Hannah Zack had the opportunity to interview one of our longest standing and highly contributing volunteers, Win Wilbur, in January 2020.
Hannah:How did you get involved with CPO?
Win: Years and years ago, I was still teaching full time and I heard it about Concord Prison Outreach through Jean Bell [CPO co-founder], she and I both went to Trinity Church.
Hannah:What is the most memorable moment or accomplishment of your volunteer experience?
Win: I have loved teaching the “Read to Me Dad” program because it is interesting to work with men of all ages; many are young with small children ; occasionally we will have a grandfather join us to read a story for his grandchild in the program, and suddenly you see a whole different part of their lives. They love their children and they want to give something to their children to reminds them of their father/grandfather.
Past participants have come back to tell us how much their child loved the DVD that accompanies the book he had read out loud. One man told us that his daughter loved it so much that she would carry it around with her for days. The men are quite creative: one man had five children and he renamed the characters in a book for the names of his children.
Another woman and I started the horticulture program ten years ago and a few of the men has stayed consistent. They are so supportive and encouraging to one another. When my husband died I went back to the prison three weeks later and the men had taken one of their gardens to make a memorial for my husband, the flowers were blooming and they used stones and sticks to write out his name.
Hannah:What would you tell a prospective volunteer about being a volunteer at CPO?
Win: Some of these people have done sad and terrible things but they are very human people and they are very welcoming to volunteers. I hear time and time again how appreciative they are of the people who take time from their lives to come in — and do not even get paid! They can’t believe it.
Hannah:Has volunteering affected your life?
Win: I think it’s important to continue to work with the skills you have while you’re retired. I wrote the Read to Me Dad program myself and it was intellectually stimulating. Watching men change and transform their lives has inspired me to continue to do this work.