Individual
Volunteers

Help out at one of our volunteer nights, by yourself or with a few friends!

Group
Volunteers

We love groups! If you have 5 or more volunteers please check out this page.

Book Experts
& Librarians

We have dedicated nights for Book Experts and Librarians every month!

Service
Learning

Looking for an internship or education requirements? Look no further!

Volunteer Guidelines

Volunteers coming on their own must sign up before arriving to ensure that we do not exceed COVID-related capacity limits. 

We recommended that all volunteers:

  • Be 16 years of age or older
  • Have at least a High-School Reading Level
  • Be comfortable with the Work Involved
  • Be comfortable with reading letters from prisoners that sometimes contain disturbing content
 
If your child under 16 and is a book enthusiast, he or she is welcome but must be accompanied by an adult. 

What do volunteers do?

Picking Books

Pickers read a hand-written request written by someone in prison and find appropriate books in our book store.

Pickers are essentially personal shoppers for people in prison. If you enjoy browsing in your local library or bookstore, this is the job for you!

High school-level reading skills and a love of books are all you need to do this job. This requires walking and standing for long periods.

QC/Invoicing

Invoicers make sure that the chosen books are appropriate and do not contain any forbidden items. If they are good to go, they fill out an invoice.

A love of books, a high-school level or better reading level, legible handwriting and good attention to detail are requirements for this job. This is a sit-down job and is great for people who like picking books but can’t stand for a long time.

Packing Books

Packers prepare the books for mailing, just like one might do if they were mailing a gift to a friend.

Good handwriting and attention to detail are necessary for this job. This is a sit-down job.

Volunteering FAQs

We are requiring volunteers to sign up ahead of time to ensure that people can space out. United First Parish Church is now mask-optional inside the church. Hand sanitizer is available and we clean surfaces between sessions. 

You can sign up on our website before the session. Some sessions fill up quickly, especially Saturdays, so sign up early! 

We ask that first time volunteers arrive at the beginning of the session, and all volunteers should stay through the session to help clean up. 

Yes! Most of our work is done by volunteers. We have jobs to match all abilities ranging from sit-down jobs to moving heavy boxes. 

There are no prerequisites or orientations for volunteers. If you are under 18, please look under “Can kids volunteer” below.

Volunteer jobs depend on what is needed each session, but usually volunteers can choose among a few options depending on what fits their ability and interest. The most common jobs are choosing books to match book requests, double-checking the selections of the pickers, preparing packages for mailing, or sorting book donations. See the “What Do Volunteers Do?” section on our volunteer page for more info.

All jobs require a high school reading level and an attention to detail. Some jobs require a high degree of manual dexterity. 

Book enthusiasts under 16 are welcome but must be accompanied by an adult. Before your child volunteers, please consider the work that is involved. More info on the specific tasks involved can be found on our volunteer page.

Many tasks require a general knowledge of books and high-school level reading skills that younger kids usually don’t have. In addition, letters from prisoners sometimes contain comments and life stories that may be inappropriate for kids.

All of our work is done in the basement of the United First Parish Church in the heart of Quincy Center (also known as the “Church of the Presidents.”) See our directions page for detailed info on parking and finding us in the church.

We have a constant need for people who are able to review book donations and shelve them accordingly. This includes librarians, library students, book store employees, and book enthusiasts. You do not need knowledge of any standard library categorizing systems. We have our own. If you can decipher the category of a book and get it on the right shelf, please join us. Please sign up for a shift, or see our Book Experts page for more details.

Sometimes.  It depends on your skills and how much time you want to devote. Prior volunteers have worked on fundraising, calling prisons to verify restrictions, marketing and more. Most volunteers who do remote tasks start by volunteering in person, to get to know PBP and our needs. Contact volunteer@prisonbookprogram.org if you are interested.

Partially!  The United First Parish Church has an elevator and an accessible bathroom. A core member will need to open the front door of the church for you and guide you back to our work space in the basement. Please come to our regular entrance and call 617-423-3298 for assistance. See our directions page for more details on how to find the right door. 

We work in two sections of the church – a large dining room and a small room where we shelve books. While the bookroom is too crowded for a wheelchair to navigate, there is plenty of space in the dining room. 

Yes. The church has three all-gender bathrooms including one that is single-stall and handicap accessible.

While there is no water fountain, we do provide cups people can use for tap water. We usually have light snacks available but you should not count on food. Quincy Center has several restaurants, coffee shops, and convenience stores where you can purchase your own food and beverages.

We encourage all of our volunteers to be informed about the trends impacting people in prison.  We have created a prison reform page of resources complied by our volunteers. 

Many of our volunteers need signed confirmation of their hours, which we can provide. Ask at a volunteer session, where we have blank forms to fill out. If you want a personalized letter with all the dates you volunteered included, email us before your final session and we can have it ready for you.