Week in Review
Monday February 25, 2019
Today was another wonderful day in PEP. Accountability leaders and facilitators “turned out” (woke up early in the morning and went to the PEP room.) Redeemed ’19 participants were involved in the peer panels for those in Phase One. Peer panels consist of a panel of our peers who ask various questions, such as why they joined PEP to begin with and what their intentions will be throughout the remainder of the program. Those in Phase One also received their conduct contracts, which outlined what is expected of the participants and reviewed the rules of the program. They will be interviewed tomorrow by In-Prison Management and hopefully given the thumbs up to continue the program. Unfortunately, some of them may not make the cut. Some will be given the chance to redo Phase One, and some won’t get that chance.
In the afternoon, those of us in Redeemed ’19 were asked to go and spend a couple of hours in the PEP classroom. We did a pray-out for one of our brothers. A pray-out consists of four PEP brothers speaking, and each has two minutes to say something inspirational, uplifting or just something positive about the participant who is about to be released. Then the participant gets a chance to say something to his future self. This is done with a video camera and stored on a flash drive, which we will be given when we get out. These flash drives will contain not only the pray-out, but we will be able to choose 50 pictures of us and store them on this drive.
After the pray-out, we watched the last installment of American history, which gave us great insight on how America was founded with an entrepreneurial spirit. It inspires us to believe that anything is possible in this wonderful country.
Robert D. (a.k.a. “Cinnabuns”)
Tuesday February 26, 2019
I’d say it was just another Tuesday but it wasn’t. Today, all of the Phase One participants – soon to be Phase Two participants – filled up the PEP rooms to go over the contracts they were about to sign. It was not too long ago that all of us soon-to-be graduates were sitting in the same spots, thinking the same thoughts as these aspiring men sitting in front of us. If you sat back, taking a moment to look at all of them and the mixed feelings that showed on their faces, you would see one common thread: hope. With hard work and encouragement from us, one day they’ll be graduating as well.
After that, we went back to our pods and relaxed for a while. Over in H-pod, we were getting a birthday card signed so we can celebrate our PEP brother, William M. Then if we are lucky, we will go to recreation so we can get some fresh air and do some heavy weight lifting – you don’t get toned just sitting around! We read this really great book in PEP called Living in the Village, which encourages you to work mind, body and soul. I’m happy that my PEP brothers are the living embodiment of that teaching. To my left, I see brothers working out; to my right, a prayer circle; and ahead of me, people doing homework. It’s good to see so many men working to improve their lives. Now it’s time to unwind by watching some TV while we prepare for sleep and another great day ahead of us.
Robert D. (a.k.a. “Lois Lane”)
Wednesday February 27, 2019
Class was a little short today but, we still had a great time. Reality is really starting to sink in. As of right now, we are nine days away from graduation. You can literally feel a new energy in the PEP room. A free, happy, proud, relieved energy, rather than the usual nervous stressed energy that comes with taking tests and sharpening our public speaking skills. Today we worked on our graduation walk a few times. There are still some kinks in our performance at times, but for the most part we have it down. It’s exciting to know that next week there will be a roar of support in the background coming from our families and the loyal volunteers of PEP. We really have an awesome group of guys in our class.
After proving ourselves to the peer evaluators by showing them that we could execute our walk correctly, it was time to loosen up and have a little fun. The emcee for our class called us all to the back of the room, one dorm at a time, so we could all dance our way to the front. Then we all went again at the same time for round two. He even got one of the In-Prison Management volunteers involved! It’s always funny to see everyone dance across the room. Some of us are shy, some are outgoing, and some of us just have no rhythm whatsoever! We can all laugh at ourselves and have a great time.
We finished the day off on a serious note. A handful of guys were picked to give their business pitches to the entire class. The volunteers have no idea how nervous we get when they come in. Practicing in front of large groups helps ease that anxiety. Being in the spotlight isn’t very fun at the time, but when it’s over a sense of accomplishment follows. PEP has done a lot for all of us. I can honestly say that we are all different people now. We’ve all grown together. It is mind-blowing to see the effort put forth by all of the volunteers. PEP would just be another prison program without their involvement. This has truly been a blessing for all of us.
Jeffery D. (a.k.a. “Little Chili Pepper”)
Thursday February 28, 2019
Taking every aspect of our current situation into account, we have felt very blessed to have been able to walk down to the PEP room to learn, grow and continue developing our character. We are well aware that not everyone gets this opportunity, so we do our very best to retain and adopt everything we learn. Today we had American history, learning of the great sacrifices it took to make this nation the superpower it is. We learned about the brave men who took action when action was needed to bring about change and prosperity. We learned how America is a nation made up of many people, many nations, and many cultures united under one flag. We have learned that by knowing the past, we can face tomorrow with bravery and optimism. All the lessons of the past are lessons that we can apply as we continue to educate ourselves and continue progressing through the program.
Once we concluded the history lesson, we did a pray-out. A pray-out is a video that is made for a PEP brother who is about to go home. He selects three to four participants to say some encouraging words on his behalf. The purpose is for it to serve as a point of reflection, and as we look at it to draw inspiration and motivation. It also serves as a reminder of a promise made. It is given to the participant once released, and he can always have it handy and look at it whenever needed.
Once that was completed, we practiced our walk for graduation. We are all looking forward to graduation because we get to complete this journey and serve others as Servant-Leaders. We are all excited to see our families as well. We are PEP!
Samuel D. (a.k.a. “Mary Poppins”)
“Pray like it all depends on God, but work like it all depends on you.”
~ St. Augustine
To me this quote is inspirational and has made a change in the way I think. It inspires me to always keep God in my mind and work hard in everything I do. It lets me know that praying to God like it all depends on Him is the right way to live my life, because I truly believe that everything depends on God’s will. He is my Creator. I know that if I always work like it all depends on me, nine times out of 10 I will get great results. I believe that for every action there is a reaction, and what I have changed about me is how I act. Now, I think twice before doing something, and I make sure that everything I do is to better my family who loves me. I will always put others first. Since I learned to be a selfless man, most of my actions have been positive.
This quote has become part of my everyday life, and that is why I have placed it next to my mirror so that when I get the blessing to live another day, it’s the first thing I read. It reminds me to pray to God and to give my all every day; it helps me keep a good attitude for those around me when I go to class. It reminds me that I have responsibilities, and that’s why I pray like it all depends on God and work like it all depends on me.
Jose E. (a.k.a. “Borat”)