About Us

Shelter for Help in Emergency Charlottesville

The Shelter for Help in Emergency works to support and empower victims of domestic violence through a combination of residential, community-based and outreach services.

With 16 positions for a staff of 22 full and part-time employees, and the benefit of over 5,000 volunteer hours per year, the Shelter for Help in Emergency provides services to over 400 adults and children annually.

Mission Statement: Working to end domestic violence in our community.

Philosophy Statement: The Shelter for Help in Emergency is committed to providing a safe, supportive, confidential, and respectful environment in which survivors of domestic violence are empowered with the knowledge of personal and community resources as well as the skills needed to make informed decisions for themselves and their families.

In the Community

The Shelter's community education programs include:

  • Training for allied professionals in the mental health, social services, law enforcement, and health care fields.
  • Presentations for civic organizations and faith communities.
  • Activities in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October) and Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (February).
  • Prevention and awareness programs for schools and the community.

Collaborations with community partners include:

  • Lethality Assessment Program with local law enforcement to reduce domestic violence-related homicides.
  • Trauma-Informed Mental Health Services Program with The Women’s Initiative and ReadyKids to eliminate barriers for those seeking mental health support services.
  • Vision 21 focuses on linking children who have experienced trauma with service providers who can assist.
  • Trauma-Informed Community Network coordinates community systems to approach all work from a trauma-informed lens.


The Shelter for Help in Emergency is the only agency in Planning District Ten (City of Charlottesville, and counties of Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson) dedicated to providing comprehensive services to women and children who are victims of domestic violence. Since incorporating in 1979, the program has grown and changed over the years in response to the needs of the community and the clients we serve. Today, we remain grateful to all the founding mothers, supportive community partners, and victim-survivors who built the foundation for the programs and services we are able to offer today.

The following are just a few of the historical markers and outstanding accomplishments of the organization over the years:

  • 1977: A group of concerned citizens formed the Task Force on Abused Women offering a hotline to support women needing someone with whom they could talk about their abusive situation.
  • 1978: Within six months of establishing the hotline, callers were requesting a safe place to escape, if only for one night. In response, the Task Force began to provide a “safe house” system where individuals in the community offered their homes for an emergency stay lasting 24-48 hours.
  • 1979: As the need for longer stays and safe housing increased, the Task Force approached the City of Charlottesville for support, and the City rented the Task Force a house for $1.00 per year. This facility served as the agency for 10 years and the program became known as the Shelter for Help in Emergency.
  • 1982: The Shelter developed a children's program to address the needs of children staying in the safe shelter with the assistance of grant funds fromthe National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect.
  • 1987: The Shelter purchased an old home to repurpose to serve as both the residential services and administration offices of the organization. 
  • 1989: With the help of the Centel Volunteer Group, the program moved into the new, larger residential space to accomodate clients needing longer stays out of their abusive situation. Additional outreach services were developed to assist with the growing need in the community for those who needed support without a housing component.
  • 1993: Party Parade selects the Shelter as the recipient of their annual fundraiser. Funds were used for building renovations offering more program space to address growing client and staff needs. 
  • 1996: The Shelter and members of the local criminal justice system join together to establish a local council on domestic violence.
  • 1997: The outreach and administration functions of the agency were moved out of the residential facility, allowing for both parts of the program to grow and expand.
  • 2001: Recognizing the need for second-stage housing for clients who had difficulty finding housing that was both available and affordable, the Shelter welcomed the first family into the newly developed Transitional Housing Program.
  • 2003: The Shelter established an outreach program for Spanish-speaking community members. Committed to providing services that are culturally respectful, the program is facilitated by bicultural, bilingual staff.
  • 2004: The organization recognized that it continued to outgrow current facilities and that programs could better serve clients if building constraints were loosened. Staff, volunteers, clients and Board members were asked to participate in developing the design for the ideal facilities for residential and community outreach centers.
  • 2006: The Shelter for Help in Emergency purchased land for a new residential facility.
  • 2008: With the leadership of a dedicated Board of Directors and an amazingly generous community of support, the Shelter opened the doors to a beautiful  new, fully accessible, sustainable, Gold LEED certified emergency residence thoughtfully designed from the ground up to meet the needs of all clients. The Shelter for Help in Emergency is the first Gold LEED certified domestic violence shelter in the country.
  • 2010: The Shelter develops a signature fundraiser, Design House, inspiring others "because peace begins at home."
  • 2016: Funding increases allow for program expansion to include a Prevention Program, Lethality Assessment Program, Trauma-Informed Mental Health Counseling, and a dedicated Rural Outreach Program. Collaborations with local law enforcement and other non-profits help to ensure the best possible use of funds and delivery of services.
  • 2019: Received a Training and Services to End Violence Against Women with Disabilities Federal Grant from the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women to increase access to services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community.
  • 2020: Addressing the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Shelter took measures to maintain the safety, health, and well-being of staff and clients while continuing to serve clients and the community, including procedures to utilize hotel space for safe shelter, limiting donations and visitors to both Shelter facilities, and creating policies to assist staff. One example is the Extraordinary Circumstance Paid Leave Act, a temporary measure to ensure staff were not financially burdened as a result of COVID-19 while working remotely.
  • 2021: Launch Major Gifts Campaign to raise funds for upgrades to residential facility, strengthening organizational infrastructure, and increasing the Endowment Fund.
  • 2021: The Shelter receives a Payroll Protection Program loan through the   American Rescue Plan Act that is later forgiven in full.
  • 2023: New funding provides opportunities to engage underserved communities through prevention efforts and enhance services to D/IPV victims who have experienced a traumatic brain injury.

Today, the Shelter for Help in Emergency provides strong, well-established programs and services that respond to the needs of our whole community. While some clients need the benefit of services within our safe, confidential residential facility, others are able to access the services they need at our Community Outreach Center or in other community-based sites. Both residential and outreach clients are offered a comprehensive range of trauma-informed services including crisis intervention, case management and counseling, legal advocacy and court accompaniment, programs for children and adolescents, and outreach to the Spanish-speaking community. Over the years we have worked to become a resource to the whole community – a place where people can get information about domestic violence and learn ways in which they can get involved.