Volunteering is Madison House
by Michael Bailey
Argeris, second from left, meets with other U.Va. student
volunteers at Madison House.
By Lauren Fischer
a month of her arrival at U.Va., Elizabeth Argeris couldnt
decide which of her three favorite Madison
House programs she wanted to dedicate her spare time to: the
Boys and Girls Club, the Boosters or Hoos Against Hunger and Homelessness.
chose all three.
Associate director of programs
Bass, whose own passion for volunteering inspired four years with
the day care program, happily returned to Madison House as a full-time
employee after completing her masters degree in social work
at Virginia Commonwealth University.
has always been a part of me, said Bass, who now serves
as associate director of programs.
two busy women frequently cross paths at 170 Rugby Road, the cozy
brick home of Madison House, the biggest independent, nonprofit
volunteer coalition at U.Va. Recently, Madison House has put up
some impressive numbers. At the close of the 2001-02 academic
year, Madison Houses student volunteers recorded 110,000
hours of service, with an estimated value of $1.75 million. And
for the past two years, the organization has recruited an unprecedented
advises 170 student leaders, or program directors, who lead 15
different Madison House programs. Projects range from the traditional
the athletic coaching and holiday sharing programs
to the unique, such as the migrant aid and Adopt-a-Grandparent
year, students will reach out to more than 120 Madison House sites
in and beyond Albemarle County, including numerous schools, the
Charlottesville Free Clinic in conjunction with Medical Services,
and the slopes at Massanutten Ski Resort as part of the adaptive
ski program in Rehab Services.
Fredrick, executive director of Madison House, had difficulty
tracking down an organized volunteer program upon moving to Charlottesville
a few years ago. Now, she said, the collective Madison House effort
touches the lives of about 17,000 people throughout the academic
House takes students outside the U.Va. bubble so they can learn
about new people and develop relationships where both lives are
enhanced, she said.
attributes Madison Houses recent surge in popularity to
the zeal and vision of its program directors. At last years
Fall Fair at Newcomb Hall, for example, the leaders garnered 250
volunteers in a single day. Argeris and Bass agreed that on-Grounds
efforts to publicize the Madison House cause, such as residence-hall-wide
information sessions, are essential to their recruiting process.
Were equally proactive to people not around Rugby
Road, said Bass, who pointed out that almost 30 percent
of volunteers reside in first-year residence halls.
who currently serves as student co-chair of the Madison House
Board of Directors, added that when she was a first-year student,
the trip to Madison House was intimidating, with Rugby Road dominated
by fraternity houses and upperclassmen.
would have loved having them [Madison House representatives] come
to us, said Argeris.
about Madison Houses philanthropy has spread beyond even
the most remote on-Grounds housing. A local resident recently
donated 25 soccer books to the coaching program. After the mans
daughter graduated in 1997 with four years of experience with
the Big Sibling Program, which provides role models and companions
for young children, he wanted to invest a little something of
his own to a good cause.
of collegiate volunteer services across the country have jumped
on the Madison House bandwagon as well. Virginia Tech, William
and Mary, Arizona State and several Florida schools have sought
out Fredrick and members of the Board of Directors in an effort
to emulate U.Va.s founding principles of self-governance
and student leadership. She believes this is what sets Madison
House apart from other university-run programs.
said Madison House has a less rigid structure than some of her
past volunteering experiences. Even though she spends time as
a first-grade teachers aide and after-school caregiver at
Greer Elementary, she has the freedom to plan her own reading
activities, computer game sessions and recess schedule.
added, There are less hoops to jump through to get out there
from U.Va., however, necessitates that Fredrick and the board
search for funding. In the $228,000 budget for the current fiscal
year, earnings from an Alumni Hall endowment provided $53,000.
A student activities fee is expected to provide more than $46,000.
The next targeted source: alumni students.
[Madison House alumni] contributions are not as big as they could
be, said Fredrick. Continued alumni interest in the football
program, Honor System and even curriculum changes suggests that
past volunteers could provide future donations for Madison House.
ex-Madison House devotees drop in for a visit, many would hardly
recognize their old stomping ground. Grants from the Parents Program
have been used to set up a 24-hour planning room and updated computer
lounge, and the basement has been converted into a fully equipped
Argeris, watching Charlottesville children develop trust in her
and talk about attending U.Va. one day is well worth her time.
She plans on sticking around Madison House and staying involved
with Boosters until her graduation in May.
recognize the love-hate relationship with the community, and were
one of the things they love, said Argeris.