Archive for the ‘Washington’ Category

Books to Prisoners encourages knowledge and self-improvement.

Thursday, March 7th, 2013

Books To Prisoners (BTP) is a Seattle-based, all-volunteer, nonprofit organization that sends books to prisoners in the United States.  BTP believes that books are tools for learning and opening minds to new ideas and possibilities. By sending books to prisoners, BTP hopes to foster a love of reading and encourage the pursuit of knowledge and self-improvement.

Founded in the early 1970s and sponsored by Left Bank Books, BTP receives 1,200 to 1,300 requests for books each month. Volunteers work two evenings a week opening letters, finding books in the BTP collection that correspond to the request, and wrapping and mailing parcels.  Because of continuing backlog of requests, prisoners sometimes wait up to six months to receive their books.

Prisoners request a variety of books.  Most prisons accept paperback books only.  The most popular requests are dictionaries, thesauruses, African American history and fiction, Native American studies, legal material, GED materials, and languages (particularly Spanish.)  Other common requests include fiction, vocational-technical manuals, politics, anthropology, art and drawing, psychology, and health and fitness.

BTP has three associate organizations – Portland Books To Prisoners, Books To Prisoners Olympia, and Bellingham Books To Prisoners. These sister groups assist in answering letters, mailing packages, and soliciting book donations.

As one of the largest prison book projects in the country, BTP works in conjunction with other agencies that support prisoner literacy and promote social justice.

Last year, Seattle BTP, along with chapters in Portland, Olympia, and Bellingham answered a combined 14,900 letters.  Bellingham BTP sent out over 10,000 books.

We are pleased to donate copies of Inquire Within – A Guide to Living in Spirit to Bellingham BTP. A young friend once asked why we donate our books to prisoners. We answered that many prisoners will one day be released from prison and it would be nice to know that they had been working to improve themselves. We know that we have helped at least one person. Jim has had regular written correspondence from a man who received a copy of Inquire Within while he was in prison. He appreciated our book’s gentle guidance and resource section listing many other spiritual and self-help books. He has since been released from prison and is doing very well with his family and in his community.

If you are in the Seattle, Portland, Olympia, or Bellingham areas, and would like to donate new or used books, particularly paperbacks, BTP would be happy to accept your donations. You can also choose to volunteer your time wrapping packages or make a cash donation to cover postage. Learn more here:  Books to Prisoners.

Letter from a prisoner to BTP:

I became aware of your organization and its vital work recently when a fellow prisoner let me use his big, beautiful dictionary.  When I complimented him on having such an obviously fine, advanced book, he told me about his own quest in which you sent him his Random House/Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary more than a year ago.  It is his most prized possession here where such a wonderful reference work is rare, indeed.  I am a reformed black man earning his GED and trying to improve himself, his life, and his prospects after prison.  If you will consider sending me a dictionary, I will use it often and well.  And with your blessings, I will tell other inmates about your company and its compassionate work.  Thank you very much.


Why Kindness?

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Celebrate Kindness Hosts Jim and Lisa Papp with Emcee Deb Slater

There may be nothing on Earth each of us wants more from others than Kindness!

I was recently thinking about the Celebrate Kindness! free community event Lisa and I hosted in our town of Bellingham, Washington last July 23, 2011. We have discussed whether or not we would host another Kindness event in 2012. We planned the 2011 event to coincide with a talk I gave entitled “Why Kindness?” inside Village Books in Bellingham. We don’t necessarily think we’ll host regular Kindness events, but rather, we wanted to highlight the importance of being kind everyday…kind to yourself, kind to others, and kind to the earth.

Here’s a recap of that July 2011 event…

We rented the beautiful public outdoor park/community space called the Fairhaven Village Green right outside Village Books. I gave a short talk on Kindness. You can watch a video of my talk on the home page of this site.

We were happy to have a great group of people presenting at the event and helping behind the scenes:

  • Robert Bates, our fun and very talented teacher of  Qigong (“chee gung” – easy Tai Chi), led a Qigong demo showing how you can be kind to yourself by reducing stress and staying healthy with this simple, easy-to-learn and very beneficial practice. Qigong can boost your immune system, help reduce blood pressure, and may help prevent against everything from colds to cancer. Robert’s website includes many free videos and blog posts on Qigong practices and his class schedule: .  He also has two Qigong DVDs for sale which are both available at Village Books or from him…Fun With Qigong – Five Flows Set and Fun With Qigong – Delightful Dozen.

Celebrate Kindness attendees doing Qigong with Robert Bates, Qigong teacher

  • KVOS’ Marla Bronstein shared “Gimme a Minute … on Gratitude”.
  • Zoe Schackel, 2010 Bellingham Battle of the Bands winner, sang.
  • Deb Slater, host of “Community Extra” on KVOS TV, was our fabulous emcee:
  • Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike helped us welcome people and spoke about how fortunate we are to live in an area with so many kind people, companies, non-profits, and government agencies.
  • Audience members shared the mic to tell stories of acts of kindness they performed or had observed. We heard great stories about kind neighbors, kind strangers, people giving up a seat on the bus, and other nice stories.
  • Participants helped make paper chains of kindness. Thanks to for the inspiration.



Paper chain of kindness


  • Lisa had a lot of help creating and managing the event. Thank you to fabulous Bellingham/Whatcom County event planner Cantrice Hiler (contact:, John Palmer, Bob Ridgely for sound (, James Bauckman and Kyle of Revolutionary Productions filmed the event (, and Copy Source helped with flyer and sign printing (

How can you be kind to someone today? Don’t forget to also be kind to yourself and to the Earth!

We would love to hear from you. Please share your stories of kindness. (Comment section at the bottom of this post.)

We also had fun giving away gifts from our generous and kind sponsors:

  • Delicious, healthy, and kind-to-your-body Goodies (Breakfast Cookies, Brownies, Granola) from Erin Baker’s Wholesome Baked Goods in a reusable Erin Baker’s shopping bag –

  • Personal Training Session with Patti Guarino, ACSM Certified Health Fitness Specialist, at her private training studio in Fairhaven –

  • Gift certificate for a hair cut and “kind to you and the Earth” Loma hair and body products from Hair With Julie. Julie Hiler is at Tropix Salon in Fairhaven –

  • Buethorn Watercolor Studio – Bellingham artist Candance Buethorn’s beautiful watercolor prints on gift cards, a mug,  and a journal.

  • KIND Healthy Snacks  provided us with boxes and boxes of yummy and healthy KIND Bars to give out.





  • Do-it-yourself Henna Art “Tattoo” Kit from Jamie Olson –
  • Robert Bates – Fun with Qigong Five Flows Set DVDs and our Inquire Within books were given away.

How can you be kind to someone today? Don’t forget to also be kind to yourself and to the Earth.

We would love to hear from you. Please share your stories of kindness here…