Monday, August 19, 2019

Today started off a bit slowly. We woke up and proceeded to get ready for Toastmasters, while the Accountability leaders were called out for their weekly meeting. When they returned, there seemed to be some sort of delay in calling out Toastmasters. To our surprise, the entire Fall ’19 class was called out to take the two tests that were postponed due to the Spring ’20 Kick-off Event on Friday.

We took a test on the final three chapters of Living in the Village. Immediately afterwards, we took a test on parts one and two of Crime and Punishment. After the tests, the whole class seemed to agree that 20 minutes did not seem like nearly enough time to figure out the matching vocabulary words. It was a brain-wracking test to be sure. We were all hoping that we did well so we could avoid any homework for not making the grade. It was a relief to be done, but the day was just beginning; it was now time for the morning Toastmasters class.

Toastmasters is always so interesting. We are able to hear so many different ideas and experiences from a wide range of people. There is no better way to learn about someone than to listen as they talk about their lives and what is important to them. Today, Alton C. presented an inspirational speech on change and the steps he has taken in his life. Miguel M. gave a vivid account of his family traveling in two separate vans, when his mother had a wreck and flipped the van in front of him. Other topics we heard about today included the best ways to style a person’s hair into a Mohawk and inspirational ideas to help motivate and achieve success. Each Toastmasters class is an intricate look into the way people think and operate.

Each day we are presented with new opportunities to know our brothers a little better than we did the day before. We never know what we will learn from the people who are around us until we take the time to stop and listen. This is an important fact of life that many of us had never put into practice until we came to the Prison Entrepreneurship Program. We continually grow in our knowledge and wisdom as we learn to love our brothers each and every day.

Scottie B. (a.k.a. “Banana Split”)

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Today was a very busy, yet blessed, day! Many of the members of Fall ‘19 had computer lab. We were told to go through our business plans and make any necessary changes. It was our last opportunity before they were to be sent off to the printers. We checked everything to make sure that the whole thing was perfect: the Executive Summary, Personal Fit, Résumé, Opportunity and Solutions, Target Customers, Extras, Differentiators and Marketing.

The new Spring class of 2020 attended Leadership Academy today. They are going through the Quest for Authentic Manhood curriculum. After watching the lesson video, they broke up into small groups and discussed the lesson, sharing their insights and perspectives with one another. Afterwards, the class talked about having a dream and making it a vision.

At the end of the day, we gathered in our dorms and shared what some of our goals and dreams are. Life is all about priorities! We talked about where we have been, what prompted us to change, where we are going and how we will get there. Before turning in for the night, people completed their necessary homework or studied for the next test. All in all, it was just another day in the life of PEP.

Leonard J. (a.k.a. “O.J. Simpson”)

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Today was an exciting day here in PEP for the class of Fall ’19. We were called down to the PEP room earlier than expected to take the much-anticipated “Names Test.” As a fraternal brotherhood, it is important that we know the names of each person in our class, just the same as we would know the names of all of our family members and co-workers.

After lunch, we attended our Entrepreneur class. We took a test over chapter eight’s “Ratios and Sensitivity Analysis.” The test was a little harder than we thought it would be, but we were well prepared. Once the test was complete, we had a guest speaker. It was none other than Bert S. (a.k.a. “Chocolate Truffles”). He gave us a lecture over Chapter Nine, which consisted of the formation of different types of corporations.

Over the course of the last seven months, we have walked beside one another as we journey down this path of becoming better men and entrepreneurs. Today, we not only learned a lot about the corporate world, but we were also able to identify the brothers that we need to become better acquainted with.

Jorge P. (a.k.a. “Pedro”)

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Today was a pretty easy day for the members of Fall ’19. Since there was no official class today, everyone took advantage of this time to study for our test on Friday. The new Spring ’20 class was called out for Leadership Academy. With a large number of the people gone, the dayroom was much quieter, and this provided the perfect atmosphere for studying.

Our Character Development Specialist, Greg P. (a.k.a. “Flower”), gave a presentation over Integrity, which is one of our 10 Driving Values. Throughout the week, we have had the chance to go over this value and put it into practice. All of us in PEP strive to do our best to live and abide by these values.

After we were done studying, we started going over questions to ask the executives at the event next Friday. It will be our last opportunity to gain information before we start writing our business pitches. Graduation is just around the corner, and we are thankful for the knowledge and values that PEP has instilled in us.

Oscar B. (a.k.a. “Big Perm”)

Friday, August 23, 2019

Today the Kings of Fall ’19 were surprised with a test on a book that we were assigned to read. The book, entitled Integrity Selling, is a wonderful tool that analyzes the approach that makes people more likely to buy. We were tested to determine whether or not we understood the material we read.

We also had a special guest speaker named Jesse M., who came in to talk with us. Jesse M. is a graduate who has been out of prison for 11 years, after serving an 18 year sentence. His speech was motivational and very informative. Everyone listened as he told us stories about the oil field and how he worked his way up from a floor hand to a supervisor. He told us that not everyone starts their own company, and that there is nothing wrong with working for someone else. His words will definitely help us when it is our turn to be released.

Before ending the day, we prayed out some of our brothers who are about to be released: Jason B., Jeremiah J. and Librado G.—we wish you brothers luck. Show the world that we can be upstanding citizens and that there is always hope. God bless!

Justin R. (a.k.a. “Norbit”)

Expressions

“The marvelous riches of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.”

~Helen Keller

The Prison Entrepreneurship Program is, once again, in full swing. The Spring 2020 class is in the character development phase of the program, referred to as Leadership Academy. In this stage of the program, they will start to identify their character traits. To accomplish this task, they must be willing to take an honest look at themselves. Before any of us can even begin to unpack the baggage in our lives, we must understand our strengths and weaknesses. With that knowledge, our Spring ’20 brothers will embark on a journey to redefine themselves.

The Fall class of 2019 is wading, chest deep, into the business portion of the program. They have been working tirelessly to formulate a business plan that is both logical and practical. They are constantly being inundated with assignments and are being tested in every way possible. However, their greatest test is just ahead of them. They will be required to stand before a panel of business executives and convince them that they have constructed an idea that is viable, workable and worthy of investment. Those who persevere will be able to hold their head up high and stand a little taller, confident in the fact that they have achieved a major milestone in their lives.

It is important for these men to understand that they need not navigate this passage unassisted. They will need the strength and support of every family member and friend. They will also need the guidance of the Servant-Leaders who have successfully walked the path themselves. Stay the course, my brothers – the road ahead may be fraught with obstacles, but a new life awaits just over the crest!

James R. (a.k.a. “Biscuits and Jelly”)

Fearless Fall `18