Prison Book Program
I’ve volunteered for the Prison Book Program a few times and really enjoyed it. Located in the basement of the United First Parish Church in Quincy Center, the program aims to provide books to prisoners across the country. According to their website:
Prison Book Program provides prisoners with free reading materials. With prisoners isolated in facilities that have chronically insufficient educational opportunities, we provide these materials to improve the lives and communities of prisoners to greatly reduce the likelihood of their return to the prison system.
What I like best about the work is that I get to select books for people 🙂 Prisoners write letters listing which types of books they are interested in and volunteers try to fulfill their requests as best they can. For instance, I had one letter that requested a western, but the best I could find was a book about horses. The library is small and volunteers must follow the guidelines of the individual prisons, for instance some prisons only allow new or only paperback books.
My father is cowboy (no, really, he is) and has a ton of western-type books, so I asked him to go through his bookshelves and let me donate the books he no longer wanted. Westerns are hugely popular, but other much-needed books include:
- African-American studies
- The Autobiography of Malcolm X and works about or by Martin Luther King, Jr.
- Native American studies
- Mexican, Aztec and Mayan studies
- Puerto Rican studies
- English dictionaries, thesauruses and foreign language dictionaries
- GED Prep
- Spanish/English dictionaries and books in Spanish
- How to start a small business
- Health especially HIV and Hepatitis C
- Gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender studies
- Trades (i.e. woodworking, automotive, etc.)
- Spirituality & Religion – especially Islam and non-mainstream religions such as Wicca, Paganism, Buddhism, New Age
- History(ancient Egypt was popular last time I was there)
- Psychology and philosophy
- Art and drawing (cookbooks, too)
- Secret societies and the occult (e.g., Masons, Rosicrucian Order, extra terrestrials, etc.)
I really do love this organization because I love to read and am happy to help bring that joy to others. If you are in the Boston area and are interested in donating or volunteering, check out their website. Volunteers are welcome Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6:30pm to 9pm and on some Saturdays.