Week 15

Week in Review

Monday January 21, 2019

Today was a very busy day for us in PEP. We started off the morning with praise reports. These are where we acknowledge each other for doing a good job. Test grader Doug M. specifically put in several to recognize people who showed significant improvement. After several more acknowledgments by our peers, we prayed-out a few brothers on their way home. This is a sacred ceremony where the soon-to-leave brother chooses a handful of close friends to say some words of encouragement. Once released, they will get a copy of what was said on video to look back on. Today’s were for Jo Anthony O., Andrew T. and Rodolph C.

After that, we moved on to our Integrity Selling presentations. We have been reading the book, and a couple of people from each pod made PowerPoints to present a chapter to the class. I gave my presentation on Chapter 11 with Ryan S., Terrick S. and Josh J. presented Chapter 12. Then people who already have their business plan pitches memorized were called upon to present them to the class. We heard about Jeffrey’s oilrig patents, Cortez’s tire shop, Jeffery’s real estate ventures, James’ art studio and Joshua’s dirt bikes.

Surprise! – we had an unexpected pop quiz on the AP style guide addendum we were given a long time ago and forgot about. Classmates that failed will be copying the addendum – the worse they did, the more copies they will need to handwrite. I passed with an 82%. Whew! We then watched American history videos covering the Civil War before going to lunch. After lunch, we submitted our completed Toastmasters speech logs, sang “Happy Birthday” to Cedric R. and watched art history videos about impressionist artists Gustave Caillebotte and Mary Cassatt.

Andrew T. (a.k.a. “Cheddar Bob”)

Tuesday January 22, 2019

We have a few assignments that are being managed at the moment in class. Being able to juggle this all throughout the week has taught us a sense of willpower. We as brothers strive to reach our goals, then set new ones and keep progressing. We are currently reading a novel called Crime and Punishment, which, while controversial, is so full of meaning with a splash of symbolism. We test on Wednesdays over vocabulary and story plot questions. We are also memorizing our business pitches day by day. They must be 7-12 minutes when all is said and done. I’ve memorized about half of it already. 

This week we will take our last entrepreneurship test on the elements of franchising and what the process is when buying a franchise or an existing business. This material is very valuable, and I believe most of us here are very serious about this phase in life. We also keep the energy around here magnetic and humorous. Many of our brothers have awesome personalities that light up the room and help create a synergy from each in positive ways. In other words, we understand how to keep our energy balanced in the classroom and maintain a sense of dignified countenance. The desire to see each and every PEP brother succeed is the seed planted in the collective minds around here to shape new futures and be better human beings. We are PEP!

Andrew T. (a.k.a. “Lil Bit”)

Wednesday January 23, 2019

Wednesdays are usually very packed with things to do in the PEP room. We took our Chapter 14 test from the entrepreneurship workbook. After turning in extra credit work, we thought the smoke was clear, but nope! – we had a surprise 10 Driving Values test! I’m sure we all passed though. We live out the 10 Driving Values daily and wouldn’t have made it this far without them. The surprises were far from over however, because we were instructed to split the class into four groups for pitch practice! Today was a lesson learned on being prepared for whatever may come next.

We were also able to participate in an activity that should be everyone’s favorite: pray-outs! Some brothers received the blessing of parole, and a few of our brothers spoke some encouraging words over them. It was a wonderful feeling to be part of a brother’s pray-out. Excitement, love and joy are always in the air! Go Redeemed ‘19!

We have been pushed and motivated because our Pitch Day event is approaching fast. The teamwork and encouragement Redeemed ’19 received today from the graduates was a great boost of confidence. Last but not least, eight brothers gave pitches for some family assistance, and the love and support that was shown by the class was absolutely amazing. This has been an experience that shows the good in man and how much our class really has come together. Overall, today was a great day.

Levelle V. (a.k.a. “Little Lorenze Tate”)

Thursday January 24, 2019

After finishing our last entrepreneurship test from the book yesterday, we all took a much-needed deep breath. Several of us continued in our Servant-Leadership posts as facilitators, emcees and doormen for Phase One’s Quest for Authentic Manhood class during the morning hours. Many of us spent time in the dorm practicing our 7-12 minute pitches. Others enjoyed a few extra well-earned hours of sleep or went and strengthened their bodies at rec. Each man in Redeemed ’19 is committed to improving himself mentally, physically and spiritually. We’ve all noticed tremendous change in the character and personalities of all the brothers here, and we have grown so well acquainted with each other over the last 8 months. We frequently joke with one another about how we used to be before the growth that has come with PEP.

After lunch, all of Phase Two headed to the PEP room for pitch practice. Keeping consistent with our Driving Value “Innovation,” we divided the class into quarters with chairs facing inward so that we could have four people speaking at the same time. The innovative chair arrangement kept distracting noises down and allowed each of us to stand before his peers and give his business plan pitch. We definitely were able to see the improvement in one another’s public speaking as well. The Toastmasters program’s targeted objectives were evident as we spoke. We have each given at least a dozen speeches on various topics by this point which has allowed us not only to hone our skills, but to get to know one another on a deep level. Each man successfully gave his business plan pitch with only a note card for assistance. Well done, everyone!

Benjamin V. (a.k.a. “Maury Popovitch”)


“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friend.”

~ Apostle John

I chose this scripture from the book of John because before I joined the Prison Entrepreneurship Program, my definition of a friend was way off of what it really means to be a friend. I have learned that a real friend will tell you when you are about to make a mistake. A real friend will hold you accountable when you do something wrong. A real friend will tell you what you need to hear and not just what you want to hear. A real friend will be beside you on the frontline and not send you out ahead of himself to engage in warfare. A true friend will be there for you even when you do not have any money.

In the past, I’ve been involved with people who have tried to make me believe that they know what true brotherhood is all about, when in fact they did not. When people come into the prison system, they usually go in to this defense mode where they have to seem tough. I know because I’ve done it myself. For years, I’ve put up this front that I’m some kind of hate-filled white guy ego, and that I had some kind of right to be proud of the person I was pretending to be. I look back now and realize that I put myself and my family through so much nonsense that it’s a wonder they have anything to do with me. I know now that it was all part of God’s grand plan to have me here at this moment, surrounded by my real friends, my PEP brothers.

Brad W. (a.k.a. “Rice Cakes”)