About Us

About Us

In the beginning...

In 1978, a group of local citizens formed a task force and began meeting at St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church. They were originally known as the Williamsburg Task Force on Battered Women.

Our origins

Avalon was originally known as the Williamsburg Task Force on Battered Women.

In 1980, following a community needs assessment, the Task Force was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Volunteers answered a 24-hour helpline and shelter was provided through the use of safe houses in the community. Twenty survivors were served the first year.

In 1983, as the demand for services grew, a two-bedroom home was leased.

In 1985, as calls to the Helpline increased, rape crisis services were added and the current site was purchased. The existing house became a four bedroom, 16-bed shelter and a converted garage became a one-bedroom apartment.

A new name

The name of the WTFBW was changed to Avalon: A Center for Women and Children in 1990.

In 1994, as the demand for services continued to grow, the Board of Directors embarked on a capital campaign to raise funds to build a new emergency shelter and six two bedroom apartments. The first formal fundraiser was done by area realtors. Thanks to the strong support of the community, construction of the project began in March 1998 and that May, the first Outreach Office on Richmond Road was opened. Shelter residents were moved to the newly constructed emergency shelter in December 1998. 

Expanding our reach

In 2016, to express increased diversity, the name is changed to Avalon Center.

In 2017, Avalon agreed to extend comprehensive services to the Middle Peninsula communities following the closure of Laurel Shelter. Since then, Avalon has added two community-based safe houses and opened a second Outreach Office to serve the Middle Peninsula.

Both the Williamsburg and Gloucester Outreach Offices offer walk-in crisis support, mental health counseling, support groups, hospital accompaniment, legal advocacy and youth services.

Throughout the 11 jurisdictions, Avalon has worked to form and strengthen collaborations. Avalon has written partnerships with over 45 public and private agencies including: local departments of Social Services, public and private schools, recreation departments, police departments, hospitals, The College of William & Mary, courts, the regional jail and many other private agencies. Avalon participates in a multitude of state, regional and local collaborative groups.  

Today, Avalon provides emergency shelter, transitional housing and support services for approximately 1500 individuals each year. In 2022, the Board of Directors adopted a new strategic plan to guide our work over the next 5 years. Read the plan here.