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Volunteer of the Month: Melanie

Melanie holding a tray of letters

What attracted you about Books to Prisoners specifically?

There was a large list I was looking at, but I was attracted to BTP because I so believe that our prison system should be about rehabilitation, and this seemed like one concrete piece of that that I could contribute to.

As a volunteer, you spend a lot of time reading prisoners’ letters – are there any that stick out to you?

I wouldn’t say one in particular. But what impresses me about the letters is how thankful they are – most people spend their entire first paragraph thanking Books to Prisoners. And there are such a wide range of interests. And such an array of beautiful handwriting! 

Is there anything that prisoners request that surprised you?

Dictionaries. I didn’t expect that.

Has your experience at Books to Prisoners impacted how you think about the correctional system?

Not really. I’m surprised that there are so many restrictions and I don’t know why prisons aren’t more open to books. That’s changed my view a little of prisons themselves; I assumed they would value books coming in. And I think they should.

As an organization centered on books, we’re always interested to know if you have any favorite books, authors, or genres?

I’m a sucker for self-help. I’m in the medical field. I just read You Are a Badass and I loved it – so funny!

The very first book I ever read from cover to cover, it was called Little Vick. I checked it out from the library and hid it under my bed – I lied to my parents and told them I returned it to the library.

Any words for people thinking of volunteering?

I think they should because it’s eye-opening, and it’s a really casual environment, a fun group of people, and the hours are great!

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