October 2, 2008

Madeline's House in danger of closing its doors

Here it is, the second day of DV Awareness Month, and I read about a Domestic Violence shelter that is in danger of closing next month and really in need of help.  The only one in it's area serving 12 counties!!

I had to go to a shelter when escaping my abusive x-husband, and I don't know where my son and I would be right now if there wasn't a shelter available to take us.  We most likely would have stayed, it was our only way out at the time, and most likely would be dead right now.  I had to share this excerpt now, although I have put the full article here because I feel it's so important, because THIS is the reason that DV Shelters MUST stay open and NEED help!

The home is named Madeline's House after Madeline Gerhardt Mitchell. Her abusive husband killed Mitchell ten years ago. While many tried to protect Mitchell the shelters in the northern part of Virginia were all full and unable to accept her and her children. Her husband was able to get to her and shoot and kill her and then shoot and kill himself.

We don't need anymore Madeline Gerhardt Mitchell's, too many are dying already to let a shelter serving so many close it's doors.

This could have been me, this could have been so many others. 

Here it is DV Awareness Month, and I know that times are tough and we are all going over our finances and cutting things down, but every little bit that you can send could truly help this shelter out.  If you could contribute $5 a month towards this shelter, about the price of a pack of cigarettes or a gallon of milk, together we can help keep this shelter going for years to come so that they can continue saving women and children from abuse, and continue to be there for those that need them.

This may not be a shelter in your area since I am sharing this all across the US, but you could be a lifesaver not only to this shelter, but to a Victim that is running for her life, possibly with her children.  Do you truly know something else that your money could be better spent on?

Please, HELP ensure that this DV Shelter does NOT have to close due to financial distress!!!  Please, don't only open your wallets, but open your hearts and send whatever you can.

Please, leave a comment on the original article and show your support with a comment and a donation!


VA - MECKLENBURG COUNTY - The only emergency shelter for domestic and sexual violence victims in south central Virginia is in danger of closing next month, officials said.

Madeline's House was established in 1999 and is operated under the direction of Southside Center for Violence Prevention (SCVP).

The home, which has 33 beds, is located in the Farmville area and serves primarily 12 counties. No one truly needing a safe haven has ever been turned away, Emily Marshall, the executive director, said.

Marshall said, "Madeline's House has suffered many funding cuts over the past several years, yet hasn't turned away any woman or child in crisis. The directors and staff have worked tirelessly to assure these cuts haven't affected critical services for women and children who are fleeing to us for safe haven. But options are running out.

"Don't let Madeline's House doors close," Marshall pleaded.
"It just seems that no matter how many options we pursue, it hasn't been enough!" Bernice Hawkins, president of Madeline's House Board of Directors cried. "But we just can't let our doors close! We need help now!"

The board of directors reported that in 2007 Madeline's House provided nearly 3,000 bed night and follow-up services to victims. "This year (2008), we have provided safety and services at an alarming rate," board ember John Milano said. "We have to find a way to stay available to the women and children who need the safe haven and services we can provide. We are appealing to everyone who reads this article to help us by making a donation, no matter how small or great. If we don't have help immediately, unfortunately, we'll have no choice but to close."

The board is pleading for citizens and organizations to consider making a donation now and continuing to support the efforts of Madeline's House. Tax deductible donations can be mailed to SCVP, P.O. Box 563 Farmville, VA 23901 or call 888-819-2926.

"Your donation will help us assure safety and services for victims of domestic and sexual violence who need refuge from their abusers, a secure place where we can help them break the cycle of violence," Marshall said. "We are going to hold on as long as we can. We have had a heart warming response from the community so far."

Marshall noted the efforts of the students at Longwood University to save the home. She said the students organized and went from business to business in the Farmville area seeking support for the shelter. The businesses responded accordingly, Marshall said and as a result on Oct. 1 nearly 30 businesses in Farmville will be donating a portion of their sales to Madeline's House because of the efforts of the college students.

Marshall said she knows that the country is in hard times economically, which relates directly to their decrease in donations. She is seeking to have more people knowing about what Madeline's House does and the number of people they provide services to 365 days a year.

On Atlantic Street in South Hill, in the Mecklenburg Shopping Center, near Subway and The Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy, Madeline's House has a thrift store. The store accepts tax deductible donations of household goods, clothing, toys, appliances and almost anything else. The store ensures the item is sellable and then places it in the store for purchase.

Patrons to the store can bring in their donation and take a look around at the name brand clothing and other great buys offered on items donated to the store. The store is open Tuesday through Saturday.

Marshall said that one in three women have been victims of domestic or sexual abuse. This amounts to a woman abused or assaulted every nine minutes, Marshall said. She said that 50 percent of men who abuse their wives also abuse their children. According to the statistics provided by Marshall 40 percent of girl's ages 14-17 are abuse by a boyfriend and 80 percent of runaways are from homes where domestic violence occurs.

The board of directors said they are now acting as volunteer staff themselves in order to keep the shelter operational. While they receive some grant funding it does not cover all the expenses that are required to meet the needs of those who must have this safe haven.

Marshall said that it cost approximately $113 per person per day to provide the basic needs. These needs are met in a supportive environment. The costs the home incurs to meet the basic needs of the clients include food, clothing and shelter and such overhead cost as utilities, staff services and insurance.

Some of the services, outside of the basic needs, offered by Madeline's House through SCVP is a 24 hour crisis hotline, transportation to shelter & appointments, food and clothing in a loving and supportive family environment.

The shelter provides personalized case management, which includes individual counseling, support groups and court advocacy.

To meet the needs of those who are in Madeline's House children's activities are provided, training and job seeking skills for the women, financial planning and each case is followed up with after departing the shelter.

They continue to reach out to the schools and communities and provide information on domestic violence and sexual violence to all.

The home is named Madeline's House after Madeline Gerhardt Mitchell. Her abusive husband killed Mitchell ten years ago. While many tried to protect Mitchell the shelters in the northern part of Virginia were all full and unable to accept her and her children. Her husband was able to get to her and shoot and kill her and then shoot and kill himself.

On Friday, Oct. 3 in celebration of Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October), a vigil will be held in the Roses Shopping Center on East Atlantic Street in South Hill at 7 p.m. This will be one of three simultaneous vigils' to be held throughout Southside. The others will be held at the Madeline's House Thrift Store in Farmville and in Blackstone at Seay Park. Each participant is asked to bring a candle. For more information call 434-292-1077.


  1. I'm a junior at Longwood University in Farmville and I'm involved with the creative writing program here, which has a relationship with Madeline's House (we do an awareness program for them annually in Oct). Your article mentions us :) so I just wanted to let you know (if you didn't hear) that we managed to save Madeline's House from immediate danger! YAY! It's always in need of donations, of course; that's the nature of these things. But thankfully it's out of the woods for now. Here's the article from our school newspaper:


  2. Thank you for bringing light to this issue. We are working hard to keep this vital community shelter's doors open. Madeline was my first cousin, and we witnessed first hand the horror and heartache of domestic violence.
    Thank you.
    Sally Gearheart-Reich

    NOTE: The correct spelling of Madeline's maiden name is GEARHEART. Thank you.

  3. Please, share what is needed, and let us help get the news out there. As a Survivor, and someone that had to run to a shelter to stay alive, I know how vital and necessary shelters are. With the economy on the decline, I can only imagine how much harder it not only is for shelters to continue to maintain, but how many more incidences of DV is occurring. Please, let us know how we can help. My personal email address is angelwingofdv@gmail.com .
    God Bless you for all that you do, and our prayers are with you, and our support.
    Tracy Hommel
    Founder of UAADV

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