Home > Volunteering

Get Started Volunteering

Thank you for your email and interest in volunteering with Concord Prison Outreach!

There are various steps to complete before it is possible to volunteer in jail or prison. Each step of our process, which can sometimes feel cumbersome, is designed with volunteer safety and successful programming in mind. We sincerely appreciate your patience given the time it takes to complete the various requirements. While the general process is listed below, please feel free to contact us with any questions you might have.

Step #1–Email a copy of your resume that includes three references who can speak to your ability to volunteer in prison programming (reference’s name, title, your relationship, and contact information), along with our volunteering form to outreach[at]concordprisonoutreach.org. Our general volunteer interest form assists us in finding the right opportunity for you given your availability, interest and experience. Please note that prior experience working in a jail or prison is NOT required. Similarly, your professional experience need not necessarily correspond to your program of interest. We have, for example, mathematicians helping with horticulture and engineers teaching emotional literacy. Please, also copy our Administrative Assistant, Bronwyn Becker (outreach@concordprisonoutreach.org), who will help provide the upcoming dates for the CPO and DOC orientations, as well as shepherd you through the process that entails.

Step #2—Once the initial information from Step #1 is processed on our end, prospective volunteers will be contacted to attend a CPO orientation. In preparation for this meeting, please bring your questions! Our orientation is designed to give potential volunteers information about our organization, volunteering in the prison system, as well as general information about corrections and helpful hints. Those facilitating the orientation will be experienced volunteers, often contributing their time in more than one of our programs over the years.

Step #3—After attending CPO’s orientation, prospective volunteers will attend a mandatory orientation through the Department of Corrections (DOC) or Middlesex House of Correction (MHOC), depending on where you volunteer. The DOC or MHOC’s orientation provide information about rules and regulations, as well as the logistics of volunteering. At this orientation, but sometimes before, prospective volunteers are provided a substantial packet to complete. The packet includes volunteer emergency contact information, CORI forms, and PREA information. People who are incarcerated in our Commonwealth are considered vulnerable due to their status in the jail and prison systems; they can also pose safety concerns for those working with them. The DOC/MHOC helps volunteers prepare to navigate the line to ensure people’s safety and the efficacy of volunteer programming.

Step #4—Once prospective volunteers submit the DOC packet, it will be processed. Please note that this can be the longest wait before volunteering, sometimes taking a couple of months. Please contact us if you wish for an update of your status. The DOC is eager to have volunteers begin their work, but volunteer background checks can be slow.

Step #5—Once volunteers receive approval, they have the option to observe two programs or classes before volunteering. After receiving approval, please, notify Holly if you wish to observe a currently running class or program.

Finally, please note that there is a variety of programming that ranges from educational to emotional regulation and parenting or hobby/interest programming. As you complete your form/s and work through the various steps, it is helpful for us to know if you desire to facilitate a class alone or prefer to have a partner. Please know that it is fine to change your mind, we simply want to have a sense of our volunteers’ comfort levels for scheduling purposes.

You are ready to volunteer! We will be in touch regarding available programs meeting your needs and possible start dates.

Thank you for your time and consideration.