Volunteering has always been a passion of mine. Indeed, giving back and paying it forward are principles I feel deeply and innately.
Generally speaking, where I donate my time isn’t static; I, like everyone, change and grow — and with that, priorities also change and grow — but, dedicating time each week to volunteering is incredibly important to me.
Several months ago, The Amazing Race launched season 33, a series the hubz and I always watch. It was a catalyst for my current selection of volunteer work (more on that below).
As we tuned in for the series premiere, we were completely surprised when we recognized one of the season’s contestants: Ryan Ferguson. The hubz and I spent 20+ years in a small midwestern town…the same small town where native Ryan had been convicted of a grisly murder. Because of the modest population of the town (at the time) a shocking crime such as this was HUGE news. Admittedly, we didn’t follow much of the story, but when we saw him on the season opener I immediately went to Google and uncovered his utterly tragic story. Here’s a very brief rundown:
- Wrongfully convicted of murder as a teenager and spent 10 years in prison: Wiki Page.
- His story is a heart-wrenching Netflix documentary: Dream/Killer.
- Hosts a weekly podcast: Prison Counts.
Once I’d begun learning more and more about Ryan’s story, other alarming (i.e. inhumane) aspects of the US Correctional System unveiled themselves. Thus, the two organizations below are where I’m now giving my time and/or donations to.
If you already volunteer, whatever your inspiration may have been, you understand the tremendous satisfaction of giving. If you haven’t yet found your cause, my sincere hope is it reveals itself to you…because once it does, the feeling of fulfillment is indescribable.
Adopt An Inmate
‘Adopt An Inmate’ is a non-romantic / platonic penpal service matching those of us outside of prison with those on the inside. Below is their Mission Statement:
Adopt an Inmate invites society to treat people in prison as valuable members.
Each time an inmate is ‘adopted’, their voice is amplified, their family grows, and one connection at a time, we are made aware of how the criminal justice system treats the people it presumes to judge.
Adopt an Inmate provides education for both the incarcerated and their adopters, increasing the likelihood that the incarcerated will be prepared to enter the community and will be successful once they arrive.
To learn more about this incredibly worthwhile non-profit organization, check out their website: AdoptAnInmate.org.
‘LGBT Books to Prisoners’ is a non-profit organization that sends gay-themed reading material to those incarcerated. Books are frequently one of the few escapes available to those imprisoned. Below is their Mission Statement:
We are a trans-affirming, racial justice-focused, prison abolitionist project sending books to incarcerated LGBTQ-identified people across the United States.
To learn more about this incredibly worthwhile non-profit organization, check out their website: LGBT Books to Prisoners.