Week in Review

Monday                                                                                                      May 4, 2020

Today we began classes again and were able to watch videos. When everything came to a halt due to Covid-19 and social distancing, a lot of us wondered what was next. We were worried about the growing issues that were sweeping the world beyond these doors. As we waited, we managed to keep each other focused and hold ourselves to a higher standard. We continue to pray and show each other love, making sure that all our PEP brothers are holding up. Without classes, it is easy to become complacent, but we have kept ourselves busy by continuing to work on our assignments. We have continued to read our Entrepreneurship and Living in the Village books. We still seek knowledge, determined to change ourselves for the betterment of those around us. We have continued to participate in Toastmasters and have grown in our own unique ways.

The idea of being self-sufficient, caring, hardworking, punctual, responsible and dedicated to our families who desperately need us has been our driving force to succeed.  We have worked hard to change and are committed to ridding ourselves of selfish, repetitive behaviors. We strive to fix unhealthy character traits and replace them with positive ones. We may not be home, but we are with our families during this trying time. Our hearts go out to those who are struggling and are still holding on. And for those who find it impossible to continue, we are praying for you.

Enrique D. (a.k.a. “Scrappy Doo”)

Tuesday                                                                                                   May 5, 2020

In the middle of this trying time, we are fortunate to be in a safe environment. The last couple of months have been difficult and discouraging. Despite this, we have remained in a state of calm, persevering through our fears. Through all this, we at PEP have continued to hold ourselves to a higher standard, and in this environment, it has been the ultimate test of our character. This program has given us a set of 10 Driving Values to live by, and they have been our foundation. We have been shaped to lead so that we might find light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Now we find ourselves here in that dark time. Losing our class structure and losing our teachers made us feel defeated. However, in the midst of all the chaos, our upper classmen stepped up. They reminded us that PEP is not just what happens in the classroom or a program we enrolled in just to receive a certificate. PEP is who we are – it is how we live and how we succeed in life despite whatever the world throws at us. So what did we do? We restructured our classroom to the living area, and our Servant-Leaders did what they could to teach us and continue our business plans. We maintained our study groups and even made up a Family Feud game with the Entrepreneurship material. Our upper classmen even continued to test our knowledge to help ensure our success. We have continued with our business pitches and our Toastmasters speeches. Now we are beginning to get some teaching from businessmen in the computer lab. They have shown us great heart by making us videos to teach us and lift our spirits.

It is through the efforts of others that we have learned the most important lessons of all: that no matter what situation we may find ourselves in, if we stick together and stay the course, we will succeed; and to succeed is to persevere. No matter what happens from this point on, this class, Epic 2020, will be known as the class who persevered.

Manuel D. (a.k.a. “Cry Baby”)

Wednesday                                                                                              May 6, 2020

During these hard times, we have undoubtedly experienced various trials and tribulations. Even though it has been difficult, we have continued to do what is necessary to keep up the morale and culture within PEP. We have continued to give our Toastmasters speeches in the dorms while striving to keep the same formal atmosphere that we had in the classroom. We also held our Venture Capital Panel event separately in the dorms and held a “final five” out in the gym during recreation. All of our Servant-Leaders have really gone the extra mile to ensure that all the participants have what they need to continue to learn. They have instituted game nights, study groups, entrepreneur classes and various other activities in an effort to keep our spirits up during these difficult times.

We have also continued to have our accountability groups within the dorms every week. We are discussing topics relevant to our current predicament, and it helps to open discussion and vent in a healthy way. We have also continued to have our monthly dorm meetings as well. Yesterday we were able to start our Entrepreneurship classes again by watching videos over the lessons in the computer lab. All of us in Epic 2020 are grateful for the executives who took the time to prepare those videos for us. It feels good to be doing something again. Even though these times are difficult, we constantly remind ourselves that we are Servant-Leaders on a mission to transform inmates and executives by unlocking human potential through entrepreneurial passion, education and mentoring. All volunteers and executives associated with PEP are always in our minds and our prayers – peace and blessings.

James D. (a.k.a. “John Cena”)

Thursday                                                                                          May 7, 2020

Our PEP family has shown its true colors during the Covid-19 pandemic that rocked our nation. Right from the onset, our extended family has been willing to reach out to our nuclear family members to ensure that mothers and fathers were well, and children were being careful. There is often a helplessness that is associated with not having the ability to be present in a time of need – the time when we believe our families need us the most. Our PEP family has been mindful of this need and has stood in the gap where help has been needed and reassurance required. To see the relief on a brother’s face when he is told “my wife called your aunt, the test results were negative, and it was just a cold”; that ability to reach out is priceless.

Within the housing areas we have had similar results. At first, it was reminiscent of the story about a great new sailing vessel that was crossing the sea. Each system that was within the vessel would argue its superiority: the housing berths, because they kept the passengers warm and dry; the hull, because it kept the water out; the boiler, because it produced the steam power; and the rudder, because it steered the course. Yet when the great new vessel encountered an unparalleled storm, and was rocked and beaten about, each system realized its relative importance to the whole. In the end, when the destination was on the horizon and safe passage was achieved, the systems sang a different song that told of how we bore the storm and delivered our passengers safely to port. This is not a sirens song. This is PEP.

The pods have pulled together. Within them we have continued to participate in Toastmasters. Some who were uneasy speaking on serious subjects in front of a group of strangers are now dropping the ums out of their sentences and making eye contact. Others have learned the value and impact of an introduction, a body, and a conclusion in a public speech. Many who were convinced they could not memorize a paragraph, memorized a full three-minute elevator pitch and sold their idea convincingly with body language. Others who were on the fence as to whether they would be able to complete the program have found a renewed vigor in the face of the uncertainty that plagues the working class of our great nation. Historically, entrepreneurial start-ups have fared well following economic turn-downs, and we in PEP recognize this potential and seek to capitalize on this opportunity.

In conclusion, the micro-organization that is PEP has functioned similar to the macro-system that is our country. Together we have weathered the storm and found that our strength comes from one another and that we are stronger together. We are a team of winners. We are PEP.

Glenn D.  (a.k.a. “Motor Mouth”)

Expressions                                                                                     

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you do also to them …”

~ Jesus

In Matthew 7:12, Jesus says to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This inspirational quote has changed the way I think and has helped me to grow.

First and foremost, it was something that was said by Jesus, who is my Lord and Savior, and anything he has said is important. This quote inspires and encourages me, because as we all know, we are human and oftentimes make mistakes. We also have three basic human needs: to love, to be loved and to feel important. If I want to have character and integrity, I will treat others as I would want to be treated. Sometimes I need help, so I will help; sometimes I will want to be forgiven, so I will forgive; and sometimes I will need someone to understand, so I will show understanding. All people come from different walks of life and have gone through different things. People react to situations based on their past experiences, and I need to understand that in order to be able to show love and patience.

This quote has helped to grow by helping me to see others as Jesus does. Also when I treat others as I would want to be treated, it helps me to feel good about myself as I live according to my faith. It helps me not to commit any more crimes because in one way or another, all crimes are linked to a fellow human being who I am supposed to be showing Jesus to through my behavior. This also helps me to grow by giving me strength to endure. Being inspired by this quote will not only help me to continue to change, but it will help me to help others as well. And after all, it feels good to be a positive influence on life and others in it. God bless you all, and our prayers go out to you.

Cory E. (a.k.a. “Crash Test Dummy”)