Dear Madison House family,
On August 17, 1969, Hurricane Camille slammed ashore in Mississippi, packing 170 mph winds and a 25-foot storm surge as it headed north. Two days later, the storm unexpectedly turned east towards Central Virginia, surprising weather forecasters. That evening, just south of Charlottesville, the residents of Nelson County went to bed unaware of the impending storm’s magnitude. During the night, the storm dumped an estimated 27 inches of rain in five hours, flooded the Tye River, washed out bridges and caused massive landslides. Many lives were lost.
UVA students returning to Charlottesville for the start of the semester responded. In the weeks and months ahead, several local churches and organizations coordinated the students’ response to this natural disaster—including the organization that would become Madison House. Since then, Madison House volunteers have played a key role in strengthening the relationship between the University and the surrounding communities.
Early this August, Charlottesville and the University were rocked by an unnatural disaster. An unprecedented storm of overt white supremacist hate and violence burned and crashed into our community—first with torches at the University and then with a car attack in Downtown Charlottesville.
As we did nearly 50 years ago, the Madison House family is again responding to this local disaster. Even as our community grapples with the divisions caused by institutionalized racism and white supremacy, more than 3,000 Madison House volunteers are working with our incredible community partners to replace hate and fear with love. They are meeting children in need of mentors, parents who need help completing and filing their taxes, and immigrants and refugees who want to improve their language skills. They continue to bring new community members into our extended Madison House family.
Our student leaders are also partnering with other local non-profits on an effort called #DearYoungPerson. Through this effort Madison House and our partners are soliciting, sorting, and delivering postcards of love, support, and encouragement to area youth as a response to the August weekend of hate. We have already received thousands of postcards from around the world, and are proud to be playing a major role in their distribution to youth throughout the area.
Madison House volunteers have a long and distinguished history of responding to community needs—both urgent and ongoing—in a creative and effective manner. The coming year will be no exception. That’s what our family does.
From all of us here at Madison House, thank you for your support.
CLAS '93, LAW '99