Thank you for your interest in helping the incarcerated men in our Commonwealth! There are some steps to volunteering within our prison system that may seem cumbersome. Every piece of our process is designed for volunteer safety and to ensure the most rewarding and fulfilling experience possible. We appreciate your patience, as some of the below steps can take some time to complete. Please, look below for the general process, and, as always, 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 names, titles, your relationship, and contact information), along with our volunteering form to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our general volunteer interest form assists us in finding the right opportunity for you given your availability and expertise, so it is a requirement to volunteer through Concord Prison Outreach. Our administrative assistant, Bronwyn Becker, will send you upcoming dates for the CPO and DOC orientations, as well as shepherd you through the volunteer onboarding process.
Step #2—Once we have reviewed your volunteer information and touched base with your references, we will contact you about attending 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, and helpful hints. Those facilitating the orientation will be experienced volunteers who often have contributed their time in more than one of our programs over the years.
Step #3—After attending CPO’s orientation, prospective volunteers attend a mandatory orientation through the Department of Corrections (DOC) or Middlesex House of Correction (MHOC), depending on where they want to volunteer. The DOC or MHOC’s orientation provide information about facility rules and regulations, as well as about the logistics of volunteering. At or before this orientation prospective volunteers are provided a substantial packet to complete. The packet includes volunteer emergency contact information, CORI forms, and PREA information. The incarcerated populations in the Commonwealth are considered vulnerable due to their status in the jail and prison systems, but 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 Bronwyn 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.