Monday, October 7, 2019

Today as we got into the classroom, we picked up our badges and went to our assigned seats. Everybody was so eager to yell “To the back off the room!” as we kicked class off. Our fearless emcee started dancing, and then when he got to the front, he told all of the guys in the fourth row to go to the back of the room. As they danced their way to the front of the room, our Living in the Village teachers had to go back to dance their way up. We are learning Chapters Six, Seven and Eight from our Living In The Village book. Bruce T. and Eli R. always do a great job of teaching the class, and they always make it very entertaining. They encourage us to go out and rebuild our credit because it will benefit us in the future when we try to get a house or a car. Today we covered a lot, and some of us still have to come back for the second half for Toastmasters, but it does feel great that we are not stuck in the cell like we have been for the past two weeks.

PEP gives us a lot to look forward to, and we are always learning something new that will greatly benefit us in the future. We are so blessed to be in this program, and we are so thankful for this opportunity. What other kind of place would allow us to learn business and financial literacy while we are incarcerated? Thank God for another day and thank God for PEP.

Alejandro C. (a.k.a. “Little Pawn”)

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Today we all knew it was time to go back to work in the PEP room, and we sure were all anxious to be back in the classroom today. We all had enough time to study because we hadn’t been to class in the past two weeks, and we all knew what we needed to study. We had a continuation of our Living in the Village class today. Bruce T. and Eli R. have been giving us a lot of valuable information about credit building and credit repair. We have learned how important a FICO score is and how much it can help you in the long run – for example, they explained ways to increase your credit score by 100 points (and not just by paying someone else to do it for you).

We learned that 35% of your FICO score comes from paying bills on time. So if you set up an automatic payment plan so that your credit card pays your bills on a schedule, your FICO score can go up an additional 30%. You then have to pay the credit card as soon as possible from your checking account so you won’t pass the 21-day mark, when you also have to pay the interest. Bruce T. said the best credit card that doesn’t charge additional fees was a Capital One card. We learned about some debt collections laws that a lot of us weren’t aware of, as well as a bunch of clean credit tips too. We need to be smart with our money and do the right thing with it. A lot of valuable information was shared with us on this great day.

Ricardo C. (a.k.a. “Slow Poke Rodriguez”)

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Today we were taught entrepreneurship by Scott H. The whole class really enjoyed the way he got us to interact during the slideshow presentation. He used to come down here when we were in Phase One and give us his insights when we were going through Authentic Manhood.

The test we took was pretty challenging, but we did really well overall. We didn’t do as well on the pop quiz, but we will be able to bounce back from it next week. We also got back our thank you cards to correct if we messed up, but they also came with homework for messing them up. The Business Plan team did a few presentations and also gave us some assignments that are due in two weeks. They explained that these assignments will be really important to our business plans, and that we need to take the time to sit down and put it all together.

After that, we had “Issues and Tissues,” where we have a chance to get test answers marked wrong overturned in our favor. It went well, and we all got points for a question that Carl B. said could be right and wrong. That one question caused some of our grades to become passing grades. Then we dismissed class and were told to always be prepared to get tested on anything that is handed out to us. They really made it clear that we have to “stay ready to keep from getting ready.” PEP is a really good and challenging program, and it’s making us better as we continue to be a part of it.

Joe C. (a.k.a. “Lil Tinc”)

Thursday, October 10, 2019

PEP is a true brotherhood; we have really bonded over the past few months. Our brotherhood is both unique and polished. Today, the first thing we did was to pray and thank God because without Him nothing would be possible – just keep faith in the Lord, and everything will come to you, slowly but surely. We gathered around a table and read Chapters Seven and Eight from our Living in the Village book and discussed it openly as a group. We were able to fill out the workbook as we went along with the discussion, and after we were done filling in the blanks, we moved on to the next thing on our list. We then opened our Entrepreneurship textbooks and started to read over Chapter Five. We were able to make flashcards from the chapter using the vocabulary words and even important lists that were in the book. Flashcards have been really beneficial to our grades and study habits.

Then we took the practice test from the Entrepreneurship book, and we all passed it. Before we ended our group, we had a mock Toastmasters session. Every one of us is nervous about this because you have to speak in front of others within certain time limitations and hit certain goals throughout your speech.Then we ended the group the same way we started: in prayer. We accomplished a lot today but still had fun doing so. This was just another great day in PEP.

Joseph C. (a.k.a. “Sloth”)


“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

George Bernard Shaw

At first this quote could easily be overlooked, but if you were to take the time to sit and think about it, it could be life-altering. Many people go through life thinking they would be okay if they could just find themselves. However, what they really should be focusing on is creating themselves. When you look at people who have made an impact in this world, none of them are remembered for “finding themselves.” They were remembered because they were able to overcome adversity and inspire the people who followed them in the process.

The ability to lead and give hope to others is a very powerful weapon. We should be eager to do what so many past leaders were able to do in this world. If we show others “as long as there is a will, there is a way,” then we should be able to achieve what may seem impossible. Martin Luther King Jr. was able to break down barriers and change stereotypes just by using words. He took all the necessary steps do this and eventually the dream he had came true. By being able to create himself, he was able to shape a better world. Many of us aspire to be like this, but we have to look deeper if we want to achieve what we have set for ourselves. Thanks to PEP and other like-minded people, the stars and the moon are no longer unreachable. Nothing is impossible, so don’t let anyone tell you what you know you are capable of.

Christian C. (a.k.a. “Rita”)