Week 20


Week in Review


Monday November 20, 2017

Today was another fun day in the PEP room. The day started out with a pod coach meeting in the morning, then it moved on to pray-outs in the afternoon. I am real happy for all the soon-to-be-graduates, whose commitment to stay together and work through all of the different stages of this nine-month class shows the true desire for change. One week left until the Legends of the Fall ’17 will be graduating. I am really looking forward to seeing families and the looks on their faces when they see the new authentic men all have become. The ride was not as easy as it sounded, but believe me it was worth it. I wish all my brothers the best in life. May God bless them! To the class that is about to go into the second phase, I have some words of encouragement: whatever you do, do not quit, even when the road gets tough and you cannot see what’s on the other side of the fence. The struggles of life are not easy, so take this as a learning experience and follow through with commitment to change. Remember, you are the ones that are going to benefit from this in the end. So whatever you put into this is what you will get; you reap what you sow. Joe A. (a.k.a. “Chile Piquing”)  

Tuesday November 21, 2017

Today was “Big Bang Tuesdays!” in Leadership Academy and Men’s Life. Since we are the big brothers to the new class coming in, my brothers from the Legends of the Fall ‘17 and a few servant leaders came to help facilitate the new class in Leadership Academy. We started off by listening to Robert Lewis in Men’s Life talk about what it means to be an authentic man: accept responsibility, reject passivity, lead courageously and expect the greater reward, God’s reward. This never gets old and every time we hear this, it refreshes our minds on what it means to be a good man. In the festivity of the Thanksgiving holidays, we watched a movie to relax and enjoy the company of our brothers for the holidays. We were reminded that it is a blessing to be here at the Cleveland Unit, and that PEP invited us here to change and to become better men. We not only work on our character but we work on each other. And as a family, we can watch a movie and just feel some kind of way blessed. This may not be home for us. But here, we are a family. Alexius T. (a.k.a. “Cherry Dr. Pepper”)  

Wednesday November 22, 2017

We got to experience our second graduate meeting today. I can remember when we were just a group of individuals going through Men’s Life and Leadership Academy; how time flies by when you’re having fun. Now we are about to graduate, and the experiences that we have gone through have been a big lesson for us. Now that everyone has come together and the end of second phase is near, we have thought about how we met each other for the first time and made new friends. It seems like it was just yesterday that we started the class. Today we are practicing our pitches for the Business Plan Competition (BCP), which will take place two weeks from now. We have formed a true brotherhood in this family we call PEP. Now we look to seeing our families come graduation day. I want to thank the brothers who are still here and will join us for our celebration two weeks from today. We will always have something in common, for we are brothers and we are the Legends of the Fall ‘17. Alejandro G. (a.k.a. “Starburst”)  

Thursday November 23, 2017

We spent our Thanksgiving Day in states of reflection. We have come a long way over our periods of incarceration, and I have a lot to be thankful for. God has truly been good to my brothers and me. After all of the time that we’ve been gone, we are thankful for the love and support of our families. A lot of us are also blessed to be loved by significant others and friends who shows us nothing but love, loyalty and commitment. We have many things to be thankful for, especially good health and a promising future that awaits us upon our release, a future even more promising because of our involvement in PEP. We have come a long way over a long period of time and despite our current situation in prison, we know we are far more blessed than most. The holidays are usually tough on most of us, because we have been away from our families for so long. We all carry memories of time spent with the special people in our lives during the Thanksgiving holiday, and look forward to the future where we will be reunited with them. In the meantime we are surrounded by brothers we love as new members of our extended family. A bloodline only signifies a genetic relationship. It is love and loyalty that defines the true nature of what it means to be family. Adversity, disappointment and regret have been close companions of ours for many years, but now that this chapter of our life is almost at an end, we see the light at the end of the tunnel, and that light is the bright future PEP has provided for us. That alone is plenty to be thankful for, but as we look around we see that the blessings are abundant. Terrance S. (a.k.a. “Cherry Blossom”)  

Friday November 24, 2017

Many of us struggle with loneliness and doubts about our faith at times, and it can often feel overwhelming. But as we look back on how far we have come, we can clearly see how God has carried us to a better place. Seeing how God gently brought us through each trial reminds us that all of this will one day be part of a greater story of healing love. Psalm 30 is a celebration psalm that similarly looks back with amazement and gratitude on God’s powerful restoration. The psalm is attributed to David, to whom we owe some of the most pain-filled laments in scripture. But David also experienced restoration so vast that he was able to confess, “Weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning”. If you are hurting today and need encouragement, recall those times in your past when God carried you through to a place of healing. Pray for trust that He will do so again. Antonio R. (a.k.a. “Honey Graham”)  


 “For things to change, we must change. For things to get better, we must get better.” ~Heidi Wills This past weekend I went around the Unit asking several different people what they were thankful for this year. Many said they were thankful for their families. Some said they were thankful for their children. One said he was thankful for the Warden and for being on this unit. And others said they were thankful for PEP. For me, I am thankful for my son. He brings the good out of me in everything I do. On Thanksgiving morning I called my son to say Happy Thanksgiving to him and his mother. While we were talking, my son’s sweet voice asked me if I wanted to speak to his “Nona.” After a pause, I uncomfortably said “sure buddy.” I have some resentment toward “Nona” and I’ve thought this over and over in my mind about how I was going to handle it when I got out. More so, that when the time came I would smile and say “I forgive you” and give her a big hug and go on with my life. When I heard her voice come on the phone, old feelings of anger and hatred came about and I didn’t feel so good. But I said Happy Thanksgiving to her, spoke for a little bit and just as quick as she got on the phone, she was off. My son was back on the phone. I told him, “Thank you for that, buddy.” My son is my angel. God spoke to me in that moment through him, reminding me that I am going home soon and I need to be ready to forgive everyone and to be ready to receive forgiveness from everyone. I am not the same man I was 5 years ago. I have grown so much, and there is still room to for improvement. We may think we have everything planned and know exactly what we want, but in a split second a “Nona” moment may happen and you have to be ready. For me, my heart still needs a little work. And to better my heart, I have to forgive more and love more and most of all be thankful for what I do have in this moment. For all of you, stay thankful for what you have. Work hard and strive for what you don’t have. Give yourself the greatest opportunity to change and be successful. Alexius T. (a.k.a. “Cherry Dr. Pepper”)