UVA Parents CommitteeThe 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.

Madison House volunteers during a shift with AHIP at the Southwood neighborhood in February 2015.

Madison House volunteers during a shift with AHIP at the Southwood neighborhood in February 2015.

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.

CASH volunteers on NewsplexMadison 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!


Tim Freilich

Tim Freilich

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 tim@madisonhouse.org.

To read a Q&A with Tim on UVA Today, please click here, and to read an article about Tim in The Cavalier Daily, please click here.

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!

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 jennifer@madisonhouse.org, 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 www.madisonhouse.org/registration.

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 jennifer@madisonhouse.org.

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.

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