Week in Review

Monday, July 6, 2020

PEP is about embracing change. When our class started in November, many who were stuck in the so-called “prison mentality” were afraid of change so quit the program without giving it a legitimate chance. Those of us who chose to stay and embrace change started the process of shedding our old ways and preparing ourselves for a brighter future.

Yes, the pandemic disrupted our classroom activities and scheduled events many of us were looking forward to. During these uncertain times, many of our Epic 2020 classmates lost focus and the desire to succeed. They used the pandemic as an excuse to quit. Some quit because we didn’t get to experience the interaction with the executives plus the possibility of not graduating.

Many of us were counting on the graduation ceremony, since many of us never experienced any type of graduation. We were looking forward to the opportunity of letting our loved ones see us receive our certificates in cap and gown and actually witness the achievement we made. That was the driving factor for many of us. Although our families may not get the opportunity to witness our graduation, we cannot let the uncertainty that this pandemic has caused throughout the world to deter us or take away from PEP or its mission.

Epic 2020 has faced many challenges, and those of us who stayed focused epitomize the desire to succeed and are worthy to live “between the wings.”

Leroy R. (a.k.a. “Pops”)

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

The times we have faced recently have been stressful and uncertain. I am sure that many people look at our situation in her and think, “WOW, I will bet without Gami J. or David F. or any of PEP’s In-Prison Management there to take control, PEP must be falling apart.” Well, I am writing this journal entry to set the record straight: the true colors of our real PEP brothers have shined through as a result of this isolation. You see, it is really easy to put on a good show while In-Prison Management is here, and you are going into a classroom every day and told by the higher ups what to do and not to do. You see, real integrity comes out when only your peers are there to call you on your actions. If anything, this lack of management has only solidified my resolve in this program.

After speaking to so many of my brothers, I have come to realize that I joined PEP for completely different reasons. You see, I joined PEP for the environment and the lifestyle, but most of all, I joined PEP because the recidivism rate for PEP graduates is only 7%. This may not mean much to the average Joe, but I have been to prison three times for DWIs, and I know something has to change. I have spent a third of my life behind bars. I am 36 years old and I cannot afford to waste a single moment longer in this horrible place. I have (and will continue) to give PEP everything I have. I will not come back to prison.

Craig S. (a.k.a. “Little Debbie”)

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

PEP has given me an opportunity that nobody has given me before. I am thankful and will do everything in my power to become a successful person. PEP is going to be a life-changer for me and my family. Even though this pandemic happened, we never lost focus and we still did everything in our power to better ourselves. We know that PEP is going to give us all the tools that we need to become successful, but we have to put in the effort. PEP gave me all of the tools that I never had. They taught me how to prepare for the world and how to handle situations when times get hard. PEP is the best thing that ever happened to me. I am going to give my time and help them in every way I can.

I have met a lot of good people here, and they are my brothers for life. We have learned all types of values together, including how to be accountable for our actions, to show others love and to never give up. PEP has given us a chance to become successful and shown us how to be responsible. We have been shown how to lead and how to run our own businesses.

Even though this pandemic happened, we never gave up and we still learned what we could, and we thank PEP and the executives that made this a dream come true. Thank you PEP for giving me this opportunity, I am going to make you proud and show my family that I can be successful.

Charles S. (a.k.a. “Marshmallow Bunny”)

Thursday, July 9, 2020

PEP means a brotherhood of individuals trying to better ourselves. Our goals may be different, as in some want parole; some want a Baylor certificate; and some want PEP connections. We are all struggling, trying to do what is best for us without getting into altercations because stress is running high. Being a brotherhood, each of us is like a clutch to the other, helping each other out and motivating each other to stay in the fight. With the world tearing itself apart with COVID, protests and many other things, we are staying strong. PEP has helped us to stay level-headed and to look at every angle before we make our minds up about any decision.

Next would be order and discipline, which has helped us by giving us a means to have control in a place made to take our control away – especially when most of us, well all of us, have family on the outside and we can’t do anything to help them. But we can help in other ways. One way is by bettering ourselves through the program and ensuring our families that we are on the right path that will enable us to be better men.

PEP is a brotherhood, a rock that helps us stay on the right path by putting us in a place where we get order, freedom and understanding among other men on the same mission. PEP is a kind of peace in a place ravaged by war and corruption.

Jose S.  (a.k.a. “Korean Cookie”)

Expressions                                                                                     

“Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are … Men are anxious to improve their circumstances but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound. The man who does not shrink from self-crucifixion can never fail to accomplish the object upon which his heart is set.”

~ James Allen

This quote is self-explanatory, but it is very profound if you grasp the power of it. It’s essentially saying if you don’t like your circumstances, those circumstances are a direct result of the kind of person you have been; and if you want those circumstances to change, you have to change. To me, that comes as a relief because that is something in my realm of control. It reminds me of a saying I have heard my whole life: “Anywhere you go, there you are.” So if you have problems everywhere you go, at some point you have to ask yourself if you are the problem.

Another part of the quote I like is the first line: “Men do not attract what they want, but that which they are.” So if you want a glimpse of your character and what kind of man you are, take a look at your closest friends and associates. We can change the whole world, but it starts with ourselves. I think if you reflect back, you will find that the trajectory of your life – and in large part who you became – was affected most by the people closest to you, whether positively or negatively. So when we come to the point when we decide to take responsibility for the type of men we will be moving forward, we take control of a very powerful weapon: the ability to sow positivity and life into our children. To me, that is the greatest contribution we can make to our communities and society as a whole.

Jacob S. (a.k.a. “Vanilla Gorilla”)