Monday, September 23, 2019    

Today was filled with men whose amazing outlooks and excited attitudes were absolutely contagious! We started with Computer Lab, applying the finishing touches to our business plans and résumés. In the afternoon, we were called down to go over guest lists for graduation. Some of us have not seen our family members in years, let alone to see us graduate anything, so anticipation is definitely in the air.

During Leadership Academy, some Servant-Leaders were called upon to speak about “Servant-Leader Mentality,” one of PEP’s 10 Driving Values. We never stop growing, even after graduation; we are always a part of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program. Being a Servant-Leader is a fundamental role when it comes to being a PEP graduate. If you are not giving, then you are not living! There is always something to be passed on for a greater good when you lead by example with humility.   

Phillip S. (a.k.a. “Chris Pratt”)

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Today was an incredible day for us. It was actually a day off for most of us, but there is always work to be done. We are anxiously preparing for our Pitch Day event at the end of the week. Everyone is very excited (and a little nervous)!

We have been building ourselves and one another up for this by utilizing all of the skills we have learned in Toastmasters. There has been a lot of work and dedication on everyone’s part to ensure that we are well equipped. There is a strong sense of accomplishment among the brethren of Fall ’19. The closer we get to graduation, the more we realize that all of the struggles and late nights have been worth it. We have developed a bond that is uncommon in a prison environment.

The remainder of our day was filled with assuming the role of a Servant-Leader. We have been helping the class of Spring 2020 through encouragement and sharing our experiences with them. As the day drew to a close, we gathered in a group for “prayer call,” where we have an opportunity to thank God for His bountiful blessings and present our petitions. It is one of the best parts of the day!

Gregg C. (a.k.a. “Chow Hall Bandit”)

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Today, we attended and completed our last Entrepreneurship class. What a relief! We not only made it through, we finished strong! This has given each of us an amazing sense of accomplishment.

This program has not only been a growth experience, but it has also been a glimpse of the power and reward of dedication. Individually, we want success, but throughout these past few months, we’ve grown closer and discovered how to succeed as a group. We are a team – a brotherhood! We will now go forward and focus on the Business Plan Competition by continuing to practice and perfect our pitches.

It is quite a feeling to be able to stick to something through dedication while continuing to ascend. We are a little more weathered due to studying, tests, speeches and other requirements, but the PEP experience has made us stronger than ever. We have invested so much time and effort into this program that turning back is out of the question. Fall ’19 is an unforgettable class, and we will forever be remembered as Kings!

Charles E. (a.k.a. “Larry the Cable Guy”)

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Today was another blessing given to us from above. We know tomorrow is not promised, therefore we make the best of each day, giving it our all while thanking the Lord above. Today, we went over the heart wound in Authentic Manhood. We learned that we are naturally born separated from God with a rebel’s nature.

So we must be born again spiritually to be restored to our rightful place, at the right hand of God through Jesus Christ. Depravity means we must not trust ourselves alone and that we are dysfunctional by nature. Our flesh is evil, which is why we need to put our trust in God.

We all realize that we do in fact have a heart wound. Through focusing on serving God’s purpose and seeking guidance, we learn to strive for God’s greater reward. Authentic Manhood is the first phase of PEP and it helps us to analyze the many different wounds we may have experienced in the past. We are all ready for a new beginning and a great future to say the least.

Robert E. (a.k.a. “Sid”)

Friday, September 27, 2019

Today was a magnificent and unforgettable day for the Kings of Fall ’19! The long anticipated Pitch Day event took place, and it was such a wonderful learning experience for us. We received some honest criticism and awesome feedback from the executives on our panel.

As we prepared for these events and nervously awaited our turn to pitch, there was one important fact that we often lose sight of – the executives are here because they truly care! Speaking as a representative of our class, one thing can be said with absolute certainty: we are extremely grateful for that uncommon kindness exhibited toward us. We finished the day by reflecting on the event and the conversations that we held. We will now begin to reform our business plans based on the advice that we received.

Despite the anxiety that led up to this point, today was well worth all of the work. Graduation is just around the corner, and we are anticipating that sense of accomplishment that we will receive as we walk across that stage. Equally so, we are very excited about all of the new possibilities that our futures hold.

Robert F. (a.k.a. “Tommy Chong”)

Expressions

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Each and every one of us has encountered a unique set of challenges in life. For some, it may have been “surviving” the streets, while others struggled to navigate the difficulties of parenthood or blindly attempted to decipher the nuances of a relationship. Regardless of the form in which these challenges manifested themselves, a running theme among most of us is that these challenges brought out the worst in us. Those of us who managed to survive those ordeals either gave up trying to figure them out or just stopped caring. In either case, we lost a crucial part of ourselves somewhere along the way.

In the Prison Entrepreneurship Program, before we are taught how to start a business, we are required to look within ourselves. We give each demon a name, then proceed to perform an internal exorcism. Only then can we begin to build a foundation that will be able to withstand the weight of success. Any change of this magnitude does not come easy! To make matters worse, when things get really hard, we want to revert back to our default settings.

Going through this program, I lost count of the number of times I wanted to quit. Thankfully, I was surrounded by a great group of men who refused to let me give up on myself. As you traverse this season of transformation, I won’t lie to you and say that it’s going to be easy. But, I can promise you two things: 1) You are worth it! and 2) You are not alone!

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

Fearless Fall ’18