Altavista, Va.

A Safe Space for Families: Frannie’s House at YWCA of Central Virginia

Colorful bunk beds at Frannie's House

YWCA's Frannie’s House provides a safe refuge for families fleeing domestic violence in Altavistia, Va..

Fleeing a violent situation at home is difficult enough. But when families in need of a safe place to stay have to leave their communities or move their children to a new school district because the closest shelter is in the next county over, an already monumental challenge can seem even more daunting.

For those families in Altavista, Va., a fresh start is now right around the corner at YWCA Central Virginia. Since opening in July 2010, more than 60 women and children in Virginia’s Campbell and Pittsylvania Counties have found refuge at Frannie’s House, which can house up to eight women and children at a time.

"This shelter is one less barrier for women and children fleeing domestic violence," says Caroline Hudson, YWCA of Central Virginia’s executive director. "They can still stay in their community and not have to move away to a shelter out of their county or school district. The kids can stay in their schools with less disruption."


A child's drawing at YWCA's Frannie’s House.

"Without Frannie’s House, some women would not have been able to leave and would still be in jeopardy, with their children being raised in a household of violence," Hudson continues. "Our goal is to eliminate the generational cycle of violence. The children and young people who stay here get a chance to learn that violence is not normal, it does not have to be part of your family."

YWCA of Central Virginia’s Domestic Violence Prevention Center (DVPC) program, which also includes a domestic violence shelter in Lynchburg, Va., was established in 1978. YWCA’s shelters provide a safe place for women and children escaping violent homes. The DVPC provides emergency housing, food, counseling, court advocacy, support groups, and a 24-hour hotline. YWCA domestic violence advocates also provide domestic violence education and awareness to the greater Altavista community.

For more information about Frannie’s House or other programs at YWCA of Central Virginia, visit or visit the Frannie’s House page on Facebook.

In the video clip below, YWCA staff and community members discuss the impact of YWCA of Central Virginia’s Domestic Violence Prevention Center, and center director Linda Ellis-Williams shares her own moving story of how she and her children survived domestic violence.