March’s Volunteer of the Month: Catherine

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Catherine, wearing traditional Metro Seattle area headgear

How did you get started with Books to Prisoners?

I learned about Books to Prisoners from a list of volunteer opportunities posted at work [interviewer’s note to interested readers: check to see if your work has a matching donation fund for employees!]. I started volunteering because I love reading and I wanted to help others who didn’t have access to books. I’ve been a volunteer for 8 months.

Describe your first impression of our headquarters.

My first impression was amazement that people could be in a room with so many books and not be constantly reading them.

As a volunteer, you read a lot of letters from incarcerated individuals. Can you talk about some of the letters that you’ve encountered at Books to Prisoners?

It’s always heartbreaking to get a letter from someone in solitary. Even being fairly introverted, I can’t imagine being completely alone for 23 hours a day. My favorites are probably the letters with artwork. There’s so much effort put into those pages.

D.B. - Georgia (2016)

Envelope art from an inmate in Georgia

Have your experiences at Books to Prisoners impacted how you think about the correctional system?

The concept of prisons is a necessary evil, but the practice of for-profit prisons is asking for corruption. Before I started volunteering here, I never really thought about the prison system, but now I’m learning what it’s really like through the letters.

Do you have any words for readers who may be thinking about volunteering with Books to Prisoners?

Definitely do it! Books to Prisoners tries to help as many people as possible and with your help, we can do even more. Really, the thank you letters we get say more than I ever could; I really feel like these books make a difference in people’s lives.

You mentioned that you couldn’t believe that so many people were in a room with so many books, yet weren’t reading any of them. What books do you read when you aren’t (or are; no judgments here!) at Books to Prisoners?

My favorite books are generally sci-fi, historical fiction, and thriller/crime books.

Thank you for talking with us today, Catherine! Readers, you may be interested to learn that sci-fi and thrillers are also incredibly popular with our clients. Learn more about volunteering, donating books, and supporting us financially!

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