Frequently Asked Questions

How do I become a volunteer?

To become a volunteer is simple. All you have to do is attend our 90-minute volunteer orientation. Our volunteer orientation covers an introduction to FOCD, a brief explanation of U.S. immigration detention, and step-by-step instruction on how to visit a person in detention. Upon completion of our volunteer orientation you can start visiting on your own, or a FOCD mentor can support you during your first visit. Register now to attend our next volunteer orientation.

What is the role of a FOCD volunteer visitor?

The role of a volunteer visitor is to simply visit. You don’t have to promise or do anything more than visit. By visiting you are providing an invaluable service that provides friendship to someone in isolation, a boost to morale, and a smiling face. As a visitor you are not an attorney, mental health professional, social worker, pastor, or a source of financial support to a detainee. Some volunteers choose to provide additional services to the person they are visiting, for example, send books, send letters, or purchase a phone card. These additional services are outside the mission of our visitation program and the personal choice of each volunteer.

I only speak English. Do you need English-speaking volunteers?

Yes, very much! We visit people that speak fluent English. Additionally, immigrants are very eager to practice their English-speaking skills. Visiting someone who speaks a different language other than yours is a fun and effective way for both people to learn a new language.

How often am I expected to visit?

As a volunteer it is important that you do not overcommit your visits (we want you to look forward to your visits and find them enjoyable, not a chore). It is also important that people in detention do not wait long periods of time between visits, to help maintain morale. For this reason, we ask that you visit at least once a month.

When do I have to visit?

Volunteers choose when they want to visit (providing it is within the facilities visiting hours). All of our volunteers maintain their own visiting schedule.

Can I visit with another person, or do I have to do it alone?

Yes you can. Volunteers can visit the same detainee with another person. Our only requirement is that all people visiting must complete our volunteer orientation.

Can I volunteer if I am under the age of 18?

Yes you can. All we ask is that your parent or legal guardian sign our liability waiver on your behalf. Additionally, per detention policy, if you are under the age of 18 you are required to enter the detention facility with an accompanied adult.

Does Friends of Orange County Detainees participate in advocacy / immigration reform activities?

We do not. Being a humanitarian organization, FOCD does not have any political affiliation or policy position. Our volunteers may choose to participate in these activities, although do so independently. If you are interested in participating in advocacy work, please visit CIVIC.