Anna, Alix, and Marian during a volunteer shift at the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.

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.

This semester, Madison House sends 9 volunteers every week to the BRAFB’s Charlottesville distribution center as part of Hoos Assisting with Life Obstacles (HALO). HALO is a Madison House program that seeks to address the issues of hunger, homelessness, unemployment and other life obstacles in Charlottesville through seven different partnerships with local organizations like BRAFB. At the Food Bank, Madison House volunteers help to sort salvaged food, serve customers in the food relief room, and build emergency food boxes. They also are needed to make Person-in-Need Boxes, staff the Drop In Food Assistance Center, aid with Food Stamp Applications, plan food drives and solicit donations.

Anna and Marian at the BRAFB.

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.”


Marian, a Madison House volunteer, sorts cans of food at the BRAFB.

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.”

Marian, a fourth year Biology major at the University, says “I love meeting the variety of people who come through its doors, and getting a feel for the larger Charlottesville community outside of UVA. I think a lot of people who come in are nervous or ashamed when they arrive and I really enjoy making them feel welcome and comfortable, talking with them about their families, and making sure they don’t need to worry about their meals for the rest of the week. This kind of volunteering has been an excellent experience that I plan to continue elsewhere after graduation.”

Anna and Alix, Madison House volunteers, at the BRAFB.

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.”

To learn more about the HALO program, please click here and, to learn more about the BRAFB, please click here.

by Tim Freilich, Executive Director

Gordon (left), a Madison House volunteer, watches over vegetable cutting.

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.

Carlos (left), a Madison House volunteer, leads local youth in food prep at the PB&J Fund.

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:

Adopt-A-Grandparent – Helen Elizabeth Old (CLAS ’16) is a third-year from Austin, TX, majoring in English and minoring in Bioethics. She has volunteered with the Adopt-A-Grandparent Program since her first semester at U.Va., and she was previously a Program Director for Riverdale Assisted Living and The Lodge at Old Trail in Crozet. In addition to her commitments to Madison House, Helen Elizabeth’s other involvements on Grounds include U.Va. Clubs Student Ambassadors, the University Judiciary Committee, and her sorority, Chi Omega.
Animals & Environment – Polina Karachunsky (CLAS ‘16), from Fairfax, VA, is a Politics Major and is enrolled in the Accelerated Masters Program at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. She first started volunteering with Madison House as a second year transfer and has loved serving as Program Director of Pet Pals this past year. Aside from Madison House, she is a member of Student Council and is an active participant in Jewish life at UVA, including Hoos for Israel and the Jewish Education Initiative.
Athletics – Kara Anderson (CLAS ‘17) is from Nashville, Tennessee and she is a Foreign Affairs and Middle Eastern Languages double major. Kara was originally a volunteer and Program Director for SOCA Hot Shots before becoming HPD for Athletics. She is also an assistant researcher for a professor’s Minerva Initiative Project through the Department of Defense, a small group leader for Campus Crusade Christian Fellowship and a participant in the Blueprint Emerging Leaders Program.he Econ Club Tutoring Chair, and ‘Hoo Crew’s Orange Passport Chair.
Big Siblings – Caroline Vangsnes (CLAS ’16) is an Economics and Media Studies double major from Waterford, Virginia. She has been volunteering with the Big Siblings program since the beginning of her second year. Caroline looks forward to exploring Charlottesville with her little sibling every week, and you will often find the two of them in the stands at a UVA basketball game or baking dessert for Caroline’s housemates. Outside of Madison House, Caroline writes food related articles for Spoon University, a national online publication with a newly founded chapter at UVA.
Bridging the Gap – Maddie Jurden (CLAS ‘16) is from Kansas City, Kansas and majoring in Global Studies: Security and Justice. Maggie joined Bridging the Gap as a Second Year and fell in love with the good the program does for the refugee population in the Charlottesville area. She has learned so much from my mentee and other community stakeholders. When Maddie is not in class or working on BTG, you can find her cooking up a storm or volunteering with Pancakes for Parkinson’s.
CASH – Natalia Kazakevich (COMM ’16) from Rockaway, New Jersey studying at the McIntire School with a Spanish in Business minor. She has been volunteering with Madison House since her first year and is really looking forward to being the Head Program Director of CASH. Outside of CASH, she is very involved in Student Council, the University Guides Service, and Club Tennis. Next year, she will also be working as a Senior Resident in First Year Dorms and hopes to get first years more involved with Madison House!
Cavs in the Classroom – Allie Rhea (CLAS ‘16) is an Environmental Science major, minoring in Urban and Environmental Planning. She has been volunteering with Cavs in the Classroom since her first year at UVA and will return next year as the Head Program Director. Beyond her involvement in Madison House, she is a member of Pi Beta Phi and Class Council.all group.
Daycare – Alec Martin, (CLAS ’17), from Chantilly, Virginia, is pursuing a Commerce and Economics major who has been volunteering in the Daycare program at Madison House since he enrolled at the University. He has volunteered at Chancellor Street Preschool for the last two years and enjoyed being that site’s Program Director last year, as well. In addition to Madison House, Alec has worked for the UVa Football Office and has volunteered for the Salvation Army through Campus Kitchen. Alec also enjoys going to UVa sporting events in his spare time.
English Speakers of Other Languages – Nena Evans (CLAS ’16) from Mechanicsville, Virginia is a third year majoring in Statistics and minoring in Psychology. She has been volunteering with the Madison House ESOL Program since her first year and has served as Program Director since her third year. Outside of her involvement with Madison House, she is a group exercise instructor at the AFC.
HELP Line – Sruthi Poduval (SEAS ‘16) is from Herndon, VA and majoring in Biomedical Engineering. She has been with HELP Line since her first year and she is currently the Information and Referrals Program Director. Outside of Madison House, she volunteers at an immunology lab in the UVA Medical School.
Holiday Sharing – Eric MacBlane (SEAS ’16) is from Livingston, New Jersey and pursuring a double major in Systems and Information Engineering and Financial Mathematics. When Eric is not working with Holiday Sharing, you might find him taking some Honor cases or planning outreach events for Engineering Student Council.
Hoos Assisting with Life Obstacles (HALO) – Kaycee Ensign (CLAS ’16) is from Chattanooga, TN, and is double majoring in Government and Sociology and minoring in African and African-American Studies. She started volunteering with Madison House at the Haven her first year and has been a program director with HALO since her second year. Outside of her involvement with Madison House, she is the president of UNICEF at UVA and coaches U6 soccer with the YMCA on the weekends.
Housing Improvement - Trevor Jordan (BATTEN ’17) Is a Economics and prospective Batten Leadership & Public Policy Major and Leadership Minor from Mechanicsville, VA. He began volunteering with Madison House the second semester of his first year, working for Albemarle Housing Improvement Program (AHIP) and Habitat for Humanity. He also works for the JADE Lab as a Research Assistant, a member of Beta Theta Pi, and has a part-time job as a Lifeguard Supervisor for North Grounds pool.
PLAY – Emily Strait (CLAS ‘16), from Chantilly, Virginia is pursuing a double major in Economics and Political Philosophy, Policy & Law (PPL). Emily began volunteering through Madison House at Westminster Daycare Center and then moved onto volunteering at The PB&J Fund. Emily is also the Vice President of Zeta Tau Alpha, the treasurer of Hoos For A Cure, a UVa Clubs Student Ambassador, and a member of Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity.
Latino and Migrant Aid – Daniel Justus (CLAS ’16) is double majoring in Political Philosophy, Policy, and Law (PPL) and Chinese Language and Literature. from Hurley, Virginia. When not working with LAMA, he can be found philosophizing in Alderman library, working with ULink Peer Advising, representing UVA as a Student Ambassador, screening films in la Casa Bolívar, and working as an interpreter for Albemarle County.
Medical Services – Michael Zhang (CLAS ‘16) is from Roanoke, Virginia, and currently studying biochemistry. Michael has been volunteering through Medical Services since his first year and was the program director for the outpatient surgery center during my third year. Additionally, he tutors chemistry through the Cavalier Academic Support Team and English as a Second Language through Literacy Volunteers of Charlottesville/Albemarle. He also conduct undergraduate research through the chemistry department and mentor high school students through the High School Science, Technology, and Engineering Research program (HooS-STER).
Medical Services – Ian Miller (CLAS 16′) is a Biology major from Hamilton, Virginia. He has been volunteering at the UVA hospitals since his first year, and has most recently served as program director for the Emergency Department Patient Representatives. He is also involved in independent research in the Biology department, and is the philanthropy chair for Beta Theta Pi.
Recreational Therapy – Lindsay Ardiff (CLAS ’16), from Richmond, is a Human Biology major and Studio Art minor who has been involved with Madison House since her first semester at UVA. She has volunteered with Adopt-a-Grandparent and served as a Program Director for Special Olympics in Recreational Therapy. Lindsay has participated in research both through UVA’s Biology department, and through UVA-Guatemala Initiative/Jefferson Public Citizens. She also enjoys practicing Ashtanga yoga through the Contemplative Sciences Center and being a server at Lemongrass on the Corner.
Tutoring – Brianna Hogan (CLAS ’16) a Physics and French double major from Arlington, Virginia. She has been volunteering with the Madison House Tutoring Program since her first year when she became the Program Director at Walker Upper Elementary School. Brianna is thrilled about being HPD and working with the volunteers, students, and Community Partners involved with the Tutoring Program. Outside of Madison House, Brianna serves as the Vice President of the Echols Council and is a member of the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society.

Youth Mentoring – Margaret Branton (CLAS ’16) is an Economics major from Durham, North Carolina. She has been volunteering with Youth Mentoring since her second year and is currently the Program Director for Action in Reading. Aside from Madison House, she is involved with Kappa Alpha Theta and the GreenDot initiative and works for the Batten school.

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.

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

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, call (434) 977-7051, or stop by Madison House between 9:00am and 5:00pm Monday-Friday.

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