom was a Big Sib in college. We still keep up with her Little Sib and her family … My conversations with my Little Sib have made me thankful for opportunities that I have been given, especially educational opportunities. She wants to become a doctor and I hope and pray that she will have the opportunity to do so.”

The Bama Works Fund of Dave Matthews Band in the CACF supports charitable programs in the Charlottesville area as well as nationally and around the world. Program interests include, but are not limited to: disadvantaged youth, needs of the disabled, protection of the environment, and the arts and humanities. The fund has made over 800 grants totaling more than $15 million since its inception. You can find out more here.

Thank you to the Bama Works Fund of the Dave Matthews Band in the CACF for their continued support!

AAGPIt’s the last day of #12DaysOfMH and we’re shining a spotlight on Madison House’s Adopt a Grandparent program! The student volunteers with Adopt-A-Grandparent create meaningful, one-on-one relationships with seniors in the Charlottesville community.Madison House has partnered with local senior living facilities since 1970, making Adopt a Grandparent one of its oldest programs.

Caroline, a volunteer with Adopt-A-Grandparent at Morningside Assisted Living, says “It has been both exciting and meaningful to walk in and not only catch up with my own grandmother, Mrs. Amato, but also to be familiar with the lives and hobbies of her friends and neighbors such that I can stop and chat with them as well. After four years of volunteering at Morningside, I have been thrilled to see the other Madison House volunteers and I not only be “adopted grandchildren,” but also become members of the Morningside community.”

Eliza, another volunteer with Adopt-A-Grandparent, says “A couple weeks ago when I was visiting my grandpa, Mr. Parrish, I got to meet his two sons. It was so special to hear Mr. Parrish tell his sons about our visits and how much he loved the program. His sons were also really appreciative that I visit and check up on their dad since they live far away and don’t get to see him often. I felt like a part of Mr. Parrish’s family and it was really special visit for all of us.”

Neale, a volunteer at Westminster-Canterbury Blue Ridge, says “I absolutely love my grandmother, Mrs. Wall. She is always giving me great advice, and we have fun talking together. I love writing down her greatest quotes because they are so insightful. Here is a favorite, ‘Don’t go along with a closed-fist, the more you open-up and give, the more you receive, and the closed-fist people are not happy!'”

To read more about the Adopt-A-Grandparent program, click here.

Cavs in the ClassroomIt’s time for another installment of ‪#‎12DaysOfMH‬! Cavs in the Classroom volunteers work as teachers’ aides in local elementary schools, leading groups of children in activities like reading, math, spelling, and art. Volunteers develop relationships with children, helping with general instruction and assisting those students who need additional support.

Cavs in the Classroom serves 13 local elementary schools and has over 250 student volunteers

Kaley, a Cavs in the Classroom volunteer, says “I volunteer in a third grade math class. I’ve been volunteering with the same teacher for 3 semesters so I’ve gotten to know her well which is great. The kids are awesome, and it really is a highlight of my week.”

To learn more about Cavs in the Classroom, click here.

ESOL GroupAbout 80 volunteers with Madison House’s ESOL (English Speakers of Other Languages) program work with adults and children from a variety of cultures and backgrounds to perfect their English language skills. Some volunteers work with children in need of ESOL support, helping with homework, reading, and conversation. Others help adult speakers with conversation, GED preparation, citizen test preparation, and other academic pursuits.

Here is what two ESOL volunteers from this past semester had to say about their experience:

“The student I tutored, who is normally very shy, made sure to thank me a few weeks in and tell me how much she thought I was helping her.”

“I really enjoy talking to people from different countries and hearing about their experiences.”

To learn more about the ESOL program, click here.

Xmas Decorating Vols 2014 (2)It’s time for another day of #12DaysOfMH! Medical Services, Madison House’s largest program, is an opportunity for volunteers to provide community service by assisting staff, patients, and families.

Volunteers serve at UVA Health System, Martha Jefferson Hospital, and the Charlottesville Free Clinic. In addition to increasing the capacity of medical facilities in our area, volunteers gain valuable experience for careers in medicine and patient services.

Here is a photo of volunteers from Acute Pediatrics at the University of Virginia Hospital at a tree trimming party earlier in December!

To learn more about Medical Services, click here.

Pet Pals#12DaysOfMH continues! Today, we are shining a spotlight on Madison House’s Animals & Environment program, which works with local organizations to improve the welfare of animals and steward our natural resources. Volunteers assist the Casa Alma community with their garden and small farm, planting vegetables and tending chickens, goats, and bees! Other Madison House volunteers care for the pot-bellied pigs at Gallastar Farms, Clean up parks and trails with Charlottesville Parks and Recreation, and work with PVCC students to cultivate and maintain an organic garden, producing food for local food banks and shelters.

The Animals & Environment program also includes one of Madison House’s most popular programs, Pet Pals, in which volunteers walk dogs, train puppies, and socialize cats at the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA. Karina, a volunteer with Pet Pals, shared this adorable snapshot of a kitten she cared for this past semester.

Karina says, “Something I’ve learned from volunteering for this wonderful organization is that it really doesn’t take much to make an impact in an animal’s life. I can just see their eyes light up when I approach their kennels, and I know that I’m making a difference, one animal at a time.”

To learn more, click here.

Madison House’s Youth Mentoring program partners with some of Charlottesville’s most-loved youth organizations.

Action in Reading is an after school program that helps elementary school students develop reading skills. At the Virginia Discovery Museum, volunteers encourage exhibit interaction and play, facilitating learning through exploration. And at the Music Resource Center, Madison House volunteers teach drums, guitar, piano, volcals, beat making, and audio engineering to local children.

Kelly, a volunteer for Action in Reading, says it is fun to get to know a different part of Charlottesville and she especially enjoyed getting to work with the same group of kids each week this past semester. Her favorite part is when the kids she worked with would run off the bus to come give her a hug and how excited they were about coming to the program.

To learn more about our Youth Mentoring program, click here.

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