Andy Chan has been volunteering at BTP since 1994. After many years of involvement with progressive organisations with somewhat abstract goals, Andy was motivated by the very practical nature of BTP, and the immediacy of the effect it had on people. After years of answering letters from prisoners and wrapping packages, Andy has had several terms as BTP President, which has entitled him to perks such as using the rubber stamp to put return addresses on envelopes, and unlimited access to the paper cutter.
Anne Paxton is a writer and documentary filmmaker who has been volunteering at BTP since 2003. She was inspired to join BTP by Malcolm X’s essay, “Freedom Through Learning to Read,” and has focused her efforts on community outreach and development of the organization. A second-year law student at Seattle University, she produced and directed the short video on this website, “Books to Prisoners: Supporting Literacy, Opening Minds,” and directs the Social Justice Film Festival, which BTP co-sponsored in 2013.
Kris Fulsaas started volunteering with Books To Prisoners in 1989 when she read that inmates at King County Jail had no books to read and the TV was on 24/7—which sounded like her personal vision of hell. Sending free books to U.S. prisoners is one of the most satisfying projects she has worked on, knowing that incarcerated individuals have a book of their own to enrich and empower their lives. Kris has helped Books To Prisoners move at least 4 times and is grateful that BTP has found an excellent home at University Christian Church. Kris loves the books aspect of Books To Prisoners—loves picking up large-scale book donations, sorting donated books, shelving books, finding obscure books for prisoner requests.
Carla became involved with Books to Prisoners five years ago when she was sending books to her prison pen pal. Having a pen pal made her more interested in the issues of criminal justice. Being a librarian has been helpful in working at Books to Prisoners. Carla had fun at the fundraising events like gift wrapping at the holiday season, our garage sale and art auction and most of all, the cafe when she baked gluten free pastries.
Katie volunteered in a social justice program in a prison while in college 35 years ago. That planted a seed of interest and care for imprisoned men and women, and particularly for their circumstances upon release. Add to that a love of books and reading, and her eye stopped on a sign asking for volunteers for Books to Prisoners at the local food co-op. That was two years ago, after moving to Seattle from a small town. She especially enjoys orienting and interacting with the young adult volunteers in a room overflowing with books.
Eve has been volunteering with Books to Prisoners for over a year, and became a keyholder in March of 2012. She is also active at Left Bank Books (BTP’s sister organization) and the Seattle Persian and Himalayan Cat Rescue. At Books to Prisoners, Eve enjoys the practical application of her political convictions surrounding anti-racism, socioeconomic equality, radical feminism, and anti-authoritarian theory. (Being surrounded by a mountain of books doesn’t hurt, either.) It’s always a pleasure to discover what lies within a box of donations and to imagine the books reaching people who would not otherwise be able to access titles that interest them. Her favorite types of books to send include self-help, POC histories, art/music, and books written in Spanish.
Heidi Burris began volunteering with Books to Prisoners several years ago while a student at the University of Washington. Engaging in courses that focused on prison history as well as the racial inequalities around incarceration she became motivated to help create a more dignified, reformative culture for inmates. An avid reader herself, Books to Prisoners was a natural choice. Heidi enjoys working with BTP as she believes that education and knowledge can offer everyone the opportunity to transform themselves and their communities.
A self-proclaimed bookworm since early childhood, Darlene can think of few punishments greater than not having access to books (the only Twilight Zone episode she remembers from her youth dealt with an avid reader, the sole survivor of a nuclear blast, who rejoices over finding the remnants of a library but then breaks his glasses and can’t read the books). Darlene strongly believes in the educational and enrichment value of books and their impact on quality of life, and she is excited and motivated to make them available to prisoners.
Rapidly gaining an encyclopedic knowledge of the authors of thrillers and publishers of urban novels through her work as the program coordinator at Books to Prisoners, Michelle is thrilled to be working with such a meaningful organization. She has a master’s of library and information science from the University of Washington, has an open love for dystopian novels, and makes a party trick of the thickness of her glasses.
Kelsey is a woman of small, yet book-box schlepping, stature. She has a degree in fine art and works as a gardener, but yearns to work with wild creatures in some aspect. She started volunteering for BTP in Sept. 2013 because she values social justice, believes in prison abolishment, and because she LOVES books.