Calling all University of Virginia students! Want to make a difference this next semester? Sign up to volunteer through Madison House, your student volunteer center. There are many programs with an opportunity for every interest — from caring for animals to building houses to spending time with the elderly and beyond! Sign up at

Still trying to choose a program to volunteer with this semester? Consider English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)! You’ll meet children and adults from a variety of different cultures and no foreign language skills are necessary.

Or, consider making a positive impact on local youth this semester through PLAY! Volunteers through this Madison House program help out at various community organizations, including Boys and Girls Club, The PB &J Fund, and the Field School. Volunteers serve as mentors and role models with the local youth who need them most.

Another great program to get involved with HALO, which stands for ‘Hoos Assisting with Life Obstacles. Volunteers provide direct assistance through community partners like Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, The Haven, Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry, Inc., and many others.

Finally, a very rewarding volunteer opportunity is mentoring. Volunteer with the Youth Mentoring program through Madison House and be someone who matters to a local child. Community partners include Computers4Kids, Music Resource Center, Action in Reading, Virginia Discovery Museum, and more.

Want to learn more about the wide variety of volunteer opportunities available through Madison House? Come to the Winter Activities Fair sponsored by UVa Student Council on Tuesday, January 20th from 11:00am-2:00pm in the Newcomb Ballroom. Representatives from Madison House will be present along with 100 other CIOs from around Grounds. If you can’t make it to the activities fair, feel free to drop by Madison House between 9:00am and 5:00pm Monday-Friday to speak with our staff about how you can volunteer this semester. Questions? Please email Jennifer Walker, Director of Programs, at

LAMA volunteer in the pastUpdate: Last week, we asked you to give a total of $5,000 to help Madison House receive a matching gift and sponsor 50 volunteers in our Latino and Migrant Aid (LAMA) program. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we have accomplished our goal! If you have given to Madison House already this year, thank you. Your gift helps to ensure that we continue to provide meaningful service to members of our community throughout the academic year.

Since 1969, Madison House volunteers have provided countless hours of service to the Charlottesville community, building lasting partnerships and developing leaders. As 2014 draws to a close, we ask you, the supporters and friends of Madison House, to help us sponsor our LAMA volunteers, secure a matching gift, and reach our year-end fundraising goals.

One of the oldest programs at Madison House is Latino and Migrant Aid (LAMA), which began with University of Virginia students traveling in groups to local orchards to tutor migrant Hispanic workers in English in the 1970s. 

Today, LAMA serves the Charlottesville-Albemarle region’s Hispanic and migrant community in three ways: Homework Helpers, Hispanic Family Night, and Adult Tutoring. As part of these efforts, 30 UVa students travel from Madison House to Red Hill Elementary School every Tuesday and Thursday night to volunteer with migrant Hispanic families. Some volunteers assist children with their homework and study skills, while other volunteers work with parents to help them learn English. This group setting combats the linguistic isolation that a migrant family might otherwise experience and provides a support system to encourage the participating children to stay in school. 
As this year draws to a close, we have set an ambitious goal: sponsor 50 LAMA volunteers. Each year, Madison House spends $200 per volunteer for recruitment, training, and recognition, so it will take $10,000 to sponsor 50 LAMA volunteers. If we can raise $5,000 by December 31st, we will receive a matching gift of $5,000. That means the impact of your gift will be doubled if you support the LAMA volunteers and Madison House before December 31st.
Our volunteers, student leaders, and community partners rely on your support. Please help us as we strive to provide our volunteers with the resources they need to continue their inspiring work in our community. Thank you for being an important part of Madison House’s past, present, and future.
To give now, please click here!

On Tuesday, December 2nd, Madison House alumni, parents, and friends from near and far will come together for Giving Tuesday. A gift in any amount is meaningful.

Madison House will have a special challenge for donors on #GivingTuesday and we need your help to meet it. Two generous donors have challenged us to sponsor all 47 volunteers in our Holiday Sharing program! These students provide presents and food to brighten this season for 130 local families in partnership with the Salvation Army.

Madison House spends $200 to recruit and train each volunteer, so it will take $9,400 to sponsor all of the Holiday Sharing volunteers. If we can raise $4,400 to sponsor 22 Holiday Sharing volunteers before midnight on #GivingTuesday, then these two generous Madison House donors will give $5,000 to sponsor the remaining 25 volunteers. We can do this together!

Can’t wait for #GivingTuesday? You can give now!

GivingTuesday_graphicWe all know that after Thanksgiving there’s Black Friday, then Cyber Monday, and now Giving Tuesday – a National Day of Philanthropy.

This year, join Madison House alumni, parents, and friends around the world in celebrating Giving Tuesday and helping to support Madison House’s legacy of service among ‘Hoos. A gift in any amount is meaningful, even just $5 donated online.

You can tell everyone that you’re participating by tagging #GivingTuesday on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Please save Tuesday, December 2nd on your calendar right now and help encourage ‘Hoos today to continue to volunteer through Madison House!

CART volunteerStephanie (right) is a Charlottesville Area Riding Therapy volunteer and she is sponsored! Stephanie is a Madison House volunteer with our Recreational Therapy program which provides services and companionship to children and adults with disabilities.

She is one of the 15 UVa students sponsored through a generous $3,000 gift from Better Living Foundation.

Did you know that Madison House spends $200 to recruit and train each volunteer? A donation in that amount supports one of our 3,000 volunteers for the year. To learn more about how you can sponsor a Madison House volunteer, please click here.

HalloweenatMadisonHouse‘Hoos excited for Halloween? Madison House! Volunteers with the Big Siblings and Bridging the Gap program will be participating in UVa’s annual Trick-or-Treat on the Lawn, escorting their mentees to each of the 54 rooms along the historic Lawn.

U.Va.’s trick-or-treating tradition was begun in the 1980s by students and is open to all local community members. Children are invited to wear their Halloween costumes and take part in trick-or-treating. Candy is donated and distributed by many student groups and other organizations. Madison House volunteers and staff be helping hand out candy at Paige McDermott’s (Madison House Board of Directors co-Chair and Program Director of Bridging the Gap) room.

Additionally, Madison House will be hosting a reception in our lobby from 11:00am-12:00pm as part of UVa Family Weekend that same day. Parents and family of Madison House student volunteers are invited to stop by Madison House, say hello to staff, and enjoy snacks and beverages. We look forward to seeing everybody and we wish you a safe and happy Halloween!

The 2014-2015 Board of Directors of Madison House met for their annual retreat on Sunday, August 25.

The Board of Directors welcomed new community members Patricia Lampkin, Ned Parrish, and Katherine Rhyne, plus six new student members (profiled previously on the Madison House blog here).

During the retreat, Board Co-Chair Jennifer Bonenfant summarized the past year, including good news about Madison House’s fundraising and endowment. Board members then had breakout sessions with committees to outline goals for programming, fundraising, Board development, and more.

Get to know the newest community members of Madison House’s Board of Directors:

Patricia Lampkin is Vice President and Chief Student Affairs Officer at the University of Virginia. An adjunct professor in the Curry School of Education’s Center for the Study of Higher Education, Ms. Lampkin also teaches an undergraduate seminar on honor and ethics. She will serve on the Board’s programs committee.

Ned Parrish bring an invaluable expertise on finance, thanks to his work for Quantitative Investment Management. A graduate of the University, Mr. Parrish will serve on the Board’s fund development committee.

Katherine Rhyne retired in 2014 after 34 years of practicing law. She was a partner with King & Spalding’s Tort and Environmental Litigation Group. Ms. Rhyne is also a double ‘Hoo, having received her J.D. from the UVa Law School and her B.A. from the University. She will serve on the Board’s fund development committee.

The Madison House staff and Board of Directors are looking forward to a productive and wonderful year!

Madison House Registration
Want to make a difference? Register to volunteer with one of the nineteen different programs through Madison House, the student volunteer center at the University of Virginia.

More than 3,000 UVa students volunteer their time and energy on a weekly basis to better the community and themselves through Madison House. Volunteers serve as tutors, construction workers, day care supporters, patient service representatives, mentors, peer counselors, and much more!

Explore the many service options by clicking on “Volunteer Programs” in the menu on the Madison House website. If you have questions, you can email the program director for the volunteer program you’re interested in or you can email staff members Jennifer Walker, Director of Programs, and Yousaf Sajid, Director of Program Development & Engagement.

Online registration is now open for all Madison House programs, except for CASH, Medical Services, and Pet Pals (which have a separate application process). You can register online for a program HERE. Hurry and sign up today!

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The return of students to UVa is just around the corner, and the staff here at Madison House couldn’t be more excited to welcome new and returning volunteers! We have several events planned.

On Monday, August 25, Madison House will participate in the Fall Student Activities Fair from 11am-2pm at the UVa Amphitheatre and Lower Lawn on Central Grounds. Then, on Wednesday, September 3 from 11am-2pm, we will host a fair of our very own at the UVa Amphitheatre where students can learn about the 19 different service programs that Madison House offers, meet the program directors, and sign up to get involved!

Madison House will also host a retreat for all of the 2014-2015 Head Program Directors that same day. This event is always a highlight of the year with team-building exercises, dinner, and more. Next, on Thursday, September 4 from 3-4:30pm, Madison House will host a “Welcome Back Social” with ice cream for program leaders and student members of the Madison House board of directors.

If you’re as excited as we are about the return of student volunteers to Charlottesville, check out this fun and handy countdown to move-in day for UVa students, courtesy of the UVa Social Media Team. 

by Ben Eppard

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am an enthusiastic gardener. I spent my boyhood on a farm and to this day my family keeps a large garden at my grandmother’s house where we grow essentially all the vegetables we need for the year. Now for the past six and a half years, I’ve worked to promote student service at Madison House. In that role I use the word “volunteer” many many times each day, but in the garden this word has a different context.

A volunteer is a plant that sprouts all on its own without any work from the gardener. Many farmers plow them under, but my family can tell you that I am crazy about volunteers. I’ve hoed crooked rows and rearranged garden plans to make room for these mischievous plants. Not because they grow the way I would have done it, but because they grow all on their own, asking nothing but a little space and occasional training. In return the volunteer produces fruit. As a gardener this brings me great joy.

A few times over the years – since my definition of volunteer was broadened by Madison House – I’ve thought how our community partners and program staff experience that same joy. Last night I watched as Jennifer Walker, Madison House’s talented Director of Programs, began training next year’ s Head Program Directors. I thought about the many volunteers I’ve been privileged to watch grow. I’m grateful for the many staff and board members who have worked alongside me, and I am excited for the next season.

May we all make room to volunteer and find that same joy.

Ben Eppard departs Madison House at the end of this month. He’s going on tour in support of  a recent album and working on a book concept. More on Ben’s successor Victoria Long in the next newsletter.

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