About PACEM

About PACEM

about-photoPACEM is a grassroots organization that coordinates space and volunteers to provide shelter for individuals in our community who are homeless. More than 80 faith congregations and community groups and 3,000 volunteers in the Charlottesville area come together each winter to address the need for shelter by opening their doors, serving evening meals, giving financially, and providing companionship. PACEM believes that a welcoming, safe place to shelter is the first step to addressing the crisis of homelessness. 

Homelessness in Charlottesville: By the Numbers

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The Faces of our Guests
Our guests are the most vulnerable members of our community. Representing a broad cross-section of the area, they are all in need.
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Barriers to Leaving Homelessness
There are many challenges to escaping homelessness. Substance abuse and mental health are two of the most common factors.
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Guest Advocacy 
Makes a Difference
Our Case Manager works with each of our more than 200 guests, helping them move back into the community and out of our shelters.
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Our history: a passion for helping the homeless

In 2003, Charlottesville clergy and homeless advocates created PACEM after members of the Downtown Ministerial Alliance shared the experience of showing up for work in the morning and regularly finding homeless neighbors sleeping in the doorways. TJACH’s 2004 Homeless Census supported the experience of the downtown clergy. Dozens of individuals were living in the streets, in the woods, in their cars, in abandoned buildings, behind garbage dumpsters, or around churches in the middle of winter. With a pressing need for shelter, the Downtown Ministerial Alliance and TJACH joined together. They gave their grassroots initiative the name PACEM.

Full PACEM History

PACEM’S place in the community safety net
  • PACEM provided 6,524 total bed nights of shelter during the 2015-16 winter season
  • PACEM’s shelters were open for 22 weeks (153 nights)
  • PACEM served 219 adults who stayed with PACEM for one night or more
  • An average of 34 men and 18 women stayed each night
  • The average length of stay was 30 nights
  • PACEM partnered with the Salvation Army to provide a Warm Room for guests to stay when our beds were full
  • On the night of the Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless (TJACH) Annual Homeless Census, conducted January 28–29, 2016, there were a total of 134 adults in emergency shelter beds in our community. 31% of them were at PACEM.
  • Over 80 congregations and community groups participated in PACEM
When are the shelters open?

PACEM’s shelters open in late October and remain open until the middle of April.  Our shelter season spans the time of year when the risk of freezing to death is real for those sleeping on the streets.  Our shelters host as many as 45 men and 20 women each night. PACEM’s shelters are “Last Resort,” a place to go when a homeless person is seeking shelter and has no other options.

More than just shelter: PACEM supports our guests as they move from street to home

PACEM supports our guests in moving back into the community and out of our shelters. Our Case Manager/Advocate works with each of our more than 200 guests each winter, meeting with them one-on-one at least every 14 days. Our goal is to help them along the path from street to home. A total of 69 individuals moved into a stable home during the 2015-16 shelter season. These homes include private, market rate rental apartments, moving back in with family and friends, public housing, nursing homes, and assisted living. In addition to those who found stable housing, we helped 20 guests get into a more structured shelter with work and/or sobriety requirements and 50 guests reconnected with their family support network.

The Journey Mentorship Program

PACEM Staff

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Dawn Grzegorcyzyk
Executive Director

Dawn received her Master’s degree in Social Work from VCU in Richmond and became a PACEM volunteer through her church. As many volunteers do, she fell in love with the organization! MORE

Jayson Whitehead
Guest Advocate

As a journalist, Jayson discovered his passion for serving the homeless and decided to join the effort as a member of PACEM’s seasonal staff. As Program Director, he is now in his fifth season. MORE

Adriana Nicholson
Guest Advocate

For Adriana, being on staff at PACEM is like coming home.  As a member of PACEM’s founding team and then as staff, she has been devoted to helping others find their way home, either physically and/or spiritually. MORE