When did you start volunteering with Books to Prisoners?
I’ve been volunteering for six months now.
How did you get involved with Books to Prisoners?
I heard about Books to Prisoners from a friend who volunteers there. She brought me in one night and I’ve been coming every week.
What were your first impressions of us?
That there is a lot of good work being done–in a very small space–by dedicated people.
Have there been any particularly interesting letters that you’ve encountered while volunteering?
One letter I opened was not actually a request for books. Rather, it was a thank you letter for books which had been sent previously. The person also included a few stamps to help with Books to Prisoners’ postage costs, which is a really touching gesture when you consider how difficult it can be to get stamps, and therefore how invested this prisoner was in helping Books to Prisoners..
You have been doing an amazing job of finding books in some of our most requested genres, like westerns and urban novels. What inspired you to start helping in that capacity?
Books in those genres are not often acquired via donations, so I’ve scoured thrift stores and websites to help stock our shelves with those highly requested items. It’s disappointing to read a letter and not be able to find a good match for the requested books or genre, especially when our package may be the only item received by that prisoner for a long time.
Since we’re an organization that deals with books, would you mind talking about some of your favorite books?
My favorite book is usually the one I’m reading at the time! I mostly enjoy fiction (my summer reading included Jonathan Lethem, Phillip Roth, and Flannery O’Connor) and thrillers (Lee Child, Robert Crais). I enjoy any book which tells an interesting story.
Do you have any words for others who might be thinking about volunteering here?
I would describe Books to Prisoners as a welcoming, low-stress environment. Those who choose to volunteer include a wide variety of people!
Would you like to share some of your hobbies?
I play trombone and euphonium in two community bands. I also spend much of my free time wandering Seattle taking photos of urban scenes.
Thanks for talking with us today, Curtis! And thank you for sharing some of your photographs, and for everything that you do for Books to Prisoners.