Volunteer

We Teach Dana

Dana is the Pali word for generosity. Service to others is a form of generosity that is foundational for life as a follower of Buddhist teachings. Service to people who are incarcerated is especially rewarding… perhaps due to its inherent difficulties and incredible rewards. Sanghas in prison are much more transitional than sanghas in the outside world. Men and women are transferred, extended lockdowns often leave volunteers on the outside for long periods, administration procedural changes effect our services. Yet even with all this upheaval, Buddhism is growing in popularity in prisons as more men and women actively seek meditation and mindful awareness as a refuge as well as a tool for dealing with the loneliness and fear inherent in prison life. As any volunteer will attest, “We get so much more out of service to these men and women than we give.”

Going inside…

If you are interested in volunteering, we would like to speak to you in person. New volunteers must meet specific requirements which are listed below. Once approved, a new volunteer will go inside with our regular volunteers for a three month period in order to determine if this is the type of service he/ she wishes to offer. If he/she decides to commit to prison service, we ask for a two year (minimum) commitment.

Would you like to become a volunteer?

If you would like to become a volunteer and are interested in attending and eventually facilitating Buddhist Services at any of the twelve prisons, one federal prsion, or two county jails, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Have an established ongoing sitting practice for at least one year.
  • Familiarize yourself with the Buddha’s core teachings.
  • Have access to a teacher or mentor with whom to discuss personal, practice or Dharma issues as they arise.
  • Agree to a trial period of going inside a prison for 4 visits or for a three month period (whichever comes first) before making a commitment.
  • After a successful trial period, willing to make a commitment of two years of service.
  • Apply for a brown card (chaplaincy card) after one year of service.
  • Attend yearly training for volunteers at the institution where you are offering service.
  • Attend volunteer training retreats.
  • Attend yearly daylong retreats within the prison. (one per year)

Application Form