Madison House volunteers, staff and board helped repaint the Salvation Army Thrift Store on Feb 4 & 5.

This Edition’s Stories

From San Salvador to Charlottesville: A Student’s Experience with Service

by Kyle Rudzinski, Madison House Alumni Council

Passion for Madison House

by Elizabeth Bass, Executive Director

3 Ways Madison House is Leveraging Technology

by Ben Eppard, Director of Communications

A Conversation with Anne Allen

Volunteer Q & A

Creating a Culture of Student Philanthropy

by Melissa Leecy, Director of Development and Alumni Relations

MH in the News

Student Volunteers Offer Tax-Preparation Help

UVA Today Covers One of Madison House’s Most Popular Programs
January 2012


We’re Now Accepting Applications for the Madison House Alumni Council

Reconnect with Charlottesville and build on the University’s tradition of life-long service. Apply to join the Madison House Alumni Council today!

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For service opportunities, stories from Grounds, and ways to connect with Madison House, check out the Madison House Alumni Twitter feed @MHAlumni


José is a program director for Migrant and Latino Aid.

From San Salvador to Charlottesville: A Student’s Experience with Service

by Kyle Rudzinski, Madison House Alumni Council

Third year José Edwin Argueta Funes came to the United States to attend the University of Virginia. Immediately, he immersed himself on Grounds and began to make the Charlottesville community his community.

“I learned about Madison House at the volunteer fair in fall 2009. I was a bright-eyed first year looking for ways of getting involved in the surrounding community.”

Ever since Program Directors with the Migrant and Latino Aid program won over José’s heart at that fair, he hasn’t looked back. Two and a half years later, the trilingual Bolivár Network Scholar now leads other volunteers as a Program Director. He builds on his personal experiences, shares them with his volunteers and with Latino students in Charlottesville.

“Growing up, I was very aware of the language barrier between my home and my school. Some of my experiences were not easily translatable, and that made me very aware of my expressive power and its limitations.

“Several times I grew frustrated and felt like I had to parse my experiences into two distinct selves. When I learned about Migrant and Latino Aid, I realized that my experiences could help kids who are experiencing the same barriers I experienced growing up.”

José understands the challenges firsthand that young people face as their families transition from life abroad to life in Charlottesville. So, while Migrant and Latino Aid serves adult and students, José primarily works with middle and high schoolers to help bridge language and cultural gaps between home and school. Ultimately, José knows that bridging that gap can lead to a more satisfying, productive experience for students.

José now recruits his peers to help bridge that gap. Just as he was once convinced by Program Directors to volunteer, he’s now bringing others on board with the program.

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Passion for Madison House

by Elizabeth Bass, Executive Director

As a staff member at Madison House, I feel like I show my passion for our work on a pretty regular basis. It’s a great feeling to want to go to work in the morning! Even on Valentine’s Day, our staff are happy doing hundreds of behind-the-scenes tasks to keep Madison House running smoothly. Don’t you see those smiles?


But it’s our students and our alumni who are truly making a difference, and who show their passion for Madison House in their daily lives, actively making the most of their service opportunities.

Mary Lacy is a volunteer and Head Program Director for Adopt-A-Grandparent. She is one of the most dedicated, passionate students I have met, and she truly loves to hang out with Doris at the nursing home. She never misses the chance to visit, and to sit and listen and brighten someone else’s day.


Maeve is a former volunteer and Program Director from the Big Siblings program, and graduated a few years ago from U.Va. She emailed me last week to give me an update, and to let me know that she is still volunteering while working full-time. But even more touching was her update about her Little Sibling, Carla, who she is still in touch with and came to visit last month to see a women’s basketball game at JPJ. “She had so much fun and was amazed at the magnamity of the stadium. Carla was 6 years old when I first met her as a 2nd year. Now she is 11 and is getting ready to go to middle school! She is getting straight A’s and even says that she is the smartest person in the class. When I first met her, she knew nothing about college and told me that she wanted to be a waitress like her mom when she grew up. Now she is planning on going to college and is already asking me about applications!”


Mary Lacy’s and Maeve’s stories are just two examples of the kinds of experiences that thousands of Madison House students and alumni have every day. There is something intangible that happens when you are a part of your community and you actively engage in service—of any kind. It is a privilege to watch students make that connection during their time at school, and then to hear from alumni who continue to make those connections in their post-grad lives.

If you are passionate about what Madison House is and does, we want to hear from you! We love to hear your stories; we value and truly need your financial support; and most of all, we want to know that the experiences you have as a volunteer follow you beyond Grounds. Show us your passion for Madison House!

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3 Ways Madison House is Leveraging Technology

by Ben Eppard, Director of Communications

In the non-profit world budget limitations are fairly standard. Non-Profit seminars and workshops are invariably filled with “war stories” about small budgets and short staffs. Having a lean budget may not differentiate Madison House, but we’re working to set ourselves apart by making a huge impact with what we’re given. Here are three big technological changes we’ve made in the last eight months that are helping us do a better job with less.


By now you’ve almost certainly heard of “the cloud,” but just in case I’ll give a quick definition. “The cloud” is a buzzword that describes computer programs or services you’re able to access online, instead of running locally on your machine.

Last summer we moved all of our digital files to a cloud based file-sharing service called Dropbox. Now the Madison House staff and student leaders can access all of our digital files from anywhere we have Internet, and the service is much more economical than maintaining our old physical server which was no longer reliable.


Early last year, Google released a tool called Google for Non-Profits. In short, it is a suite of business-grade Google tools available for free to qualifying non-profits. Madison House was accepted into the program early last fall, which enabled us to migrate our email to a Gmail powered platform and drastically reduce staff time spent maintaining our email system. Google for Non-Profits also includes business-grade YouTube, Google Groups and Google Grants, a program through which Google donates ad placement on search results. We’re looking forward to what we can do with these other tools.


Last month we rolled out a new Website, which was designed entirely in-house. We made it using feedback from students, alumni, board members, and a little old fashioned staff effort. We’ve already seen our traffic rise. More people are spending longer finding out about Madison House online, and we’ve received a lot of positive feedback from people that care about Madison House.

The new site was especially important, because of our move to online volunteer registration, a technological change we’ve made gradually over the last two years, allowing student leaders to recruit their peers online. This has helped students communicate the importance of service to an increasingly “plugged-in” generation.

All of these changes have improved our operations and reduced cost. We’re proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish with technology and how we’re doing more with less. Bring on the non-profit seminars.

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Anne is an Adopt-a-Grandparent volunteer.

A Conversation with Anne Allen

Volunteer Q & A

How long have you been a volunteer with Madison House?

I have volunteered with Madison House since 2008, but I began volunteering for the Adopt-a-Grandparent program last September.

How did you end up volunteering for Madison House?

I have been pre-med since I entered UVA, so I have done several Medical Services Madison House programs. I joined Adopt-a-Grandparent this year to get more one-on-one time. I read about the program on the Madison House website, filled out the application, and was accepted and assigned to Mary Williams Senior Center.

Why Adopt-a-Grandparent?

I volunteer with the Charlottesville Albemarle Rescue Squad 15 hours a week as an EMT and ambulance driver. Many of the 911 calls we respond to are for nursing home residents. These are the some of the most heartbreaking calls. I joined Adopt-a-Grandparent to try to put a little more joy into the lives of a portion of the Charlottesville population that is often forgotten and overlooked.

What’s the best or funniest or weirdest thing that has ever happened while you’ve been volunteering for the organization?

My favorite volunteer experience with Adopt-a-Grandparent was when I watched a documentary with a woman named Fran. It was called Young at Heart and was about a chorus of elderly singers. Fran and I had so much fun dancing in our chairs and singing during the whole movie.

What is the ONE thing you’d like readers to know about Adopt-a-Grandparent?

Volunteering with Adopt-a-Grandparent has not just been about giving my time to those I work with at Mary Williams Senior Center. I get so much out of volunteering. The members of Mary Williams have taught me about Charlottesville’s history and told me wonderful, entertaining stories about their pasts. Thanks to them, I have a great time whenever I am at Mary Williams, and I look forward to volunteering every week.

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On Feb 4 & 5 Madison House Volunteers Repainted the Salvation Army Thrift Store.

Creating a Culture of Student Philanthropy

by Melissa Leecy, Director of Development and Alumni Relations

There is a movement afoot within Madison House’s own walls … over the past year, student leaders have asked ‘how can we support Madison House’ beyond our own weekly service work while on Grounds? The answer has been multifaceted, ranging from students writing thank you notes to donors to giving time on a weekend of service that garnered Madison House a $5,000 gift. Volunteers and leaders are demonstrating their passion for Madison House by creating a culture of philanthropy and support before they even graduate and begin to support Madison House as an alumnus. Students are proving that philanthropic passion for Madison House begins ‘at home’.

All Madison House donors receive a handwritten thank you note from a student leader to acknowledge their generous support. This year Development Office Assistant, Caroline Wood ’12, asked what more could we do to thank our donors for their inspiring program support? And thus, the first annual Madison House ‘Thank-A-Thon’ was born. Under Caroline’s leadership, a select group of Madison House Program Directors called annual donors to thank them for their continued giving and update them on our current programs. Over 300 Madison House alumni and friends were called and so many were happy to hear of Madison House’s progress from the experiences of a current volunteer.

This summer, Richard ‘Dick’ Nunley of the Better Living Foundation approached Madison House regarding a partnership to provide a student labor force to paint the interior of the Salvation Army Store, in exchange for a $5,000 donation. With the leadership of our Student Board members, including David Hope ’12, Super Service Saturday/Sunday was instituted. Volunteers and leaders were encouraged to give time to the painting project, in return for the opportunity for their respective class year ‘to claim’ the Foundation donation as a part of their class gift. The weekend was a huge success with the project being completed by over 50 volunteers and the gift was ‘won’ by the 4th Years/Class of 2012.

The 4th Year Giving Campaign has long been a priority of Class Trustees and Madison House student leadership to promote the culture of giving in support of Madison House before students ever leave grounds. Danielle Murashige ’12, who is the Madison House Student Board Co-Chair, has fostered a connection to her classmates and fellow Madison volunteers and leaders by hosting football tailgates, calling for participation in Super Service Saturday/Sunday and resurrecting The Madison Society (an honorary society for Madison House student donors). Many Madison House 4th Years are giving their time in weekly service and in other opportunities to support Madison House, as well as designating all or part of their 4th Year Gift to Madison House.

These are significant examples of how current Madison House volunteers and leaders are working to understand and bolster Madison House’s fundraising efforts. As Madison House’s student philanthropy culture develops, it will foster a strong alumni connection beyond Grounds and promote Madison House’s mission for a lifelong commitment to service. Alumni and friends – students are joining you in your stewardship of Madison House’s mission. Now THAT is passion for Madison House and demonstrated success of our student led program!

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