The Old Dominion Chapter of the Verizon Pioneers has donated over 500 copies of A Student’s Dictionary to the Quest Institute of Charlottesville, VA, for its Books Behind Bars program. Kay Allison of the Quest Institute has been providing books to prisoners through this program for almost 20 years. The prisoners write to Books Behind Bars to request certain books or subjects they are interested in. The most requested book of all is a dictionary. Ms. Allison says she receives over 600 letters per month from prisoners requesting books. Many of the prisoners are young men and women who got in trouble early in their lives and never completed their education. Often they tell her that the books she sends are the first books they have ever owned. Here is an example of the letters sent to the Quest Institute:
Thank you for not forgetting about us.
Thank you for volunteering your time.
Thank you for your love.
Because of you all I am able to share what I learn with others. You don’t even know me yet I’ve learned so much from all of you. You all selflessly give of yourselves and your example has allowed me to ‘pass it forward.’
. . . We are what we think! Because of people like you I am changing. I want to share that for the first time in my life I know SELFLESSNESS. Thank you!
The prisoners especially enjoy A Student’s Dictionary because, in addition to the dictionary which is easy to understand, it has a variety of useful information in the back. They like being able to read the Constitution and all of the information about the United States and the world. They also enjoy the sign language alphabet.
We at the Dictionary Project are proud to be part of the Verizon Pioneers’ contribution to this important project.