Reblogged from my other blog.
Kay, the book lady
As a mental health and substance abuse clinician working in a community clinic, a certain percentage of my clients have been incarcerated at some point in their lives. A while back, one of my clients told me about Books Behind Bars, a non-profit organization that sends books to people in jails and prisons around the country for free. I had never heard of Books Behind Bars before, but I could see immediately what a wonderful gift it must be for those who are incarcerated in institutions that often have very little access to books, and I decided to contact Kay to learn more about the program.
Kay started the Quest Bookshop almost thirty-five years ago. It’s one of the few independent bookstores left in town, and it’s located on West Main St. About twenty years ago, she started sending books to inmates who requested them, and she’s been doing so ever since. Kay told me that she receives about twenty-five letters a day asking for everything from dictionaries and books on home repair to mystery novels and classic literary works. As a non-profit organization, they function on donations, and during the school year, a number of UVA students help fill the orders.
When I asked her why she does what she does, her answer was simple: “How would we feel,” she replied, “if we didn’t have any books to read?” From looking over some of the many thank-you letters she receives from book recipients, it’s clear just how important her work is. You can read excepts from some of the letters sent by grateful inmates here.
Many community members have donated books or money to keep Books Behind Bars in operation, including John Grisham and Coran Capshaw. I encourage you to consider going to the Books Behind Bars website and making a donation yourself.West Main Street in Charlottesville, VA