Week in Review

Monday                                                                                                      May 11, 2020

Today there is a sense of excitement in the air inside our living area. Everyone is excited about getting to go back to the computer lab to continue their entrepreneurship lessons. The last two weeks were filled with anxiety caused by the uncertainty of the future, which has finally dissipated. People are joking and laughing about who is going to do well on the upcoming tests. Some of the guys even look different today, since they have not been styling their hair in weeks, but today they are looking sharp.

We have all been assigned a computer and after we have logged in, the videos begin.  The PEP volunteer executives have recorded themselves teaching certain chapters. It is a great feeling to know that we are not forgotten about in the midst of this pandemic.

After watching the lesson, we then look at our market research for our business plans. The market research consists of searching our database for pertinent information on what we will need for our businesses, from equipment to licenses to costs and pricing. PEP helps us put together a complete and viable business plan in order for us to one day have our own businesses. So it only makes sense why we are so excited to get back to our entrepreneurial lessons.

Robbie L., Pod Coach (a.k.a. “Gingerbread Man”)

Tuesday                                                                                                   May 12, 2020

PEP is an amazing revolution. Who would have ever thought that such wonderful people, devoted to transforming lives, would still be so devoted to contributing during a worldwide pandemic? Well here at the Estes unit, PEP is as strong as ever. Our brothers who have made it home are keeping us in the loop and have been encouraging us to keep pushing forward toward success. Everyone is living up to their roles and sacrificing their time to help this next class with what they need to know. For those who have quit, well, you know what they say: “only the strong survive.”

Our brothers are creating innovative ways to keep the ball rolling. Our computer lab has opened up, and our business plan team is back to work on the guys’ business plans. Slowly but surely, everything is coming together. In the dorms, we are having fun nights to keep the men’s spirits up. When I look around and see the guys next to me, it leaves me with a feeling of gratitude. This whole revolution is destined to succeed – not even this crisis will stand in our way. The weekly groups are great, and they give us an opportunity to speak on the “word of the week” and check on each other in a group setting. The leadership here is amazing. Our communication with each other has kept our bond strong. I am blessed to be a part of this brotherhood. Everyone here has a duty, and most of all a brother to lean on.

Albert P., Pod Coach (a.k.a. “Hot Cheeto”)

Wednesday                                                                                              May 13, 2020

The coronavirus has brought about some devastating challenges for my PEP brothers and me, not to mention the effect it has had on our families. The unemployment rate has skyrocketed; there are purchasing limits on toiletries; and so much more. Nevertheless, my PEP brothers and I have taken hold of this unprecedented misfortune by living out one of our 10 Driving Values: Innovation. During this unforeseen event, we have employed innovation by stepping outside the box. We are still having pod meetings and studying with the guys from Epic 2020. We also still live out our other values as well, such as Love (“we are committed to service in love”); Fresh-Start Outlook (“we will treat every inmate with respect, regardless of background or personal history”); Servant-Leader Mentality (“we will lead by example with humility at the sacrifice of personal glory”); and Innovation (“we are committed to seeing beyond the current perception, and even the current reality, to break stereotypes and shape new futures”). And we can’t forget about Accountability, Integrity, Execution, Fun, Excellence and Wise Stewardship! With these tools and by putting God first, we will make it.

Booker T. Washington once said, “The circumstances that surround a man’s life are not important. How that man responds to those circumstances is important. His response is the ultimate determining factor between success and failure.” With that said, take heart and make God the focal point of your life and God bless you all.

Cedric J., Graduate (a.k.a. “Chocolate Pop Tart”)

Thursday                                                                                          May 14, 2020

PEP is starting to warm back up in the bullpen, but for our brothers at the Estes Unit, we are still playing ball. Last night we had another game night and got the PEP wings flapping. Shuffleboard was a blast, and the matches were quite intense. The games went late into the night, and though only one team received the title, all of the PEP brothers in M-pod were winners. With so much anxiety in the world today, it is amazing how PEP’s values were able to take away our worries and calm our minds. I promise that the camaraderie we had with each other was the most important thing going on that evening.

These types of game nights are quite important to the men in PEP. As one of the pod coaches, I feel this is an extremely valuable medium to help drive our brotherhood forward. We try to plan these types of events when we can, and we are so fortunate to have the opportunity to do so.

We cannot wait to get back into the full swing of things here in PEP. But we fully comprehend the crisis facing our world today. Until things get back to normal, we will continue to do what we can on our side of the fence. Thank you for spending a bit of your time reading about how we are doing. God bless you all.

Jeff T., Pod Coach (a.k.a. “Xena Warrior Princess”)

Expressions                                                                                     

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.”

~ Johnny Cash

This quote has meant a great deal to me since my incarceration. Because of my past, I have been unsure of my future and my ability to be successful. This hindered me for the longest time, and I began to think that I would forever be living with regret. Then PEP gave me an opportunity to become someone different, someone with a chance at success.

PEP taught me how to be accountable, have integrity and be a leader. Without the men I have lived, learned, and worked with, I would not be the man I am today. The Servant-Leaders who preceded me taught me that my past did not determine my future, and for that I will forever be grateful.

From the words of a man who also went through addictions and worried about how his past would affect his future came a better understanding for me. Now I can pass on this understanding to others who come to PEP and need to let go of their past too. This is something that I plan to do to make sure that men like me can overcome their past negative decisions.

Even with all that is going on, the leaders who taught me are still standing strong. They continue to teach me and many others, and their strength reminds me of Mr. Cash. The man in black always cared for men like me, and I hope the men and women who have dedicated so much of their time to PEP know that we appreciate what you do. We will never forget what you have given to us. God bless you all.

Gerald D., Peer Educator (a.k.a. “Squidbilly”)