Monday, Dec. 2, 2019

We have listened to many men speak, but none of them have inspired us the way our fellow PEP brothers have. It is absolutely amazing to watch hardened men allow themselves to be vulnerable. The fact is that being in the PEP classroom can cause us to be emotional and express our true feelings. All of us notice this happens in the PEP room on Mondays. It is amazing how interesting conversations get when people talk about things that they are passionate about.

A lot of us use our Toastmasters speeches to express opinions that may be in opposition to others’ in their own way. We have noticed that we say to each other what needs to be said, not simply what people want to hear. The Phase Two Toastmasters facilitators evaluate us so that we can become better speakers, but they also help train us to understand and critique people in a totally honest way. True help is not only in the eye of the beholder but also the recipient. In order to truly to inspire people, we must understand them and their deepest desire or need.

We are becoming a strong-knit family because of honesty in here. Our class, “Vision 2020,” has become a real force. We have come a long way as men, constantly gaining strength and momentum. We have each others’ backs and rely on each other. We have actually started to apply the 10 Driving Values in our lives. These values have been driven into our minds and are now being seen in our actions. As every participant was called up to do his last speech, the entire class showed support and love by giving respect and attention to each speaker. It gives us confidence when real respect is shown, which is why we are able to get over our fear of public speaking.

Toastmasters has changed us in so many ways and has helped us beyond belief, and we can’t wait to show these skills to our family and friends. We are stronger now than we have ever been.

Adan M. (a.k.a. “Princess Bell”)

Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019

We are on our second day of motivational speeches, and our class is doing really well thus far. Each member of “Vision 2020” is presenting really informative, humorous and sometimes personal speeches. It seems that some men in our class have really embraced and accepted the values that this program has revealed to each of us. One by one, we stood in front of the class and gave words of motivation in our own way. For example, Christian C. gave a great speech about global warming, and Damian P. gave one about PEP’s 10 Driving Values.

Each one of us has really gained a lot of confidence while being in Toastmasters. We are evaluated on each speech we present in front of our peers. The Servant-Leaders grade us on our overall presentation and communication. We all are still working out some nervousness in our speeches by controlling our body language and using words that don’t add value to our speeches. But here’s the truth: when we finish this course, we will be more confident and prepared to give speeches in any type of environment.

Each of our class members has shared some great stories and real-life events that give inspiration to overcome any condition or situation in life. We still have more people in our class that have not given their speeches yet, and we are eagerly awaiting more motivational stories.

Lashawn M. (a.k.a. “Ms. Beatrice”)

Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019

Today started out very early for us in the pod. We all felt the pressure this morning from the entrepreneurship test we were about to take, so all of us Phase Two participants were up studying in the dayroom.

We went to the PEP classroom at 7 a.m. as usual. After turning in our assignments and any homework that was issued, we faced the library: it was test time, so time to put our knowledge of the previous week’s lesson to the test. It consisted of 30 questions, some multiple choice and some fill in the blank. While testing, our instructors arrived.

Today’s entrepreneur PowerPoint presentation was taught by Michele G., accompanied by her inseparable friend Cindy V., who later informed us that she was in training in case she needed to teach this week’s lesson on “Establishing Operations” in the future, which included the use of critical path charts and tables.

The morning went by so fast. Michele G. was a great instructor. I guess the saying is true: “Time flies when you are having fun.” We learned about various business advantages and disadvantages associated with location analysis. She taught the importance of forming relationships with banks in the case we ever needed them to finance us in our businesses. She also discussed how important time management is in our businesses and in life in general. It was a great and wonderful learning experience once again. Thank you, PEP.

David M. (a.k.a. “Doc Brown”)

Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019

Today was a great day because we got to hear some of our brothers’ Toastmasters speeches. They were all amazing and well prepared. Each one of them had different stories, but they were all of the same mindset: they all spoke about the 10 Driving Values in different ways.

We learned that we are not perfect in life, and we have all made mistakes. One of our brothers has had a hard time with letting things go. He shared that it was hard to get away from the past because he never did anything right and hurt a lot of people that he loved. He is doing what he can to make things better before he gets out because he doesn’t want to live with regret. This brother has come a long way from where he started out, and it is really showing today.

With PEP in our lives, we are able to break down barriers and become better men. As long as the 10 Driving Values are in our lives, we will be able to embrace morals and responsibilities that we never had before. This is giving meaning to what we are trying to do in this program. We have been given every tool in the toolbox, and it is our job to use them when we are released. Some of the tools that we need are for communication and conflict resolution. If we honestly had possessed skills like these before, then who’s to say that we would’ve ended up incarcerated?

We really believe in this program and the change it can make in people. We want to thank everyone in PEP for making all these changes possible. We love you all and thank you. God bless.

Daniel M. (a.k.a. “Pumba”)


“No matter how many bricks people throw at you,

you keep striving and using those bricks to build a strong foundation.”

~ Connie Deleon

When my mother shared that quote with me, I was going through a lot of things. I was having issues with some negative people who kept telling me I wouldn’t amount to anything. Hearing her say that to me made a lot of sense. No matter what I go though in life or what people say, she was saying don’t give up, keep striving and stay focused.

The quote is/was inspirational to me because my mom was right. I shouldn’t let anyone’s thoughts determine how I feel or where I go in life. It has changed the way I think because instead of it being negative, I look at it for the positives. I refuse to let it be discouraging, and I encourage myself to strive for excellence no matter what anyone thinks or says about me.

That quote has helped me grow in many ways, and it has made me a humble man. It has taught me how to be patient and appreciate what life has in store for me. I’m grateful for the things that I do have: my beautiful kids, my fiancée, my parents and my brothers. Mainly it has taught me that in order to be successful in life, I need a strong foundation based on good morals and principles such as love, integrity, servant-leadership, execution, excellence, accountability and wise stewardship, and that’s exactly why I joined PEP.

Cipriano N. (a.k.a. “Sippy Cup”)