Week in Review
Monday November 12, 2018
Today during Toastmasters everyone really started to open up. We had a few laughs and took care of business while doing it. It’s amazing to see how much we’ve all grown just in the short period of time we’ve been in Toastmasters. At the start of the course, all of us were against standing up in front of a group of people to open up and pour out what has been locked deep down inside of ourselves. Now it seems like everyone is beginning to embrace it and allow our public speaking skills that we never knew we had to shine through.
Throughout our Toastmasters class, we have all come together and built a bond that we are sure will carry us through the toughest of times. The brotherhood we have developed is something that will last even beyond these walls. I think I speak for all of us in saying that we are truly grateful to have had the opportunity to attend Toastmasters as well as the entire Prison Entrepreneurship Program. To have had the privilege to watch all of us grow so much is a pure blessing. We are over halfway through the program, and there is still so much room for improvement. It’s unreal. When all this is behind us, we will be able to look back and see how far we came and know that the way we push through trials today define the men we will be tomorrow.
Ricky H. (a.k.a. “Ricky Bobby”)
Tuesday November 13, 2018
Today, many of us in this class studied, studied and studied some more. We have a couple of writing assignments due tomorrow, and with all the fun we had this weekend with our pitch panels and thank you cards, some are playing catch-up while others are studying, but we are all learning. Our pitch panel event is called Venture Capital Panel (VCP), in which we give our business pitches and plans. We also had “opportunity homework” which is teaching us if there’s a want or need, then there’s an opportunity for business.
Before all the writing and homework this morning, we began with our morning devotionals, thanking God and seeking His will for us this day. Our four focuses of studies for tomorrow’s tests include Colleen R.’s Be on Your Best Business Behavior, a book on proper etiquette we all can use; a test to see how much of a brotherhood we have with a names test of everyone in our class, so this should be fun; Living in the Village, a book geared toward giving us fantastic financial futures, strength and community-building skills – one can hear on a daily basis brothers talking about how they’re already working on getting their credit score up or future gains in their portfolios; and a key term pop quiz, even though we didn’t have an executive go over this last chapter with us. I know it seems to be a lot, but every week is filled with good knowledge. Though we’ve been studying since last week, it’s crunch time and those who’ve got the information down are helping lift other brothers up in their studies, because were a brotherhood and we are coming out of here better than when we started. We are REDEEMED ’19.
Justin H. (a.k.a. “Beast Master Becky”)
Wednesday November 14, 2018
As we walked into the classroom on Wednesday morning, there was a flurry of mixed emotions in the air. H-j-k had commissary, so there was anxiety from that; excitement because we had a guest speaker; and most of all, it was test day! So after praying in and hearing a spiritual word of the day followed by a short introduction from our fearless emcee, Jared G., we turned our chairs toward the library to find out just how much knowledge we had absorbed this past week. The tests were passed around along with clipboards and 12 minutes on the clock. It was a test over Chapter Six vocabulary. After 12 gut-wrenching minutes, we passed the completed tests back in.
Next, we settled in for our guest speaker. Mr. Jim H. made his way up to the front of the room in the normal PEP fashion and was immediately faced with technical difficulties. This was no sweat for the PEP media team, who soon had Jim H. wired for sound. The 2 ½ hours that followed were without a doubt the most riveting amount of time that we had ever spent talking about cash flow. We learned about how to analyze and record our future cash projections, our actual cash flow and even how to chart an income statement. Before we knew it, it was already chow time. But not to worry – after chow, we returned to our seats for the second half of the day. What do you know? Test time again! This time we took a test over the proper way to set a table for our etiquette class. (Aced it!). Finally Jack and Jason regaled us with our Living in the Village lesson for the week. This week’s lesson was all about saving, whether setting aside personal money for an emergency fund to managing an IRA. As usual, we all felt a little more financially savvy when it was over. After a few announcements and two birthdays, we prayed out and headed back to our pods.
Richard H. (a.k.a. “Lucky Charm”)
Thursday November 15, 2018
Today after praying in, we immediately went into the Quest for Authentic Manhood video by Robert Lewis. Today’s chapter was focused on unpacking the second step to authentic manhood: unpacking our past. In doing so, we are faced and confronted wounds: the absent father wound, the overly-bonded with mother wound, the all alone wound. After watching the video, we broke up into our small groups and discussed the video among ourselves. After about a 10-minute discussion, we brought it to a close.
Continuing on a serious note, we had two Phase Two brothers give a presentation on Fresh Start Outlook, which is one of our 10 Driving Values that we strive to live by on a daily basis. We then opened the floor for Phase One participants William R. and Joseph L. to give us their testimony. We finished off the day with another one of our 10 Driving Values: FUN! The Phase One participants gave a few of their brothers sweet names. Just when the fun was at its peak, we had to pray-out because we were out of time. All in all, we had a productive day. All of the Phase One brothers seem to be receptive to the program and what it has to offer. I commend all of the Phase Two facilitator for stepping up and being Servant-Leaders, leading the way.
We’re growing everyday as a unit, as a brotherhood and as a family. Everyone is willing to lend a hand to help pull his brother up. We are no longer criminals; instead, we’re on the path that leads toward productivity in society. The road less traveled.
Johnathan H. (a.k.a. “My Baby Mama’s the Boss”)
A quote that has impacted my life is “You never know how strong you are until being strong is all you have left.” – Unknown
There was a man who once told me this quote during the darkest period of my life. These simple words were enough to change my life in a profound way. Not only was it inspirational, but it also motivated me to keep going and not give up. I remember a time in my life when I believed somehow that I was invincible … but then life and the reality of it had a way of dealing with me. One event after another continued to happen and, slowly but surely, that way of thinking faded away. I had been through so much until it had gotten to the point where I began to tell myself that I just couldn’t take anymore. My mind and my heart led me to believe that the strength I once had just wasn’t in me anymore. Pain and suffering has a way of consuming our being so much that being overwhelmed becomes an understatement. You pray that things just lighten up a little and that as a person your fair share of hurt will be over sooner rather than later. Then one day I was given the devastating news that my wife had passed away. I mean, I honestly couldn’t believe it. Every possible emotion you could experience, I felt. But what stood out the most for me was the feeling of being tired. Not only was I tired, but I had it in my mind that I couldn’t take anymore. Losing my wife literally knocked all the fight out of me. In my grief, I had many people do what they could to console me, but thinking back, I know this was the point where I had decided that I didn’t belong in this world. I was tired. I was hurt. And I was tired of being hurt. I had embraced the self-defeating thought that I couldn’t do it anymore – and that’s when this person told me, “You never know how strong you are until being strong is all you have left.” Probably saved my life, but it also taught me something. When things get hard and we feel like we can’t go on, no matter how hard it may be, we have to find a way to make it to tomorrow. For me, it was simply a matter of redirecting the spotlight I had on all the bad and allowing it to shine and show me the good. Giving up isn’t an option.
Willie H. (a.k.a. “Birdman”)