Recently, several ‘Hoos in the Class of 2015 were profiled by UVA Today and all of them are either current Madison House volunteers or devoted some time to volunteering through Madison House during their undergraduate careers. It is inspiring to see how volunteer service was interwoven with the other accomplishments of this diverse group of students.

Adria_Penatzer_05_DACheck out this profile of UVA student Adria Penatzer who is graduating as a highly decorated second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Adria was also a volunteer with our English as a Second Language (ESOL) program for two semesters during her undergraduate career. Adria says, “I’ve learned a lot about myself as a leader, particularly how I need to improve to be the best officer I can be. I think one of the biggest leadership lessons I’ve learned is how important it is to have empathy, and to be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes before you make a decision affecting someone else.”

Moran_Chen_18_DANext, read this profile of UVA student Morgan Chen: “Along with setting a new record in a highly challenging and pioneering area of physics, UVA Class of 2015 student Moran Chen also has served as a volunteer though Madison House’s Adopt-A-Grandparent program. For more than two years, Chen has visited with a woman, now 89, at Golden Living, an elder care center in Charlottesville.

‘She is 60 years older than I am, and we’ve become friends,’ Chen said. ‘I have grandparents in China, I miss them, and I thought how lonely and boring it might be to be older and not living at home. I would want companionship and someone to visit and make me happy. So I have done this and I believe it has been helpful to her.'” Read more via UVA Today!

Brendan_Evans_04_DAThis profile of Brendan Evans, a member of the Class of 2015 is also an inspirational story: “Evans was 18 when he won the doubles title at the 2004 Wimbledon Junior Championships, played on the tennis world’s most famous lawn courts. He played on Wimbledon’s grass courts six more times in the course of his professional tennis career. At 24, Evans closed the book on his nine-year professional career and turned to a new dream: a great college education [at the University of Virginia]. 

Outside of class, Evans continued a habit of volunteering that began on tour when players visited schools, hospitals and charities in host cities. Evans loved that part of the tour and sought out similar opportunities in Charlottesville, eventually serving as a Program Director for the Madison House’s Cavs in the Classroom program.” Read the full profile via UVA Today!

Duke_01_SSFinally, meet James Duke, a member of the UVA Class of 2015 who found time to volunteer through Madison House while also balancing many impressive accomplishments. As UVA Today reports:

“Closer to home, James Duke’s service as an English tutor through the English Speakers of Other Language (ESOL) and Latino & Migrant Aid (LAMA) programs at Madison House has played into his work in poetry, and it has helped him develop an empathy for migrants in the U.S. that he’ll take with him after his time at the University of Virginia comes to a close.

‘Seeing how migrant populations have affected American culture, and continue to affect American culture is important to recognize, because they’re typically a group whose story doesn’t always get told,’ he said.” Read more via UVA Today!

Whether a student volunteers through Madison House every semester or just for one, we are thankful for their generosity in making our community a better place.

Image credit: Rammelkamp Foto

Image credit: Rammelkamp Foto

Check out Madison House on the cover of the May 6th issue of the C-VILLE Weekly! Madison House was named one of “five local non-profits lifting our community” and a profile of Madison House was included in an article titled “Give Us A Hand: Five Local Nonprofits Worth Your Attention.” Here is an excerpt:

“Stroll down Rugby Road on any given day and you’ll see students shuffling to class while others fling Frisbees and play music as they socialize in Mad Bowl, the grassy field at the northeast corner of Rugby and University Avenue. College life may look relaxing to a passerby, but many of these same students also dedicate hours to service outside of the classroom on a daily basis. Between Beta Bridge and the University Grounds lies Madison House, an independent nonprofit organization that connects student volunteers with more than 100 nonprofits and other programs across Charlottesville.

‘Volunteering with the Big Siblings Program has made a hugely positive impact on my UVA experience,’ said UVA third-year Maria Mencini, one of Madison House’s 220 student program directors. Madison House’s Big Siblings Program pairs a UVA student with an at-risk local child, and Mencini’s been working with the same girl for two years. ‘Every week, I look forward to being a kid again with my little sib, whether we are seeing a movie, going bowling or making cupcakes at my apartment,’ she said.”

Click here to read the full article!

HELPLine in 2011Madison House’s HELPLine program is incredibly thankful and humbled to be selected as the beneficiary of the 6th Will Barrow Memorial Flag Football Tournament.

On Saturday, November 8, members of the University of Virginia men’s lacrosse team hosted the Sixth Annual Will Barrow Memorial Flag Football Tournament. This event is a way for the men’s lacrosse team to make a difference in the community and to honor the remembrance of a member of the lacrosse program. Sixteen teams squared off in a flag football tournament on Lambeth Field at UVA. The teams included UVA lacrosse alumni, current members of other college programs, and members of other University organizations.

The event was created by UVA lacrosse alum Max Pomper in 2009 to celebrate Will’s life, raise awareness for suicide prevention, and raise money and awareness for the HELPLine. The event brings the University community, Charlottesville community, and college lacrosse community together to honor Will’s memory.

Will Barrow was a Virginia lacrosse captain who graduated in 2007. He was a member of the 2006 National Championship team and a leader in the University community. Tragically, Will took his own life in November 2008. Will was arguably the most talented defensive midfielder in the country during his career at UVA. He was also a highly recruited football player out of high school and the flag football tournament honors his love for the game of football.

The $4,066.84 raised from the tournament is donated in Will’s name to the HELPLine, a free, confidential resource for members of the community to call during a personal crisis. HELPLine volunteers provide callers with an empathetic ear for any issue that the caller wishes to discuss. Volunteers are trained to listen to callers with issues ranging from relationship issues to sexual assault to suicide.

Lia CattaneoThree current Madison House volunteers have won prestigious awards recently.

Lia Cattaneo, a Class of 2016 student who serves on Madison House’s Board of Directors, was awarded the prestigious Truman Scholarship. The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation was created by Congress in 1975 to select and support the next generation of public service leaders. In her interview with UVA Today, Cattaneo said, “Receiving the Truman Fellowship will emphasize my commitment to the policy aspects of climate and energy and will keep my career grounded in public service.” Click here to read more!

Shantell Bingham, a Class of 2015 student and the Head Program Director of our Bridging the Gap program, received a $10,000 grant as part of the Dalai Lama Fellowship. Here is an excerpt from the UVA Today profile about her volunteer service:

Shantell BinghamAs a first-year student, Bingham coached a local youth soccer team, where she met the girl she would formally mentor when volunteering with Madison House’s Bridging the Gap program during her second year.

“I love this program for mentoring refugee kids,” said Bingham, who directs Bridging the Gap this year. Bingham has maintained her relationship with her Tanzanian mentee, now 14. They like to take walks together, often taking photos, a common interest that she has nurtured and shared with the teen.

Mostly, I’ve been someone she can talk to and be an emotional support for,’ Bingham said, adding that the girl’s family has had a rough time between the refugee camp and the transition to American life.

Anna Cait WadeAdditionally, Anna Cait Wade, a Class of 2015 student, received a $10,000 grant as part of the Davis Projects for Peace award. Anna Cait will spend her summer working with the Mariposa DR Foundation, a non-governmental organization working to end generational poverty in the Dominican Republic by empowering adolescent girls. Aside from her other remarkable accomplishments and commitments, Anna Cait still found time to volunteer with our ESOL program last semester and she volunteers with our Hoos Assisting with Life Obstacles (HALO) program this semester. Click here to read more!

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!


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