Our growing community of more than 100 readers and volunteers is drawn from 23 states and the District of Columbia. They come from all walks of life and range in age from teens to octogenarians. The diversity of their backgrounds and experience is matched only by the variety of benefits they find in working with College Guild.
“College Guild has opened up my mind. This organization challenges stereotypes about prisoners. I have loved being able to read the writings of prisoners and provide them with feedback. I understand the importance of being listened to and respected, and it is very rewarding to feel as though I am helping to empower a group of people whose opinions are usually disregarded.
-K., a college student
“Because of [the] emphasis on being positive, I learned to always find things to praise in students’ work; and that makes them AND me appreciate it more. I’ve received thank you letters and felt a real connection to the students. I don’t know what their past was, but I’m sure College Guild is very different, and that as I discover their opinions and potential, so do they…Being positive, educating, getting feedback, and seeing results – College Guild has meant satisfying work.”
– R., a retiree
“For many years, I had been wanting to do good work for something that I didn’t receive a benefit from…Lack of time and feeling most volunteer opportunities to be like a chore were my major hurdles. I stumbled across College Guild in a magazine, and it sparked my interest…Volunteering in my home, on my timetable, I [can] read and comment on the written work produced by prisoners….What keeps me active in College Guild? The students are deeply appreciative of the work we do. I have received one personal note of thanks, and I’ve read comments in the newsletters and Christmas cards from students exuberantly expressing their thanks for treating them as people and giving them the opportunity to grow. It’s great to be appreciated in such a direct and immediate way.”
– K., a teacher
“I am in my eighth year as a reader for College Guild, but I am still impressed by the enthusiasm and effort that our students put into each unit of work. Many of our students have not yet mastered basic reading and writing skills, and it is clear that they had a frustrating and unsuccessful time in school…College Guild is offering a second chance to these failed students, and when I have had the opportunity to read successive units of work by the same writer, it is clear that they are making real progress. That is rewarding to me…For me, this is not just a humanitarian project; it is also a very practical one, because it establishes a bridge to help released prisoners return safely to their communities.”
– R., a retiree
“I’ve never though of myself as a teacher. I never thought I had the patience to absorb someone’s thoughts, to rearrange, dissect, and reassemble the ideas scratched in the answer space of a problem or question. Too hard, I always thought, waste of time. College Guild has shown me that I was wrong, that being a teacher is hard, but it is certainly worth it. It has taught me how valuable it is to teach others, to make the effort to know and share in the thoughts of someone else. I read ideas as they develop and then are twisted into new ideas with clear cut symbols growing on the page like the seedlings of a mind constantly renewing itself with every response set down on paper. A mind that in that moment is fixated on an answer, on working to find one, on giving everything possible to be able to sit back and say, “I’m done. Problem solved.”…This opportunity of completing something and rejoicing in its completion is something I take for granted. My goal as a reader is to give students a challenge, something which will make them work, make them think, and make them smile as they circle a number at the end of a calculation. If I can aid the students in finding, even for a moment, that sense of satisfaction, then my time was well spent.”
– Z., a high school student
“College Guild, by treating prisoners with respect, conveys an essential message…By corresponding with prisoners and helping them to grow through a wide ranging curriculum, we might repair what was broken. We might create new conditions by which that prisoner can re-enter the world and see new possibilities for living a fulfilling and productive life.”
– J., a newspaper editor
“We as Readers share much common ground with the inmates as we work together at the challenges of Creative Writing. We as well as they work on our communication skills, on artistry, on clear expression, at increasing our knowledge and appreciation for the art of writing. We as Readers happily listen, and then share our thoughts and responses, having an outsider’s perspective while gratefully aware that we are also recipients…We nourish but in turn are nourished by our students. We receive inspiration from our students. In addition, they entertain and amuse us as they reveal their own unique giftedness…It is a pleasure to be involved in this very important rehabilitation work. I hope that College Guild will become more and more active, drawing in many other persons from the outside community.”
– C., a journalist