Monday, April 29, 2019

Today a lady named Laura S. came in to see us at PEP. After she introduced herself and told a few jokes, she began telling us everything about our preparation for graduation day. She began to elaborate on previous issues that needed to be addressed, and more often than not reiterated them to avoid future problems. She also mentioned that we are allowed “four bellybuttons” at graduation – in other words, children count as guests. Plenty of sacrifice is going to be needed from our end in order to make things go smoothly. She also encouraged us by telling us how important we are and what this organization does for every individual. We were also provided with contacts so that we can begin to inform our family so that everybody is involved.

The deadline for families to sign up online for graduation is July 8th. Trying to sign up for graduation after that date will be utterly a waste of time, so we were advised to pay close attention to everything she was saying. That part of the presentation was crucial because if these simple directions weren’t followed, then graduation for those individuals wouldn’t be the way it should be: a time of celebration, which we all are looking forward to. The last thing she said was her team of Family Liaisons will not start contacting anyone until June 7th.

Tommy J. (a.k.a. “Spare Keys”)

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

We started the day off praying in, followed by our daily reading. Just as we were all getting ready to empty out our pockets to take our test, they “moved our cheese,” but in a good way: we did not have to take our Living in the Village test, so it was great to just relax a little bit. Jason J. and James M. were our facilitators who went over a presentation on Chapter 11, which deals with eliminating low-risk debt. The reason low-risk debt is called “low-risk” is because it is debt backed by assets. It is a secured debt. Basically you have to put something up for collateral, such as your car or your home in order to get a loan. We also talked about student loans. Student loans are among the fastest growing low-risk debts that hurt Americans on a daily basis. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, tuition increased by an average of eight percent per year from 1979 through 2001. As a parent, one of the first things you should do is to start a college savings fund or a traditional savings account, which are the ones we covered in our assigned reading.

We also went over “rent versus buy” analysis. There are advantages to renting: less liability, limited repair costs and property upkeep. However, there are also downsides to renting, including monthly payments that can fluctuate, limited control and poor investment maximization because you are not building equity. We talked about house mortgages and some of the examples they gave us are the traditional 30-year fixed loan and a traditional 15-year fixed loan. After the presentation was over, we worked on our vision boards. We put down our Phase One goals as well as our Phase Two goals. It was really fun to be able to relax a little bit at the end of the day, especially since we have to study for tomorrow’s entrepreneurship test. Overall, it was an amazing day, and I am extremely thankful to be here.   

David K. (a.k.a. “Snap-a-lot”)

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Walking into the class, we could feel a lot of pressure as brothers and classmates because we had to face an entrepreneur test on Chapter Six due to us all being nervous (or shall I say anxious), because some of us were. We always start our days off giving the Lord thanks for allowing us to be here another day, then we read the word of the day. Once done with the word of the day, we showed love which is one of PEP’s 10 Driving Values to each other and we started our day.

Our brother Abraham S. cracks me up every time he comes down the aisle dancing, because he has a little swag in his moves, but he danced to the front of the room and introduced himself, then told us to face the library for the test. You can always tell when it’s a test day because everybody walks in the classroom with their study guide out in hand. They passed out clipboards first, then the test. Once we turned toward the library, there is no talking, so you can hear a needle drop when taking the test. We took the test and when everybody turned theirs in and time ran out, we straightened our chairs and proceeded with class. Even though the test was done, there is always a little more pressure to find out your grade and if you passed or not, but you still have to wait for “issues and tissues.” If you are wondering what issues and tissues is, it is when the Peer Educator stands in front of the class and goes over the test with us, and if you have an answer marked wrong that you believe is actually correct, he will address it. My favorite part is that if the answer is still wrong when you go up to get correction, there is a roll of tissue up in front of the class with him, and you will get handed a piece so you can wipe your tears away. It is really hilarious. There were a lot of people who got some tissue today!

We also had an executive graduate who is now our CFO come and teach us EOU’s. Tim H. did an excellent job teaching us about the Economics of One Unit today – he is a very smart individual. Once he finished, he told us he would be coming back next Wednesday to bring us more insight on how to run numbers for a business.

Then as class came to an end, we received calculators to assist us with our homework. One thing about this brotherhood/fraternity is that God does deserve all the glory. His provision is helping us become better sons, fathers, husbands, uncles and brothers to our families. So if there is anything I would like to express, it is that “We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” (Marianne Williamson)

Ismeal K. (a.k.a. “Ashtray”)

Thursday, May 2, 2019

It’s a gloomy day today here at Sanders Estes Unit. We had a pretty good thunderstorm roll through here last night. So today the skies are still gray, which is pretty nice when you want to get a couple extra hours of sleep in the morning. Today is the last day of the week for us. This past week has been a real busy week for all of us in PEP. Monday is usually our Toastmaster’s class; however, we got our cheese moved. For those of us who go to classes in the afternoon we got a surprise. We were visited by the Family Liaison, who helped us with figuring out our graduation information. This provides an avenue to keep our families informed. All of the new Phase One brothers are showing up, and it is interesting to be able to see the other side of the program. It is our responsibility to always produce a reflection of true change so that our future brothers notice. No matter how difficult the challenge, we are always preparing to be of service.

Despite the adversity of the entrepreneurship tests, EOUs and homework for the names test, I am glad to be part of this program. Let me mention that nothing in this program is easy. It’s been over 20 years since I have been in school, but I’ve noticed that because I am determined to succeed, I know that I will overcome. Aside from all the projects and rescheduling, we are all growing in a more positive direction. We hope that everyone has a blessed and wonderful day.

Dustin K. (a.k.a. “Marilyn Monroe”)


“It’s better to know than wonder forever.”

~ J. Frost    

This quote has inspired me, and I have implemented it as a way of life. It has stuck with me ever since I first heard it and has served me well in the majority of my daily affairs. There are times that I have become overzealous and taken it to the extreme. For the most part it has been very beneficial. It has helped me to find the drive to seek out the unknown in the many situations, not only in my daily challenges but also in my endeavors in life. A lot of light has come into dark places. It has helped fuel my curiosity about questions that the average person overlooks or takes for granted. It has also caused me to ask who, what, where, when, why, and how things are the way they are. It has pushed me to look past the surface, and I am inclined to go sometimes off the deep end, often going headfirst. This outlook has helped me tremendously in many areas. There is a balance intellectually, spiritually and physically. It has helped me find true conviction and to persevere to be a better man. I am striving to be the best version of myself that I can become. It is better to know than to wonder forever, and to me this means that I should never settle for face value, but that I should always ask questions and find out for myself.

Jon K. (a.k.a. “Chike”)