About Us

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 8,000 volunteer hours per year, the Shelter for Help in Emergency provides services to over 2,000 individuals 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.


Since 1979, the Shelter for Help in Emergency has been 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.  The program has grown and changed over the years in response to the needs of the community.  It began in 1978 when 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 situation. This proved to be inadequate within the first six months as callers were requesting more and more 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.  As the need for more time and safe housing increased, the group approached the City of Charlottesville for support.  The City rented the Task Force a residential facility for $1.00 per year for ten years and the program became known as the Shelter for Help in Emergency.

In 1987, the Shelter purchased it’s own property, re-purposing an old home to house both the residential services and administration of the organization.  The need for residential space grew with clients needing longer stays out of their abusive situation,  and additional outreach services were developed to assist with the growing need in the community for those who were not coming in to stay.   The outreach and administration functions were moved out of the residential facility allowing for both parts of the program to grow and expand.  In the mid-1990’s, the Shelter realized the need for second-stage housing for clients who had difficulty finding housing that was both available and affordable, and in June 2001 we welcomed our first family into our newly developed Transitional Housing Program.  Early in the 2000’s, the organization recognized that we continued to outgrow our facility and that programs could better serve our clients if our building constraints were loosened.  In May 2008, with the leadership of a dedicated Board of Directors and an amazingly generous community of support, the Shelter opened the doors to our new, fully accessible, sustainable Gold LEED certified emergency residence thoughtfully designed from the ground up to meet the needs of all our clients.

Residential Services and Community Services

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 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.

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.
  • 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.