Monday, August 5, 2019

Today, we had our Toastmasters International class. Every week we have five different speakers, which allows everyone a chance to speak. The day is filled with speeches, evaluations, a word of the day and theme of the day. We are all learning to be better public speakers so that we can demonstrate proper etiquette in the business world. Our brothers who have graduated before us are there to guide us through the process.

When presenting a speech, we pick a subject and title, then discuss it. Mostly, we talk about what we did for a living or our hobbies. For example, one brother talked about the fishing gear and bait needed to fish for Pike in Nebraska.

Each week, we look forward to hearing what the next group of people will speak about. Learning how to listen is another key objective in Toastmasters. When we speak, we have about five minutes to paint a picture, and the stories are always interesting and enjoyable.

Daniel S. (a.k.a. “Uncle Fester”)

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

This week’s business project consisted of building a résumé. We were really excited to learn the proper way to do so. Once the assignments were complete, we utilized our computer lab time by typing our résumés into the computer in three different formats.

As we learn each aspect of the curriculum, we begin to see a more complete picture. We are being given the tools necessary to begin legitimate careers or start businesses of our own. This is what PEP refers to as a “Fresh-Start Outlook.”

This program has been one of the most important experiences in many of our lives. We continue to learn so that we may prosper. Graduation is close! We cannot wait to apply all this knowledge and experience to the business world.  

Jesse S. (a.k.a. “Baby Joker”)

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

We give thanks to God for another day! Today, as always, we greeted each other in the dayroom. Most of us tried to get in that first cup of coffee before we were called out to class. Some of us had a full day ahead of us, with the computer lab in the morning and Entrepreneurship class in the afternoon. In the computer lab, we finished the Microsoft Excel lessons and moved on to PowerPoint. Thank God for the Servant-Leaders in the computer lab who helped guide us through each lesson.

After a fine lunch, everyone congregated in the dayroom in preparation for this week’s entrepreneurship test. We gathered in small groups for a quick review by quizzing each other. Our goal is to ace this test! There is much camaraderie and friendly competition as we strive to improve our GPA standings.

Once class was over, we returned to our housing areas to await our exam scores. We congratulated those who did well and encouraged the ones that are in need of improvement. As the new arrivals for Spring ’20 look on, we share the excitement of achievement and the knowledge we have received. The new class was excited to hear that they will be called out for a PEP orientation tomorrow. For many of them, it will be their first taste of the PEP experience.

William W. (a.k.a. “Chester Cheetah”)

Thursday, August 8, 2019

It could be said that today was a day off, but the Fall class of 2019 refused to reveal any awareness of this concept. The men’s persistence was evident as they grasped the potential of every moment, proactively building toward reawakened dreams thought lost and newly inspired options never considered available. We prepare for a better world by first becoming better men.

Today, we were motivating each other through high-intensity workouts and then encouraging one another as we absorbed and understood the keys to establish financially sound foundations and operational issues outlined in Chapter Seven of our entrepreneurship textbooks. This ties in well with our financial freedom studies recently discussed in our Living in the Village class. Chapters 11-13 covered eliminating low risk debt, responsible mortgage preparation, high-yield savings and diversifying investments with the benefit of an advisor or financial team. Though it all may seem overwhelming, we are now educated in the art and science of prioritizing and balancing.

The computer lab was opened today for character assessments and for those who needed a little more time or help editing their business plan financials. We would like to thank the PEP staff and executives for giving us hope and encouragement. They truly believe that we are not lost and that there is good in each of us. They are living proof that there is light in places that once seemed so dark.

Michael P. (a.k.a. “Nacho Libre”)

Friday, August 9, 2019

Today was our Living in the Village class. We started the class off with a test over Chapters 11-13, which dealt with different types of debts, investments and the costs and benefits of renting versus buying. After the test, we were given a presentation over Chapters 14-16. In these chapters, we discussed the importance of giving back. We also talked about how financial success means very little if we don’t achieve mental and spiritual prosperity.

All this tied in with everything else that we have learned this week. We talked about the importance of each class and how each provides knowledge that could determine our success. Everything we discussed was about establishing a financial foundation in our lives and for starting a business. Some of the terms we had to get familiar with were “equity investment,” “crowd funding,” “debt,” “loans” and “grants.” We learned how to analyze cash flow and keep track of all financial information through the use of balance sheets and income statements. With these tools, we will be able to provide a better life for ourselves and our families.

Kevin K. (a.k.a. “Kel”)


“Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;, and to depart from evil is understanding”.

~ Job 28:28

This passage from Job, the oldest book in the Old Testament, was written almost 4,000 years ago. Today, many misunderstand the concept of “fear,” overlooking the important aspect of reverence and respect.

As children we are told, “Don’t put your finger in the fire” (on the stove, in the electric socket, etc.). However, if you were like me, you learned only by being burned. Prison can be the ultimate learning experience; a place where wisdom is easily imparted to those who recognize and profit from the difficult, albeit effective, learning experiences readily available here.

Unfortunately, many inmates live up to the stereotype of being muscle-bound, but brain dead. We spend countless hours improving our bodies physically, but devote precious little time to strengthening our minds and spirits. PEP does an excellent job of encouraging us to use our experiences here, both positive and negative, to build wisdom. By doing so, we can become true Servant-Leaders in the biblical sense.

The challenge then is to devote equal time to exercising our minds. Reflect on and study your life experiences, mining the rich veins of ore to extract gems of wisdom hidden within our most painful trials, tribulations and failures. These mental calisthenics, when rigorously followed, can make us to be, in the words of Benjamin Franklin, “healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

Paul A. (a.k.a. “Life Alert”)