Mass Incarceration

Students enrich the lives of incarcerated people with the gift of books | VTx

The Virginia Tech chapter of nationwide service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega has constructed an particularly sturdy partnership with the Jail E book Venture. They’re probably the most frequent hosts of wrapping events at Virginia Tech, and so they record the Jail E book Venture as considered one of their high service engagements in 2022.

Annabelle Owens, the vp of service in APO, stated that her minor in public well being fueled her curiosity in serving to incarcerated folks, which spurred her to get her group concerned within the Jail E book Venture.

“Individuals have been overwhelmingly considering it, to the purpose the place each occasion I’ve too many volunteers,” stated Owens, a senior organic sciences main. “There’s lots of people who’re actually passionate.”

When Owens talks in regards to the mission, it’s clear that she is passionate, too. Working with the mission has even modified her profession path. Studying the letters from incarcerated folks has opened her eyes to how a lot assist they honestly want. Now her objective after she graduates is to pursue a legislation diploma in an effort to defend their rights and alter the system for the higher.

“The percentages are stacked towards us, institutionally,” she stated. “I’ve come to comprehend that I must put myself able the place I could make these systematic modifications.”

This yr, a number of college students within the division’s Humanities for Public Service main are additionally volunteering with the Jail E book Venture for his or her subject research.

For Danielle Wealthy, a senior double majoring in humanities for public service and international studies, the mission stood out not solely due to her love of books, but in addition as a result of she has identified somebody in jail. She’s been in a position to see the heavy restrictions which can be positioned on incarcerated folks’s capacity to attach with folks outdoors of their jail cells. So when Wealthy obtained the chance to volunteer with the Jail E book Venture, she noticed the potential to achieve people who find themselves so usually reduce off from the remainder of the world.

Due to these restrictions, it might probably usually be exhausting for Wealthy and the remainder of the volunteers to see the direct influence of their contributions. However for Wealthy, the letters recipients ship them about how the books have brightened their days, helped them develop, and even stored them alive is sufficient to hold her working.

“I’d encourage folks to be open to serving to others even in case you do not see the fruit of it,” she stated. “Even if you cannot see one thing rising or blossoming, it does not imply that it’s not making an influence.”

Sooner or later, Britt hopes to increase the Jail E book Venture into much more jail training initiatives. Potential future concepts embrace distributing studying supplies to prisons together with extra programs like Sylvester Johnson’s, or beginning a pen pal program with incarcerated folks.

The mission welcomes donations of paperback books in good situation, and often hosts ebook drives on campus. Dictionaries, almanacs, and non secular texts are at all times in particularly excessive demand. The web site for the VT Jail E book Venture has a listing of which kinds of books are most wanted.

Moreover, the mission has a partnership with Blacksburg Books by which retailer patrons can instantly purchase and donate books which were ordered to fill particular requests from letter writers. Up to now, they’ve obtained over 350 books from this cooperation.

And, in fact, assistance is at all times welcome at ebook wrapping events.

“All of those items construct an even bigger image,” stated Owens. “Collaborating in occasions like this, but in addition educating your self and realizing what you are able to do to enact systematic change, I believe, are the 2 pillars of being an activist.”

Written by Mary Crawford

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