We’d like to introduce our newest staff member – Maggie Patton (CLAS ’07) – who began as Madison House’s Director of Annual Fund and Alumni Relations last week.

Maggie comes to Madison House from James Madison’s Montpelier where she served as Associate Director of Corporate and Foundation Giving. She is a 2007 grad from the University of Virginia, and completed her Masters degree at the University of Chicago’s Divinity School. She has also previously worked as Education Manager at one of Madison House’s many community partners – the Virginia Discovery Museum.

Additionally, Maggie supports local nonprofits and volunteers her time through the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation’s Future Fund. Maggie is excited to help secure the financial support that makes Madison House’s work possible and to work with its talented and dedicated alumni.

Volunteers from Housing Improvement pitched in to help assemble furniture on a frosty Sunday afternoon.

by Yousaf Sajid

This fall Madison House received a generous grant from U.Va.’s Parents Committee to refurbish and modernize the space used by the HELPLine program. The HELPLine program serves as a free, anonymous, and confidential telephone service serving the Charlottesville and University communities. Volunteers provide callers with a nonjudgmental, empathetic ear for any issue the caller wishes to discuss. Each semester prospective HELPLine volunteers register for the program and then must take part in a full semester training program prior to serving as a volunteer. The training program is student run and advised by Madison House staff and professionals at U.Va.’s Counseling and Psychological Services.

Student interest in the program has grown and thus training space and training tools were a top priority entering the school year. The Parents Committee grant allowed the training room to expand in size with renovations taking out two built in cubicle walls. Additionally new furniture, carpet, window treatments, and a new paint job have transformed the space into a professional training environment. The renovated training room allows 15-20 students and three student trainers to comfortably fit in the space and utilize training tools like the large whiteboard. The HELPLine training room is the first stop for a new volunteer; the staff and students at Madison House are very thankful to the Parents Committee for their continued support of student volunteer service.

Executive Director Melissa Young with Head Program Directors Coles Lawton and Mike Rusie.

by Melissa Young, Executive Director

Embarking on a new semester, all of us at Madison House want to express our appreciation to those who made the last one so successful in so many ways:

To the 19 exemplary Head Program Directors and 185 Program Directors who make community service possible for thousands of University of Virginia students. Since Madison House adheres to a unique “train the trainer” student leadership development model, these student leaders make volunteerism a reality for U.Va. students. At the beginning of the fall semester they went into high gear recruiting volunteers for the 19 service programs they lead. Recruiting fairs, dashboard flyers and personal solicitations resulted in filling every volunteer spot requested by our Community Partners. Then came the training sessions, and in many cases, logistical nightmares of scheduling, followed by managing and motivating their volunteers throughout the semester. Kudos on a terrific job.

To the thousands of student volunteers who provide weekly service throughout central Virginia impacting an estimated 20,000 residents. These are the students who leave the “bubble” of University life every week to help others in need. Yes, they gain a valuable perspective and empathy for others—but let’s not forget they could be doing a myriad of things college students typically do. Instead, they are building a bridge to the community where they reside; they are making a difference in the lives of many less fortunate.

To the Community Partners who provide invaluable service to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area. These partners—important providers of public service—spend considerable time and effort interacting with our volunteers, making the Madison House experience one of the most worthwhile available for UVa students. We cherish their dedication to residents of this area and to our student volunteers.

To the Board members—past and present–who give of their time and energy to advance our mission. Twenty one individuals—students, University faculty and staff, and community members—currently have made a commitment to serve Madison House as members of our Board of Directors. Hundreds of others have served in this capacity over the 44 years of our existence. We are grateful to each one who has worked to make Madison House a success.

To our supporters who by their charitable donations permit Madison House to continue in operation, fulfilling a mission of leadership, community and service. Make no mistake, as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit, we are lucky to survive and thrive. Madison House receives no direct support from the University and struggles to get contributions since so many assume we are just another unit of UVA. This misconception hampers our ability to raise funds and we are enormously grateful for each and every gift that allows us to keep our doors open.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2014,

Melissa and the Staff of Madison House

by Melissa Young, Executive Director

When I noticed the black streaks descending from the tops of the columns on the front porch, I thought there was some minor water damage. But when the team from U.Va. Facilities came, they warned me that we needed to find where the water had come from. They determined the gutters around the balcony had “rusted out” and when they peeled back the trim from the beam above the columns, they found it to be rotten and eaten by termites! Extensive remodeling was necessary to maintain the safety and integrity of our entryway.

Today, the gutters are shiny and new, wood beams and trim installed and painted; our entrance has never looked better. I only wish I could say the same for our bank balance!

This is  just an example of the kind of expenses which must be met in order to maintain Madison House – a building that dates to 1975 – as a home away from home for tomorrow’s leaders. If you thought that Madison House doesn’t need your financial support, you would be mistaken. An independent 501(c)(3) non-profit, we receive no direct financial support from the University. Grant dollars are not as plentiful as in years past.  Without private contributions, we could not function.

Without Madison House, how would the 3,243 University students who volunteered last year have served the community?  What would our Community Partners have done without the 110,000 hours of service provided? And what about the 20,000 community residents impacted by our volunteers?  What about them?

Thankfully, Madison House is supported by many dedicated friends and alumni.  The new porch was not budgeted – but we’ll manage to pay the bill.  But please know how valued and needed the support of our alumni and friends is. As you consider your end-of-year giving, please consider Madison House.  We would be very grateful.


Students who don’t speak English as their first language struggle with daily challenges both in and out of school. The ESOL program places U.Va. students in the classroom with these students to help bridge the language gap. The program is not a miracle worker overnight. It demands volunteers who are diligent, patient, and dedicated to helping individual students learn English. Lizzie is one of these volunteers. I met with her to learn more about her experiences as an ESOL volunteer.

Lizzie is a second year hoping to double major in Global Development Studies and Religious Studies (with a minor in Art too!) She became a volunteer her first year and explained that she was drawn to the program due to her love of travel. One thing that struck me was a simple statement: “Americans travel to other places and struggle with the language barrier there. Imagine how hard it is for immigrants to come to the United States and deal with the language barrier every day.” After graduation, Lizzie wants to work for a NGO or join the PeaceCorps.

Lizzie shared the stories of students she has worked with through the ESOL program. One student named John, at the local Charlottesville High School, was incredibly attentive, driven, and wanted to be successful at learning English. Witnessing the daily struggles ESOL students face, Lizzie has grown to admire the teacher she works with this year, Ms. Germino. She expressed the hope to embody Ms. Germino’s commitment to her students.

If you’re interested in joining the ESOL program or learning more, sign-ups for next semester will be available soon. Lizzie shared that her experiences have been eye-opening in understanding first-hand that not everyone has access to resources UVA students do. The program is a great way to facilitate ESOL students with accessing language tools and give back to the Charlottesville community.

Sally Lebeau, Director of Volunteer Services, and Patricia Cluff, Associate Vice President for Marketing and Strategic Relations, from U.Va. Health System present a check to Jeree Harris and Stephen West, co-chairs of the Madison House Board of Directors.

On September 24, 2013 representatives from the University of Virginia Health System joined the  Madison House Board of Directors to award Madison House a generous grant of $2,500. The grant will help fund Madison House’s student-leadership training program, providing specialized training to enhance student leaders’ ability to manage their programs and stimulate positive change throughout the community.

Geoff Johnson’s story began last year and we’re excited to see the next chapter unfold on November 3rd. He has chosen to combine his two loves of running and community service to make a difference in the world around him.

Geoff and his little sib, while a student at the University of Virginia

A 2010 graduate of UVA, he served as a Madison House Program Director for Latino and Migrant Aid and volunteer for Big Siblings. Geoff contacted our staff last summer and said that he wanted to run the New York City Marathon and fundraise in honor of Madison House. Sadly, because of the devastation inflicted by Hurricane Sandy, the race was canceled. But in the truest spirit of service and community, Geoff gave his time to help with the clean-up work for residents of New York City hit by the storm. He then chose to run the Richmond marathon 2 weeks later.

This tenacious young alumnus was undeterred by last year’s race cancellation and instead has chosen to raise the stakes this year and run the New York City Marathon for Madison House and the Badlands Sustainability project. He has shared entertaining updates of his training runs along the way with us ranging from running in St. Petersburg, Russia to running 16 miles from his D.C. apartment to his parent’s home in Maryland.

In addition to Madison House, Geoff is raising money for the Badland Sustainability Project.

Geoff’s final challenge to us is that we have: One Week to Choose Your Own Adventure!

“Thank you to everyone who has shown such tremendous support for my running and fundraising these past months. I am sincerely and deeply grateful, and know that Madison House and the Badlands Natural History Association are, as well! For those who would still like to share the love, don’t forget that there’s still time to choose your own adventure and support one of their three amazing causes!

Madison House Friends and Alumni, let’s gather around one of our own and help Geoff write the last chapter of his story and support his run this week! No matter where we are in the world, let’s cheer Geoff on as he runs on Saturday.


By Yousaf Sajid, Director of Program Development & Engagement

On the evening of October 11th, screams of surprise and joy could be heard all across Charlottesville. That’s because children and volunteers in the Madison House Big Siblings and Bridging the Gap programs received the once in a lifetime opportunity to have tea with a real Disney princess and stars from the Disney on Ice: Princesses and Heroes.

Disney on Ice generously treated 50 pairs of mentees and mentors to a private tea party and provided tickets to the ice show. The night began with Madison House staff directing mentors and mentees through the rain to the secret back entrance of John Paul Jones arena. Once inside, the Disney on Ice organizers gathered everyone to the Disney tea room equipped with snacks, coloring book activities, and of course, plenty of tea! Ice skaters and actors spent time with groups of mentees and their mentors while everyone was anxiously awaiting a special guest to arrive.

A knock was heard at the door and a little sib jumped out of her chair and raced for the door knob. When she pulled the door open, Princess Belle emerged. Cheers and applause erupted in the tea house. Pairs of little sibs and their mentors giddily waited in line to greet Belle and take a picture with her. The children were ecstatic to meet Belle and at times it seemed that the volunteers were even more excited to meet a princess!

The most special moment of the night was seeing the faces on all of the little sibs and mentees when Belle walked into the tea room. The element of surprise cultivated a sense of joy and wonder for little sibs and mentees. In that moment the children felt that anything was possible and that anything and everything positive could happen in their lives; including getting the chance to have tea with a Disney princess!


by Jennifer Walker, Director of Programs

Madison House has gotten off to a great start!  Program Directors and staff members enthusiastically handed out a record 3,500 Madison House flyers at the Activities Fair.  Registration opened and many programs have quickly filled up, while others are still recruiting to fill spots.  Madison House leaders have put in a lot of time these first few weeks.  The Head Program Directors enjoyed a Fall leadership retreat in August where they planned for their programs for the year, learned techniques for overseeing PDs and volunteers, and bonded with their fellow HPDs.  The Program Directors have hit the ground running by participating in the Program Director Summit, actively recruiting at the Madison House fair and general Activities Fair, attending Program Advisory Meetings (PAMs), and getting their volunteers signed up!  As a reward, Madison House held an ice cream social catered by Arch’s for MH Student Leaders!


Melissa Youngby Melissa Young

I came on board as the new Executive Director just as the school year was starting.  So – like the First Years arriving on Grounds a bit overwhelmed by everything new – I am greatly excited by what’s ahead.

Although I’ve been on Rugby Road just a few weeks, here’s what I know so far:

1.  A terrific team had been assembled by Elizabeth and I am indebted to her for bringing together such a dedicated and capable staff:  Jennifer leading Programs; Yousaf handling alumni council, grants and some programs;  Anna managing the office; Julie directing our critical Annual Fund and Ben wearing many hats in addition to his primary role in communications.  They have all been very welcoming and I am grateful.  (Also grateful for our latest wonderful addition,  Americorps VISTA participant Irteza Binte-Farid, a recent Stanford grad and Charlottesville native who will assist with mentoring programs this year.)

2.  The Head Program Directors (HPDs) and Program Directors (PDs) are enthusiastic and committed.  I can attest that these leaders are phenomenal examples of what Madison House is all about:  service and leadership.  They walk the walk and talk the talk.  Excitement is contagious and volunteer recruits to the 19 different service programs are many.  Training has commenced and volunteering begins next week.

In sum, Madison House is on track as it begins its 44th year.  If you are an alum, please know that we will endeavor always to maintain the standard of excellence you embodied.  If you are a friend, be assured our commitment to the community and its citizens is unwavering.

And please know you have an open invitation to visit 170 Rugby Road any time.  We’d be delighted to see you.


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