#12DaysOfMH continues! Today, we are shining a spotlight on Madison House’s Animals & Environment program, which works with local organizations to improve the welfare of animals and steward our natural resources. Volunteers assist the Casa Alma community with their garden and small farm, planting vegetables and tending chickens, goats, and bees! Other Madison House volunteers care for the pot-bellied pigs at Gallastar Farms, Clean up parks and trails with Charlottesville Parks and Recreation, and work with PVCC students to cultivate and maintain an organic garden, producing food for local food banks and shelters.
The Animals & Environment program also includes one of Madison House’s most popular programs, Pet Pals, in which volunteers walk dogs, train puppies, and socialize cats at the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA. Karina, a volunteer with Pet Pals, shared this adorable snapshot of a kitten she cared for this past semester.
Karina says, “Something I’ve learned from volunteering for this wonderful organization is that it really doesn’t take much to make an impact in an animal’s life. I can just see their eyes light up when I approach their kennels, and I know that I’m making a difference, one animal at a time.”
To learn more, click here.
Action in Reading is an after school program that helps elementary school students develop reading skills. At the Virginia Discovery Museum, volunteers encourage exhibit interaction and play, facilitating learning through exploration. And at the Music Resource Center, Madison House volunteers teach drums, guitar, piano, volcals, beat making, and audio engineering to local children.
Kelly, a volunteer for Action in Reading, says it is fun to get to know a different part of Charlottesville and she especially enjoyed getting to work with the same group of kids each week this past semester. Her favorite part is when the kids she worked with would run off the bus to come give her a hug and how excited they were about coming to the program.
To learn more about our Youth Mentoring program, click here.
It’s time for another installment of #12DaysOfMH! Today, we are highlighting the volunteers of Madison House’s Day Care Program.
University of Virginia students who volunteer with Madison House’s Day Care program seek to lower the adult-to-child ratio in local day care centers, serving as positive role models and providing extra help to day care professionals. Sites include Congregation Beth Israel, Molly Michie Preschool, Chancellor Street Preschool Cooperative, and Westminster Child Care Center, one of Madison House’s oldest community partners. Madison House volunteers have been playing, singing, and reading with children at Westminster since the 1970’s.
Alec, a volunteer at Chancellor Street Preschool Cooperative, shares this memory: “Every year on Halloween, all of the kids dress up in costumes for the day while they play and do arts in crafts. Then, near the end of the day, the kids all “parade” around the side of the school in their costumes and then collect a few pieces of candy from an adult waiting around the side. It is one of my favorite activities of the year.”
Sheryl, one of 20 Madison House volunteers at Congregation Beth Israel, says “My favorite parts of volunteering at CBI include watching the children grow up through the years and the success of having a child remember your name each week!”
To learn more about the Daycare Program, click here.
We are so excited to share that the Community Endowment Fund in the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation has supported Madison House’s Creating Assets, Savings, and Hope (CASH) program with a $10,000 grant!
This upcoming tax season, 117 CASH volunteers will provide free tax preparation services to benefit low and moderate-income, elderly, and disabled families in the Charlottesville-Albemarle region.
CASH has generated strong enthusiasm from UVa students and is among Madison House’s most competitive programs: 272 applications were received for 56 open volunteer spots in September 2014.
CASH is a partner in the Thomas Jefferson Area Earned Income Tax Credit Coalition facilitated by United Way – Thomas Jefferson Area. CASH volunteers provide free tax preparation in conjunction with the IRS’ Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. CASH has consistently posted one of the lowest tax return rejection rates (less than 1%) among all VITA programs in the country.
For #12DaysOfMH today, we are shining a spotlight on the volunteers with Madison House’s Athletics program. The Athletics program has been in place at Madison House since 1969, when University of Virginia students organized boys’ basketball teams in conjunction with the local YMCA.
Madison House volunteers coach and mentor local youth athletes in partnership with SOCA ~ Soccer Organization of Charlottesville/Albemarle, McIntire Little League Baseball, YMCA Flag Football and Lacrosse, and more. Volunteers also serve as assistant coaches for the Girls on the Run program, serving as positive and encouraging role models for elementary school aged girls.
Samantha, a University of Virginia student who volunteers her time with Girls on the Run, says: “At the end of our season, we run a 5k with other girls from all across the state in Lynchburg at Sweet Briar College. It was so great to see all of my girls who have been training all semester be able to put all of their hard work to use and to finish a race together! It means so much to be able to be a positive influence in these young girls’ lives and to form special bonds with each one of them.”
To learn more about the Athletics program at Madison House, click here.
Today for #12DaysOfMH, we are excited to highlight the service of our more than 70 Housing Improvement Program (HIP) volunteers! HIP partners with Albemarle Housing Improvement Program (AHIP), Habitat for Humanity of Greater Charlottesville, and The Habitat Store.
Morgan, a University of Virginia student who is a volunteer program director for HIP says, “It was great seeing my volunteers learn how to do siding, drywall, landscaping, painting, and more. A substanial fraction of our volunteers our architecture students who want hands on exposure to building. HIP is awesome because we expose our volunteers to areas of Charlottesville or Albemarle students might not ever see. This helps volunteers become acquainted with the land, making them feel more at home and connected with the community.”
It’s not all work, though. HIP volunteers also have fun together. They went on a hike together this fall and had a Thanksgiving celebration together. “My favorite memories have been made on site joking around with my volunteers,” says Morgan. “It was funny watching my volunteers technique in climbing scaffolding, which sadly they did much better than me.”
Sam, another UVa student who is a volunteer program director and serves weekly at the The Habitat Store says, “We all really got to learn the importance of every task (no matter how big or small it may seem) makes a huge difference in helping the Habitat Store. Also, we are all probably a lot more skilled in putting together and repairing furniture now! Volunteering with everyone makes for a great time and allows for people to really get to know each other better while bettering the world one small project at a time.” Sam coordinates 9 other UVa student volunteers at the Habitat Store. She adds, “I honestly feel so close with each and every of my wonderful volunteers!”
To learn more about HIP, click here.
Recreational Therapy volunteers serve in partnership with several local organizations that provide specialized recreation, rehabilitation and companionship services, including Albemarle County Post High, Charlottesville Area Riding Therapy (CART), Therapeutic Adventures, Region Ten’s Meadowcreek Center, Health South Recreational Rehabilitation, Special Olympics, and the Arc of the Piedmont.
These different organizations represent a broad spectrum of needs. For example, the Albemarle County Post High helps students with moderate and severe disabilities transition from high school to an independent-living environment by providing them with vocational training and independent living skills. There, Recreational Therapy volunteers either converse with the students over lunch and participate in a variety of activities such as drawing, playing games, and doing puzzles. Volunteers have the option to accompany Post-High students to outsourced activities such as Yoga, Tai-Chi classes, the recreational center, or job sites.
Therapeutic Adventures is another branch of the Recreational Therapy program. About 40 volunteers are committed to helping with their adaptive ski programming in January and February. These volunteers have already participated in an off-the-slopes training session and are currently participating in on-the-slopes training this week. Volunteers also bonded by going on a hike this fall. Bethany, a volunteer with Therapeutic Adventures, says “My favorite memory volunteering is always the annual, end-of-season race – the Independence Cup. All of our clients come back to participate, and it’s always a blast! The volunteers and staff of Therapeutic Adventures dress up in ridiculous costumes too, so that adds an additional element of craziness and fun.”
CART helps both children and adults with disabilities improve their physical, mental, and emotional skills by learning to ride horses in a fun environment. Morgan, a volunteer with CART, says, “[Our annual horse show in October] was definitely our favorite event of the year, with a special costume class that the students all enjoyed. My favorite memory was seeing all of the volunteers bond with the students, even watching emotional goodbyes (or ‘see you laters’ until the spring) at the end of the semester. The bonds that many of the volunteers formed with the students was amazing.”
To learn more about the Recreational Therapy program, click here!
For today’s installment of Twelve Days of Madison House, we are highlighting the awesome work of our Tutoring program!
Madison House’s Tutoring program provides personal academic attention to students at local schools including Agnor-Hurt Elementary School, Buford Middle School, Charlottesville High School, and many more. Working one-on-one or in small groups, student volunteers from the University of Virginia establish meaningful relationships with local students and track their academic improvement throughout the year. Tutoring has been part of Madison House since its inception, including a tutoring program called “Project Buckingham” for underprivileged students in Buckingham County that kicked off in April 1969.
One volunteer named Ashley says, “I tutored a third grader named Cody at this fall. My favorite memory is doing the “I Spy” books with Cody. We would start and by the end if we couldn’t find one, we got other kids involved to come help us look! It was so funny to see all the kids come together, so determined to find the object. They provided a great display of teamwork!”
Alex, another volunteer with Tutoring, adds “The other day, a mother told us that tutoring is one of the best things for her child right now. This really validated a lot!”
Kate, also a Tutoring volunteer, shared the impact that volunteer has made on her this semester: “My favorite part of tutoring is when I walk into my classroom at Burnley Moran and the student’s eyes light up and they are so excited to get to work with me. I find it so rewarding to be able to give back and help ignite someone else’s education, since I am so thankful for the opportunities I have received, which would be wasted if it didn’t help another student’s success.”
To learn more about the Tutoring program, click here.
For the first installment of Twelve Days of Madison House, we are shining a spotlight on PLAY. Volunteers in Madison House’s PLAY program serve as mentors at a variety of after school programs. Community partners in the PLAY program include:
– Boys and Girls Club of Cherry Avenue, where kids get their homework out of the way first, then enjoy ping pong, arts and crafts, basketball, and board games with their Madison House mentors.
– Blue Ridge Commons, where Madison House volunteers engage in enrichment activities with children of newly immigrated families from Solmalia, Sudan, Burma, and other parts of the world.
– and The PB & J Fund, which connects Charlottesville youth with the resources and knowledge necessary to help develop a healthy diet. Madison House volunteers assist the PB&J fund instructors with food preparation and instruction while enjoying healthy snacks and meals with local families.
Ryan, a University of Virginia student who volunteers with PLAY says, “My favorite memory from PLAY this fall was running full-court basketball with the kids, volunteers, and even staff [at the Boys and Girls Club of Cherry Avenue]. I have three younger brothers, so spending time at the Boys & Girls Club has been a great way for me to continue to interact and be a mentor to younger kids. The UVa community has experienced a rough past few months. PLAY has been a refreshing outlet from all the recent events on grounds, even if for only for a few hours a week.”
Check back tomorrow for the next installment of Twelve Days of Madison House!
This time of year, we like to take a moment to appreciate the efforts of our hardworking volunteers and student leaders. Starting December 13th, we’ll be presenting the Twelve Days of Madison House. Please check in with us each day on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as we highlight twelve of the programs that make Madison House such an important part of the Charlottesville-Albemarle community. We’ll tag each post with #12DaysOfMH and share photos, stories, and quotes. We hope you’ll comment with your own Madison House memories.