Legacy of Service groupMadison House hosted its annual Legacy of Service event on a beautiful Wednesday afternoon earlier this month at the Colonnade Club at the University of Virginia. Students, supporters, community partners, board members, and staff enjoyed refreshments from Harvest Moon Catering while a student jazz duo performed.

The 2015 Community Partner of the Year award was presented by Executive Director Tim Freilich to Sharon Wood, the Volunteer Coordinator at Stone-Robinson Elementary School. Last year more than 700 Madison House volunteers devoted more than 10,000 hours working with kids in local schools. Volunteers serve primarily as tutors and classroom assistants in partnership with nearly 100 community partners, including Sharon.

Community Partner of the YearSharon was described by the Madison House volunteer who nominated her as “… easily the nicest and sweetest person I have met in my two years at the University of Virginia. She is always excited to meet and brainstorm ideas about how we can better the program. She also welcomes every volunteer with a smile and spreads positiveenergy wherever she goes. There is no person better for this award, and I truly feel she not only makes my job the easiest and most enjoyable in the world, but spreads her kindness, passion and love to every volunteer, teacher and student that she comes in contact with.”

Sharon has had a long and impressive career in the local school system. She been a teaching assistant, a substitute teacher, and the PTO president as well as serving for for nine years on the Albemarle County School Board. For the past six years, she has been the Volunteer Coordinator at Stone-Robinson Elementary School.

Congratulations to Sharon on this wonderful recognition as the 2015 Community Partner of the Year! To see more photos from the 2015 Legacy of Service event, please click here.

The Big Event kickoffThe Big Event took place this past Saturday and was a huge success! Through Madison House, several hundred University of Virginia students joined 110 institutions of higher education for the largest day of community service nationwide for college students.

Students got up early to gather for a kickoff event in front the John Paul Jones Arena before spreading out to 25 different volunteer sites across Charlottesville. You can see more photos of the kickoff event here.

Many organizations in the local community that help local residents in need have a wish list of projects and volunteers from The Big Event jumped in to complete those projects. For example, volunteers for The Big Event took on tasks such as painting at the Piedmont Family YMCA and picking up litter with the Rivanna Trails Foundation. You can even see ‘Hoos helping out the Rockfish Valley Community Foundation with an excavation project thanks to NBC-29 WVIR here!

Because all of Madison House’s other volunteer opportunities require a weekly commitment, The Big Event was 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. This year marks the inaugural The Big Event at Madison House and included a collaboration with Relay for Life at UVA, which was highlighted by The Cavalier Daily in this article titled “Service Never Sleeps.”

We received great feedback from the community organizations that partnered with Madison House for The Big Event, too.

The Big Event - VolunteeringPam Hallissy from the Children’s Garden in Fluvanna County said, “What a wonderful day of service it was!  The Children’s Garden in Fluvanna has never looked better thanks to the five wonderful students you sent to help us.  We so enjoyed getting to know them and working along side them for the morning.  These five were punctual, personable, and hard working and represented the University of Virginia extremely well. Thank you for allowing us to benefit from Madison House’s The Big Event and for introducing us to some more fine young ‘Hoos!”
Leah Wise from the Schoolhouse Thrift Shop said, “I just wanted to let you know that Celia, Shelley, and Prudhvi did a fantastic job today at the Schoolhouse Thrift Shop raking leaves and trimming our boxwoods! Thanks for helping with this wonderful event. We rely on volunteers for daily shop maintenance and we couldn’t do it without organizations like yours.”

Check out more photos of volunteers in action from The Big Event here!

The Big Event also made it onto the local news. Watch coverage from Charlottesville Newsplex here and from NBC-29 WVIR here.


bigsibs_blogThe Big Siblings program is a chance for a Madison House 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 child. The Big Siblings program has over 200 University of Virginia volunteers.

Bridging the Gap is a similar program for refugee children in Charlottesville in partnership with the local branch of the International Rescue Committee. The two programs collaborate on large events for their mentees several times a year.

To apply for the Big Siblings program, click here!

To apply for the Bridging the Gap program, click here!

Parents CommitteeThank you to the U.Va. Parents Fund & Committee for allocating funds for Madison House’s HELPLine program!

Because of this generous support, HELPLine volunteers will receive training from the Sexual Assault Resource Agency (SARA). HELPLine is a 24/7 anonymous and confidential listening hotline for the University of Virginia community. The program is staffed by trained UVA students and operates during the academic year. In regards to the expectations of volunteers when they receive a call; the students serve as nonjudgmental listeners and use active listening and non-directive actions to guide callers to the most appropriate resources.

Thanks to this additional funding from the U.Va. Parents Fund & Committee, SARA training will increase the knowledge and resources that HELPLine volunteers utilize when they actively listen and empower callers on this subject.

(Image credit: U.Va. Parents Fund & Committee)


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.

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!


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