Cleveland Summer 2022 Weekly Journals
Monday, May 2, 2022
First off, Peatree (sweet name, see below) is a character from the movie, “The Land before Time”: ‒ “To the great valley”!
We have all learned so much from this program; from business start-up to public speaking, we are all improving our skill sets. It is truly awesome to be a part of something positive, that is teaching good values, principles, and ethics. It’s just like we are in a true business setting. Today we were able to get with our business teams in class and work on our pitches for the business competition. One by one the teams had to get up in front of the class and make their pitches. This helps us get comfortable speaking in public which for most of us, we are still a work in progress. This is a team building exercise which is meant to get us used to working with a variety of personalities and not to be so tense or look so stiff while speaking. We are learning to loosen up a bit and be humble because let’s face it; in any job, would it be considered normal to be aggressively snappy or ill-mannered which triggers conflict? No, it would not.
We learn in prison to take advantage of the opportunities we are given, and, in this program, we are learning all day long about life, business, and what would be the best move we could make next to be proactive and not reactive! Be a better you, not just in here but when you’re at home as well!
May Yahweh bless you. Thank you and have a wonderful day! Amen.
Daniel S. (a.k.a. “Peatree”)
Tuesday, May 3, 2022
Today was another inspiring, rewarding day for all PEP participants. Each day we are assigned to work on various parts of the curriculum. Today was set aside for us to focus on a public speaking course called Toastmasters where all participants come together to form a professional setting. Ten participants chosen days before, will speak about a topic of their preference. All speeches should be thoughtfully prepared with an opening, body, and conclusion. A panel of individual are established to maintain a professional setting to evaluate each speaker’s performance. All the speakers did wonderfully well. Our journey has been challenging, but the servant leaders and Executive volunteers have helped us in a tremendous way.
We have this saying about moving with the cheese which means that sometime changes will be made in life that will require us to adapt quickly. If you can’t adapt to change and move with the cheese, then you will be left behind. And so, we finished the first session of Toastmasters and went to lunch thinking we will be doing a second set of Toastmasters for the following half of the day, but to our surprise, our cheese was moved! Instead of doing Toastmasters, our afternoon assignment was to work on and perfect our pitches for the business competition for the Executives. As the class of summer’22, we do everything without complaining and move with the cheese! That’s a win for everybody!
Shaun T. (a.k.a. “Big Boi”)
Wednesday, May 4, 2022
Today we practiced our final pitches all day long. It consisted of getting in front of the classroom and having our classmates listen. We are all grateful for that little extra push from our Servant Leaders because now, there is a significant difference when each group gets up in front of the class and does their pitch. We are all getting increasingly comfortable. We ran our pitches by four of the Servant Leaders that graded us on our opening, content, closure, and presentation style. They were very observant and critical when it came to grading us on our pitches which is completely understandable because they are preparing us for the big day (being in front of the real live Executives!) It was surprising to us when the servant leaders had questions for us, but it was cool because it felt like the real deal. We are thankful for their advice, considering that they have already been through all of this before.
That was our day. Perfect practice makes perfect pitches.
Joshua U. (a.k.a. “Crusty the Clown”)
Thursday, May 5, 2022
With the class ending, we are all excited to see what’s next. Since the first day of class, we were all nervous and eager to see what was in store. When everything was presented to us, we were a little bit overwhelmed.
The first day of Toastmasters was a little nerve racking. Seeing the Servant Leaders who got up there and gave us a demonstration of how it should go was cool, that was, until we all had to do it for ourselves. Looking back and thinking of how far we have come is truly inspiring. Things can only get better from here on out. We are halfway done with Toastmasters, and we have all come out of our shell and grown as a team. Some of us couldn’t get in front of the class and speak and now, we are all eager to give a speech. This class has given us that extra confidence we needed to push past our own barriers.
It has been fun to learn from each other in this class and get to look at life from a unique perspective. PEP’s Ten Driving Values play a big part in our personal development, and we are all taking steps in implementing them into our lives.
It’s never a dull moment in the PEP classroom. There is always something to do and always a new book to read. We have completed two books that have been extremely helpful in our character development and helped us become better entrepreneurs. We are all excited to see what’s next and to see what else PEP can help us change about our broken selves.
Andrew V. (a.k.a. “Eddie Guerro”)
Friday, May 6, 2022
Today was a unique Friday experience with a full classroom instruction instead of study hall. We are overwhelmed with joy for this rare Friday opportunity! Not to squander this special day, we watched feedback from the Executive volunteers. We learned transformational marketing tips which will flow directly into our business plan and promotional strategies. Even at this advanced stage of our team competition we are learning from the experience of “our” professional volunteers, and many of our plans are looking polished‒especially if compared to where they started.
At this point nobody can deny the speeches being given in Toastmasters are not only improving but taking on new and more complex subject matter. This is highly encouraging because the comfort in front of an audience will bleed over into our business competition pitches. The clock is ticking down until our teams get to face off in front of the Executives and show the culmination of PEP’s effort in our lives. The guys are not shy about the confidence they have in their teams.
Cheers to the end of another wonderful week!
Paul S. (a.k.a. “Arnold Schwarzenegger”)
“There is nothing so elastic as the human mind. Like imprisoned steam, the more it is pressed the more it rises to resist the pressure. The more we are obliged to do, the more we are able to accomplish.”
“When a man has not a good reason for doing a thing, he has one good reason for letting it alone.”
“Give me a positive character, with a positive faith, positive opinions, and positive actions, though frequently in error, rather than a negative character, with a doubting faith, wavering opinions, undecided actions, and faintness of heart. Something is better than nothing.”
Monday, April 25, 2022
In the morning portion of today’s class, we went over our financials with Gary T. who was truly knowledgeable. We are grateful to have the opportunity to learn about financial things and for some, financials are our favorite part about the class. It is important to know what is going on in your business. For example, keeping up with your inventory can be an indicator of everything going as you had planned or if something has gone wrong. It could also indicate if it is time for your business to expand.
In the afternoon portion, after pray-in, we did praise reports; classmates who see other classmates employing one of the Ten Driving Values can give them a praise in front of the whole class. After that, we went over a PowerPoint on what it means to exemplify Wise Stewardship which is one of the Ten Driving Values. After that we broke into groups and each group had to produce a skit on what it means to be a Wise Steward. There were funny and innovative skits that our fellow classmates produced. We are moving closer and closer to our goal of becoming true leaders.
Jordon C. (a.k.a. “Sour Patch Kid”)
Tuesday, April 26, 2022
Good day! We woke up this morning to a better, brighter existence than that of yesterday’s past. We started the day in a unit serves breakfast at about 6:30a.m., not 3:00a.m. Today is the day, truly, of salvation. We show up to class promptly at 8:30a.m. expectantly awaiting the start of Toastmasters. The opportunity to sharpen our speaking skills is crucial toward our social development. We set up the room in preparation of the big event. Toastmasters proceeds and we begin the session of “give and take.” Some days are a challenge when dealing with over fifty personalities and we display tremendous courage and perseverance in pushing through the morning filled with opportunities to develop character. We accomplished a closer sense of brotherhood as we in loving kindness, continued through Toastmasters altogether growing at different scales. We pushed through the morning in one accord, headed toward lunch as we broke for a brief intermission.
Maintaining an attitude of thankfulness in fulfillment of Servant-Leader Mentality; we got through all our speakers without a hitch. The growth is evident today compared to our arrival to the program. We most are moving closer to our goals daily. Each new day brings a new set of beginnings. We are truly and immensely blessed to have had an opportunity for a new reinvigorated lifestyle. We have embraced PEP’s core principles as we “do” and “gain” knowledge which translates into wisdom, all praise and glory to the Most High God, King of the Universe!
Kenneth H. (a.k.a. “Post Malone”)
Wednesday, April 27, 2022
Today was an exciting day in class. It started right before we walked into the classroom. As we came out of the dorms and went to the PEP class area, we could feel the vibrations of the music being played. Then came the sound of the music! We could feel the love and excitement instantly!
Once everyone arrived and we prayed-in, we took our final test on the True North book. This is the second book we have completed since we began this class; and although we were happy that we were through with the book, we felt a sadness come upon us because it marked another step toward graduation. In fact, one of the brothers, Andrew, shed some tears but he was comforted and told that life will still go on.
We then gathered into our business groups so that we could go to the computer lab to work on our business plans. It felt good to utilize our soft skills. For some, we haven’t used a computer in over a decade or two! We are blessed with brand new computers too, of which we are all grateful‒Thank you PEP! We are accomplishing so much in such a brief time. With every day in PEP, we are closer to our goals and another day closer to getting out.
Michael R. (a.k.a. “Buffalo Bill”)
Thursday, April 28, 2022
Today in our Toastmasters sessions, we were able to hear a couple of our brothers speaking about their life stories. There were stories that were a little sad, and some that were happy. There were stories that were funny. Our brother Michael is good at making an audience laugh while he is telling his story. We all get to know one another better listening to each other’s speeches, and we become closer while we are participating in these Toastmasters sessions. This is one of everyone’s favorite things about our class.
It seems that every day we are learning something new. We are all growing stronger not only intellectually, but also spiritually. We are becoming a tight-knit brotherhood. A smart man learns from his mistakes, and that may be true enough; but PEP teaches that a wise man is one who learns from other people’s mistakes as well.
And so, with every day that passes we are moving just that much closer to our goals that we have set for ourselves and toward the goals and visions that we have for what we would like to accomplish for our loved ones too. We know that there may be challenges ahead, but now we have been given the tools to meet those challenges through PEP; and we know that stopping is simply not an option. Thank you everyone for your support.
Marqus S. (a.k.a. “T.I.”)
Friday, April 29, 2022
It’s a blessing to wake up and to know that we are all one day closer to going home, and for that we are very thankful. Today we got up and sat in the dayroom where we had some last-minute studying to do for a test that we are having in class.
In the first half of class, we had our Toastmasters session where we had to stand in front of the class and speak publicly and tell our stories. These stories are usually about different things which have happened in our life, and this is making us into a better public speaker and will eventually help us when we are trying to get a job.
The second half of the day, we came back to class and had to take the test and then we went to the computer lab, and we practiced our pitches for our businesses which we will be pitching in front of the Executives (business volunteers who help our class).
PEP has been helpful, teaching us a lot about business and has taught us how to be better men, better parents, and better husbands. We are all very thankful for this program and for having the opportunity to take these classes and this also includes the ones available to us in the future as well. We know that with dedication and application; things will keep getting better and better for us and for our families. Thank you and may God bless us all.
Michael S. (a.k.a. “Mister-T.”)
“Men are but children, too, though they have gray hairs; they are only of a larger size.”
“It is not the number of books you read, nor the variety of sermons you hear, nor the amount of religious conversation in which you mix, but it is the frequency and earnestness with which you meditate on these things until the truth in them becomes your own and part of your being, that ensures your growth.”
“Show me the man you honor, and I will know what kind of a man you are, for it shows me what your ideal of manhood is, and what kind of a man you long to be.”
Monday, April 11, 2022
A blessed day starts with most of us waking up with a purpose. We gathered in our day rooms, quizzing each other on the infamous Entrepreneurship tests (only two more left). Not arriving to class until after 9:00am gave an extra half an hour of study time which is the only reason why some of us passed the test. PEP has a way of motivating us when we fall short of passing the test. That motivation prepares us for the next test. A lesson on top of a lesson in time management as we get to spend time writing next week’s bullet points as a homework assignment.
We must always be aware of how we invest our time. Sometimes we may find ourselves thinking PEP keeps us too busy, and then we get more to do in the form of a journal entry assignment! When we see this as the privilege that it truly is, it becomes an honor to share our day as a journal entry.
After our test today, we had a pray-out for another PEP brother, Mark B. The pray-out reveals just how deeply we have affected the people around us. We hear things from each other that would seem awkward on any other occasion such as: “I’m going to miss you bro” or,” I love you bro.” PEP teaches us to laugh at each other and not take things so seriously. If a gentle response turns away wrath, how much more of a positive effect could a fun name have? Don’t just invest in yourself, let’s invest in each other, a three second smile with a gentle greeting cost nothing and it lasts a lifetime! We’re worth it!
Corey L. (a.k.a. “Tag Team”)
Tuesday, April 12, 2022
In this journey we are put under immense pressure. The pressure of tests, homework and living up to PEP standards. We are told that it is for our betterment, but how can we really understand the purpose of the pressure put upon us while we are copying a 29-page book word for word, while still having to study for multiple tests, and other program requirements? How many times has it crossed our minds to just quit when the thought, “Maybe PEP is not for me,” comes into our minds and we want to act on it?
But, think about a lump of coal, deep within the belly of our earth. The coal is under so much pressure and for massive amounts of time. It remains in the darkness pondering the plan of its creator wondering why it must have such a great amount of pressure and time exerted on his life. It does not understand that for it to become what it was meant to be, it must be put through the crucible of testing. This testing is meant to wick away all the unnecessary impurities in its life, and though the coal may have weighed five pounds at first, by the time he is ready, the pressure of his testing has caused it to shed four pounds of its original weight. The pressure causes a discarding of what is not needed. The pressure applied with the right mind set causes this lump of coal to become a valuable resource. We are like the coal, and the pressure of PEP causes us to become diamonds. We, as diamonds, will never forget the pressure and time it took us to get to where we are now, and at the very end we have reason to thank our Creator for keeping us in a place of pressure, because without it we would never reach our full potential.
Arash M. (a.k.a. “Kumar”)
Wednesday, April 13, 2022
Today was a wonderful day! We had an awesome Toastmasters session. We all have learned the meaning of a word we have heard before, but not known its true definition. The word was malevolent: which means evil or to rise in anger. We have all been the victims of malevolent character. However, through the Prison Entrepreneur Programs like Toastmasters and Better Man, we no longer have to react malevolently in situations that would usually get the latter. It is truly a gift to participate in Toastmasters. We can see the growth daily in all the individuals participating in the class with us.
We are at the end of our journey, and we are learning even more now than when we first started. A classic example of how you never stop learning: even in quitting, you will learn a lesson! The road to success is much harder than people think, but if we put in the work, the goal can be reached. We find that our mission is better obtained together than alone. We are a team, and we are leading each other out of the darkness and into the light of a better life while utilizing the Ten Driving Values. These values are Love, Innovation, Fun, Excellence, Integrity, Servant Leader Mentality, Accountability, “Fresh Start” outlook, Execution, and Wise Stewardship and with these values in place, there are no goals that will be unobtainable! Thank you and God Bless.
Cicero L. (a.k.a. “Red”)
Thursday, April 14, 2022
Let’s start off this entry by saying we are grateful to God for allowing us to wake up this morning. To have the opportunity to spend another day above ground is a blessed day. We often take life for granted. We find ourselves living for the moment, instead of the future.
For those of us who have children, we need to understand the importance of the fact that they will be on their own someday. They won’t be able to call their parents and hear the soothing words of our voices because our time on earth is limited. We don’t live forever. The choices we make not only affect us, but our children. Our actions effect everyone around us. Actions come with a rippling effect. Have you ever thrown a rock into the water and seen the ripple it creates as it gets bigger and bigger? It’s the same with our actions. Let your family know that you love them, and that there isn’t anything you wouldn’t do for them. You never know when that day might come that you won’t be able to hear their voice. Don’t have regrets because you let your pride stand in the way. We must make smarter choices in life, as well; become better men, sons, brothers, husbands, and fathers.
Wasting away in prison is not how we should be remembered. Therefore, we should set goals in life and become men we know we can be. When we feel like we are at the end of our rope, tie a knot and hang on. God won’t put us through anything we can’t handle. God Bless.
William M. (a.k.a. “Fog Horn Leg Horn”)
Friday, April 15, 2022
Yesterday morning we participated in Toastmasters. There were ten speakers and they all have shown vast improvement over the previous speeches. Halfway through the class we paused for count-time. Everybody filed out into the hallway for ten minutes. Then it was back into the classroom to finish our Toastmasters session. When we completed our session, we set the classroom back up for the afternoon class. Shortly after that, we prayed-out and everyone returned to their pods. We learned many interesting things from the various speeches during this morning’s sessions.
In the afternoon, we immediately took a test over chapters two and three in our Living in a Village workbooks. The servant leaders also checked to make sure we had completed our homework over chapters four and five.
After that, two servant leaders led the class in a PowerPoint presentation going over chapters four and five in detail. When we were finished with this, we had time to go over the scores that everyone had made on the test and anybody who had made 100% on the test had to do a victory dance from the back of the room, down the aisle to the front of the room. There were almost forty people dancing! We then prayed-out and left for the day as we were looking forward to the three-day Easter weekend. So, it’s another week down, and six more to go until graduation!
Ryan M. (a.k.a. “Lurch”)
“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”
“Borrow trouble for yourself, if that’s your nature, but don’t lend it to your neighbors.”
“If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mouse-trap than his neighbor, though he builds his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.”
-Generally attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, also claimed by Elbert Hubbard
Monday, April 4, 2022
Today’s class was exceptionally good. We were able to pray three people out and this is the sort of thing that gives us hope and shows us what we can look forward to when it’s our turn to leave. Every time we start by praying and thanking God for everything, He is doing for us and for the opportunity to be here. By putting our heart into this program, we can all become success stories, and this is the blessing that PEP gives us for our future.
Coming together on a common ground while sharing this entrepreneurial knowledge in such a diversity of cultures, shows us that we can all be on the same page and work together for a collective good. There are those who have great ideas and have real potential to change the world with their business ideas and serve their communities.
We are always moving forward to achieve our goals. We are also always striving to become better men, which is something we must work on every day, and this is a shared vision with all our PEP brothers. God bless PEP!
Michael H. (a.k.a. “Murray”)
Tuesday, April 5, 2022
Today was a good day; the first half of the class we all participated in the Toastmasters segment of the course. Toastmasters is all about improving our public speaking skills within a professional environment. It has been a remarkably interesting class for all of us. Some of us are more skilled in this area than others, but at the end of the day we are all making improvements and striving to become the best version of ourselves as possible. To witness these improvements in all our fellow classmates has been truly inspiring.
Today’s second half of class we all sat with our business competition groups and worked as a team to develop our next business pitch. These will include the CEOs and CFOs of each team talking about their businesses and the finances necessary to create and operate them. This business competition course helps us develop and strengthen our team building skills while showing us how to work past all our differences to achieve the task at hand. One step at a time we are getting closer to perfecting our pitches. This makes one confident that our entire class will be prepared to use these skills beyond these walls!
Given the circumstances; our class has been taking major steps forward while getting our work completed and working toward enlightening our future. The change in the demeanor of our entire class has been tremendous and leaves us with the wonder of what tomorrow will bring; but today was indeed, a good day!
Merrick I. (a.k.a. “Macklemore”)
Wednesday, April 6, 2022
It was a blessed day today in the PEP classroom, just like it is every day. We always start our days opening with prayer and ending with prayer. This allows all our brothers a chance to give thanks and dedicate our day to the LORD. This is our way of showing our gratitude for another new day and new opportunities.
Today we came back in and took a test on chapters 4 and 5 in our “True North” book. These two chapters cover knowing your authentic self and practicing your values and principles. In gaining a clear awareness of who we are, we must understand our values and the principles that guide us in our leadership abilities. It is through these classes every day in PEP that we are all learning what our weaknesses and our strengths are as we become better leaders in life.
Once we were all finished with our tests, we did a pray-out for one of our brothers in PEP who is going home. We recorded video clips of our brothers giving encouraging words of support and blessings in the pray-out. We, as brothers in PEP are all united together, so these pray-out events are a great expression of our support for each other.
The class then split up into our chosen business group teams to practice our financial pitches. We will have to present our business pitches in a couple of days and so we spent the remainder of the class working on them. Class has been very educational and been beneficial in teaching us new ways to be a greater success in life.
Michael J. (a.k.a. “Banana Split”)
Thursday, April 7, 2022
First off, we should be thanking God for another blessed day and for the people and opportunities He blesses us with along the way. Today we started the morning off with Toastmasters which is one of our favorite classes! It really helps us all to know one another better. For most of us this is our third or fourth speech. There has been a dramatic increase in our public speaking skills and in our character development as well. Our PEP brothers have come a long way and should be congratulated and encouraged to keep up the excellent work!
The second half of the day well, let’s just say, it was very eventful with plentiful opportunities to exercise our discipline and check our dedication as we were met with a challenge at count time. There was an incident, but we got through it as a group and stuck together and prevailed. We prevailed not only with count time but with a test on our Living in a Village workbook as well. We may face challenges, but this is what we signed up for, so, let’s dig down deep and push through this because we are the class of summer”22 and that’s what we do! The sky is the limit, God bless y’all.
Marty J. (a.k.a. “Cartman”)
Friday, April 8, 2022
Today we learned more about ourselves and open new doors. Most importantly, we identified our past troubles and the things that have been slowing down our progress and bringing on anger and resentment. We have not forgotten the past, but we now know how to forgive the past. We forgive the past, make peace with it, and move forward. This is the freedom that removes all the weight from your shoulders and makes you ready to take on new challenges successfully without the fear of being a failure.
By coming out of our comfort zones and shedding the life that we used to lead, we are allowing ourselves to become better men. These are the qualities that we really want out of life, and we are looking to find them in this program.
Becoming an entrepreneur is the first step in this vision. Consenting to these changes in your life and in yourself, is the greatest step we can make which will help us achieve success. Therefore, one must encourage others to focus on the power of change, because it is the key to success in your future.
Zachary I. (a.k.a. “Joe Dirt”)
“Compliments of congratulations are always kindly taken, and cost nothing but pen, ink, and paper. I consider them as draughts upon good breeding, where the exchange is always greatly in favor of the drawer.”
– Philip Chesterfield
“Willingness to be taught what we do not know, is the sure pledge of growth both in knowledge and wisdom.”
– Hugh Blair
“No man, who continues to add something to the material, intellectual and moral well-being of the place in which he lives, is left long without proper reward.”
-Booker T. Washington
Monday, March 28, 2022
Another week started and all is well, thank you Lord! God is Good! We started the day on the right foot with a prayer, thanking Him for allowing us health, life, and the privilege of being a part of PEP.
The chapter 7 and 8 test was given and it was dealt with according to how well prepared we were to take the test. Some passed, and the homework gang is now doing their part. Now we are preparing for chapter 9 and 10. We are more than half the way through the Entrepreneur Study book, and we must really learn as much of this as we can from this opportunity; for when the day of our freedom arrives, we will put all we have learned to effective use. Some of this material we may never use, but who knows. We can never have too much knowledge, because with knowledge comes power and we must use this to show everyone that we have not lost our course, and that we have never lost our hope.
Two of our brothers have another chance at freedom and have made parole, as we all will someday. It is a beautiful thing to see this happen and to see everyone come together in harmony and pray in agreement as we wish the best for our departing brothers. May they find the perseverance to accomplish all their goals and never come back into the prison.
This place is not worth giving up our free lives for and we should share our experiences with our acquaintances and hopefully help them avoid the trouble and hardships we have been through. Lord willing, we can make a difference in someone else’s life. For now, we look forward to tomorrow and if we are blessed enough to live and learn for one more day, we will harvest the rewards of all the work we have put in. Stay strong PEP- we got this!
Jose C. (a.k.a. “Pico De Gallo”)
Tuesday, March 29, 2022
We show our gratitude by beginning every PEP class with a group prayer. Normally a volunteer will step forward to pray aloud and give thanks before the One who provides the opportunity for us to come together and better ourselves daily, Jesus Christ. Today, after our pray-in we sang happy birthday to a couple of our brothers and offered our appreciation for their special day. However, the singing came after the birthday boys had danced their way to the front of the room.
Our assignment for today was to complete lesson ten in our Better Man workbooks. Today’s theme was, “Bettering God’s world by being the type of father to our children, God has called us to be.” For many incarcerated men, the subject of parenting is an exceedingly difficult and it’s a challenge to overcome. We’ve had to watch our children grow up through photographs, letters, phone calls and visitations. It is the bad choices that we have made in the past which have put us where we are today, depriving us of our opportunity to be responsible parents. Each day that we wake up is another opportunity for us to get it right. As a group of brothers, we share a common goal to be better men today than we were yesterday. Perseverance will allow us to become the parents that we all desire to be for our children.
Brian C. (a.k.a. “Maverick”)
Wednesday, March 30, 2022
Today in PEP we took a test which covered the lessons from our True North books. The chapters we studied covered the qualities it takes to be a good leader. This is possible by encouraging others and pushing them to achieve their full potential to ensure their success.
We are learning to encourage and lift our brothers while pushing them to find their full potential. We all have different abilities which can be used to strengthen each other, as we help those who may be weak in some areas in which some of us may excel in. This is a fantastic opportunity for which we are all grateful, and a chance to learn how to better ourselves as we are determined to move forward right alongside of our fellow PEP brothers.
Every day PEP has helped move us closer to our goal of being better men and good leaders. We look forward to seeing how much more we can learn in the days to come.
Branaghan D. (a.k.a. “Chester Cheetah”)
Thursday, March 31, 2022
As always, we start and end the day with a prayer; this ensures that we start the day off well and end it well. This is just our way of showing that we are thankful for all we have and for this opportunity to better ourselves.
Today we were learning a lot as we were engaged in Toastmasters. This is helping us to become more proficient in public speaking. Through these exercises we are learning more about each other, and this helps us relate better to each other. We can learn from each other’s actions and mistakes.
We also went over “Living in a Village,” which is a book that is teaching us general financial terms and why it’s important that we learn more about our finances. We are learning how to be more proactive in having a financial plan. We have conversations with each other every day about the material we are going over, and these are helping us to better understand these lessons.
We were able to have a pray-out with our brother Justin who is going home in a few days. During this event, people spoke out about what he meant to them and to PEP, and to let him know that just because he is leaving, it does not mean he will be forgotten. We will still be here for him and so will PEP. Thank you.
Nathan G. (a.k.a. “Magic Mike”)
Friday, April 1, 2022
It was a blessed day in our PEP classroom with wisdom, gratitude, humility, and courage on display. To us brothers, it continues to be an end of the old and a start of something new.
We kicked off the day with Toastmasters where we are honing our public speaking abilities. This allows us to shake off the slang and adjust to speaking properly. It is amazing to see the courage everyone had doing speeches ranging between informative to entertaining with some being a little bit of both. This is an opportunity to pull back the layers and humble ourselves as we show who we really are. With this opportunity we are getting a step closer to becoming the man we all want to be. This left us the first half of the day with smiles and laughter and with the anticipation of what else was to come.
The second half of the day began with a pleasant surprise; another brother was going to get the opportunity to go home! We expressed our gratitude with a pray-out, but the surprises didn’t stop there! We were introduced to a book called, “Living in a Village” by Ryan Mack. Our knowledge about building our financial future is enhanced by this literature, which assists us while strengthening our community.
Yes, it was another blessed day here at PEP. God bless us all
Marcus G. (a.k.a. “Low Rider”)
“Every man has, at times, in his mind the ideal of what he should be but is not. In all men that seek to improve, it is better than the actual character. —No one is so satisfied with himself that he never wishes to be wiser, better, and more holy.”
“If any young man expects without faith, without thought, without study, without patient, persevering labor, in the midst of and in spite of discouragement, to attain anything in this world that is worth attaining, he will simply wake up, by-and-by, and find that he has been playing the part of a fool.”
“Honest good humor is the oil and wine of a merry meeting, and there is no jovial companionship equal to that where the jokes are rather small, and the laughter abundant.”
Monday, March 14, 2022
Today we learned how to do a revenue model. This is a basic model that shows the Total Sales minus Cost of Goods Sold which equals the Gross Profit. We have had an opportunity for serious growth in the past few weeks. We have also had a chance to see that change is possible if we want it badly enough, no matter what our past was like. We must strive to uphold the ten driving values of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program: Fresh-Start Outlook, Excellence, Love, Wise-Stewardship, Execution, Innovation, Integrity, Fun, Accountability, and Servant Leader Mentality. Putting these values into practice in our lives is an essential component in our growth.
Improving one’s life is not always easy, but through hard work and dedication, we are growing closer to our goal of success and making our lives what we would like them to be. We are overcoming our barriers and growing as men and as brothers. We are changing our mindset to learn a new way of thinking like entrepreneurs. PEP is giving us the necessary tools which allow us to make timely progress in become productive members of society once again, and we are learning to grow as men as well.
Justin A. (a.k.a. “Ralphie”)
Tuesday, March 15, 2022
Today was a rough patch for some of us, we were overcoming our darkest fears. A lot of us were confused on how to do the Economics of One Unit, but we live and learn. We employed execution every step of the way, and as brothers we fought to complete our mission. Today we have learned a valuable lesson because our cheese (Who Moved my Cheese) is continually being moved, we must “stay ready” instead of only “getting ready.” We have learned that courage is the key to success and sometimes you must think outside of the box and step out of your comfort zone. Life will push and pull you in directions you may not expect, so, be ready.
Now, we as brothers may have some flaws and our pride is one of them; pride is like a drug, and we can become addicted to it quickly. Sometimes our pride will push us away from the ones who care and love us dearly. We, must continually help each other move forward as we started in this together, so, will we finish this together.
No matter what happens; if our cheese is moved, we move with it! Why would we cry about who moved our cheese? We are warriors and our family, friends, wives, and children are the ones who look up to us. We challenge pain with love; if God can do it, then we can do it! We can do anything we put our mind to when there’s no can’t, won’t or stop in our vocabulary. We all want to be successful in everything we do, even if it means working harder with less sleep; we are to be an encouragement to one another as brothers. We strive for the best because PEP’s class summer’22 is not a joke to us, it’s our life and passion.
Mark B. (a.k.a. “Happy Feet”)
Wednesday, March 16, 2022
Today was an interesting day. We had a few discrepancies about some of the antics that go on in the classroom. There is always something to learn in every situation.
We had an opportunity to learn about EOU (Economics of One Unit) which is an especially important subject that will help us tremendously as individuals. The group seemed to take well to learning about the bookkeeping and the numbers portion of our business lessons. Class today was good and helpful for us all, although we had to overcome obstacles while helping each other understand the Economics of One Unit while performing the math. We were able to come together as a class and help each other become better equipped to perform the EOU processes thanks to the help of our peer educators. We are moving closer to our goal of understanding the structure of business and there’s hope that we can gain more knowledge and understanding soon.
DeVante B. (a.k.a. “Shanaynay”)
Thursday, March 17, 2022
We are here to gain understanding of what we genuinely want out of life, although not many of us may see it just yet. The simple fact that we are here really says a lot about us, nonetheless.
If you can believe that like minds attract like minds, then we can see that somewhere along our journey we set out with the right intentions, the right thoughts, and the vision of what we saw in our mind’s eye. It is within that state of mind and frame of mind that we attracted one another and created this environment, what we call PEP. We clearly want something better for ourselves and we are setting or learning to set the right attitude, to welcome in this vision. Although some may not see it yet, but just like a seed it incubates or germinates before it sees the light of day, before it grows and stands in awe and glory of the brightest of days ahead.
We are that seed which God sees and believes in us. The question is, do you believe in yourself long enough to see your vision come to fruition? We are all within this class connected in that same journey; we want to expand and grow to our fullest potential. We need to give it time to nourish and water the seed, which has been planted, and awaits God’s Glory
Danny G. (a.k.a. “Donkey”)
Friday, March 18, 2022
Friday, we went to a wonderful devotional class. This class is optional and it’s a wonderful experience in which we get to learn from videos on the Kingdom Man by Tony Evans. He teaches us biblical principles and how they apply to our lives. We broke into smaller groups and discussed what the current videos were teaching us, and how we can use what we have learned in our lives. We were also discussing how we can better ourselves by applying this knowledge of the teachings of Jesus.
In this week’s episode of Kingdom Man, we learned that once we accept Christ, He walks with us as we walk through this life. If we stay diligent, He will guide us into His plan for us in our life. It was revealed to us that through God, we can go further than we could on our own. It is our downfalls in this life which can create the opportunities that God may use to place us in places of power. This is teaching us that as Kingdom Men, we have grand things waiting for us.
We were also working on the Economics of One Unit which involves some math. This Friday they held a study group which we could go to if we wanted help with learning how to use math formulations. There were quite a few of us that went to that study group!
Ramon H. (a.k.a. “Steve –from Blue’s Clues”)
“Be patient in the little things. Learn to bear the every-day trials and annoyances of life quietly and calmly, and then, when unforeseen trouble or calamity comes, your strength will not forsake you.”
-W. S. Plumer
“A sound head, an honest heart, and a humble spirit are three best guides through time and to eternity. That man may safely venture on his way, who is guided that he cannot stray.”
– Walter Scott
“If a man speaks or acts with pure thought, happiness follows him like a shadow that never leaves him.”
Monday, March 7, 2022
This morning, like every morning, we pray-in. This is when someone begins to pray aloud with our heads bowed and eyes closed. Every now and then our minds drift off to memories of family members, with images of those loved ones that are still alive in our hearts and minds.
Afterward, we watched a video, which displays those of us “unlucky” enough to get caught by the media team on camera doing things which are amusing and things that are motivational.
Once we had finished with this we sat down and waited for the test. Some people had studied so much that a score of 100% would be inevitable. Some people intentionally missed a question or two to avoid being forced to dance down the aisle, which is the “reward” for those who have made 100% on their test and proven themselves exceedingly dedicated.
It’s understandable how it’s a necessity to be comfortable in front of crowds and how the act of public and dancing relates to it. Also, we can understand how that some of us may consider dancing to be fun, and that it could be described as essential in breaking us out of our comfort zone.
Chase S. (a.k.a. “Barrack Obama”)
Tuesday, March 8, 2022
Today after our pray-in, we began watching the Better Man video series which gives us greater insight into what could be waiting for us when we get home. After we watched these videos, we got into little groups and had in-depth discussions about what we had just watched. Sometimes these videos really hit home, and we get to see ourselves in a different light. These videos are helping us be better men for our families.
We had special guests today who came to talk with us. They were Executives who were here on a fact-finding mission and were doing one-on-one interviews with PEP participants. They were giving us encouragement and telling us not to give up on this program, and to do our best. They expressed their regret that they couldn’t be here more often, but we understood why that wasn’t possible. We all were wishing that we had more time to talk with them, however we were reassured that they would be back.
After they left, we when back into our groups and we put on little skits about making a fresh start in life by portraying the things that we would do once we are released and starting our lives over again. The skits were funny, but the main point was the assurance of knowing that we can do good things and do well.
Jordan S. (a.k.a. “Antoine Dodson”)
Wednesday, March 9, 2022
The first thing we did today was take a test on a book called “Who Moved My Cheese?” This book has an extremely useful message that could be helpful if applied to our lives. The moral of the story is that you must adapt to change and not stay stuck in our ways if you want to be successful in life. The book is short and easy to read so if you have a chance, you should check it out.
The next thing on our agenda was to go over the upcoming business pitches as a team and then decide what everyone’s job will be. The CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of our company will do the talking when we make our video pitches, but every team member plays a significant role.
We also received assignments that are going to be due next Wednesday. These assignments will cover our own personal business plans, which for some of us, happen to be the same one we will be presenting on camera with our teams. This is because our business plans were the ones chosen of the eighteen selected for the business plan competition. The people who did not get their business plan picked were given jobs such as CFO (Chief Financial Officer), CMO (Chief Marketing Officer), and COO (Chief Operations Officer). These people will still be working on their personal business plans throughout the class, but for now their focus should be on the group business competition. Today was a very productive and useful day.
John S. (a.k.a. “B-Rad”)
Thursday, March 10, 2022
Today, we we’re split into two groups. Both groups were following the same outlines provided by Toastmasters International, a professional and international organization which takes stage frightened individuals and turns them into competent public speakers and leadership role models.
Our first assignment titled, Icebreaker, which was a real awakening for our class. Our shells of pride, shyness, and our lack of confidence, low self-esteem, and stage freight all began to peel away as everyone introduced ourselves and diligently gave a brief history of their past and their upbringing. There was anticipation as brothers in each group were waiting to give their second speeches, and that’s because we have unearthed a precious jewel that we did not know we possessed. This was an awakening, allowing each of us to experience first-hand, the vision of the reality of the possibility of a brighter future and restored relationships.
As individuals of diverse backgrounds and levels of education, we are all striving for excellence in our lives. We are helping each other by evaluating each speaker which helps them understand and see where their strengths and weaknesses are. We slowly release the speaker from such clutch words such as: and, well, but, so, you know, ah um, and finally, the offensive, my baby mama. Our experience under the Toastmaster’s umbrella is like the ugly worm going into his cocoon for a period and then the unexpected happens; a beautiful individual (a better man) emerges from the slime of the cocoon. We are emerging as better father, husband, son, brother, grandfather, and businessman.
Jesse V. (a.k.a. “Twinkie Lover”)
Friday, March 11, 2022
Today we were able to come together as a group and had the opportunity to present our business sales pitch for the executives to review. As a team, we were able to assist one another in putting our two-minute pitches together which turned out to be fun.
The result of us coming together as CEO, CMO, COO and CFO’s is that we have all acquired a whole host of new knowledge that we might use to get the ball rolling in starting a successful new company. Moreover, what makes matters even better is that we are becoming more comfortable working together as a team and this is only the beginning.
The main thing that we were able to accomplish today was memorizing business pitches while being recorded. After the recording sessions, we were able to review and analyze our performances. We gave each other pointers on how to make our videos look more polished and professional. We moved toward our goals and overcame challenges today thanks to teamwork.
We then watched motivational speakers on a video. They were very inspiring and when class was over, we prayed together and went about the rest of our day with a good energy. We are all grateful to be members of the PEP family and we are looking forward to what is yet to come!
DeMario W. (a.k.a. “Stephen A.”)
“The underlying cause of all weakness and unhappiness in man has always been, and still is, weak habit-of-thought.”
– Horace Fletcher
“Happiness is not the end of life; character is.”
– H.W. Beecher
“True dignity is never gained by place, and never lost when honors are withdrawn.”
Monday, February 28, 2022
Today we started our day with a group prayer. We watched videos of our study groups, and of us goofing off and having fun. We had a class discussion on what it means to be a brother. We also talked about what it means to be truly responsible and to be accountable for one’s actions, and what responsibility means to us.
Later we watched the videos we made of our speeches about our business startup ideas and then we judged them to see if any of us would buy our products or other people’s products or services.
After we reviewed all the videos, some people received homework that was earned for failing the test today. The homework was to copy the Power Point Presentations for chapters 3 and 4. One thing we are taught in PEP is to build up our faith and to deal with our failures as we aspire to be more successful in life.
Finally, after we received our homework assignments for the next test, we watched a video covering what the next test will be about and our study guide information. After these videos we prayed for our families and asked for the strength to continue.
We were dismissed for the rest of the day. We can’t wait for tomorrow’s class to begin so that we can have more fun with dancing and finally get a chance to act like an actual human being once again!
Dillan M. (a.k.a. “TBA”)
Tuesday, March 1, 2022
Today we watched our business pitches that we recorded, and we were able to see what our business concepts looked like from an unfamiliar perspective. Doing these recording is an example of the innovative ideas which have been brought into the core curriculum by the administrative leadership and PEP staff. If the Executives (professional people who are in the business world that help our PEP classes) can’t come to us, then we will go to them via video. At PEP we may have slowed down due to the COVID-19 restrictions, but one thing is for sure, we have never stopped.
There was another critical issue that we were able to take care of today, and that was a chance to acknowledge all the brothers who have a birthday in March. This is something that we do as a community to come together and celebrate this special day for these brothers. We have the birthday boys go to the back-of-the-room and then the DJ plays something to get the whole place jumping, and each birthday boy dances down the aisle to the front where they are presented with an official PEP Birthday Certificate and a pencil. Then, we all sing Happy Birthday which is fun (to say the least)! All of this is done for one simple reason; to let the birthday boys know that we love them, and that we genuinely care about our brothers. This is what we find the foundation of PEP has been built around, accepting each other as a family.
Darius M. (a.k.a. “Jerod White Sr.”)
Wednesday, March 2, 2022
What we have learned in PEP is that teamwork is an essential part of the effort as we strive to achieve our goals. One could do life by themselves, but for how long? PEP teaches us that as a people, we are much stronger when we are united together.
Also, we have learned how to start a business and what it takes to be successful in running that business then making it grow. This is exciting information for those of us who plan to start a business after we are released. Not only have we learned a lot about business, but PEP has challenged us to be men full of integrity and to change our negative thinking to positive.
We have been taught how to speak to people according to the moment and situation and not just being grammatically correct with an impressive vocabulary, but with a confidence and passion of a qualified leader. PEP has helped us harness our fears of talking with other people.
We can finally feel like somebody now, as we have the courage to spread the knowledge PEP has given us, to our friends and our families and to give back to our communities and we can show them that life is truly something worth living. PEP has helped us to understand our purpose, and for that we are forever grateful.
Andre P. (a.k.a. “Switowski”)
Thursday, March 3, 2022
At Thursday’s Toastmasters meeting we turned a corner and things really started to make sense. All the ceremony and traditional formality are starting to become second nature. We breezed through the remaining Ice Breaker speeches, and in the processes, we had first-hand peeks into the lives of our brothers. Everyone had the opportunity to reflect on what “striving for excellence” means to them. We were taken aback by the variety of responses. The Toastmasters program is going to be highly beneficial despite the initial anxiety of speaking in front of our peers. We are all looking forward to seeing our brothers improve and excel as the program continues.
Thursday was also the first meeting of the newly minted CEOs of the business competition. CEOs from previous classes took the time to share their experiences, and provided helpful pointers based on their interactions with the executives. Our in-prison manager led the discussion and pledged assistance for market research and other outside resources for our business plan. It is infinitely reassuring to know the PEP staff has our backs and are tuned-in to our needs. Most of us have not experienced this type of support while we have been in prison. As another successful week has passed in PEP, we are looking forward to a short weekend break followed by new challenges on Monday.
Paul S. (a.k.a. “Arnold Schwarzenegger”)
Friday, March 4, 2022
Congratulations to the eighteen individuals whose businesses were picked on Wednesday. There is no better way to get ready for success in the free world than to be around like-minded men who have a deep desire to succeed. Whether that be to restore broken relationships or get that dream job, we all want to succeed, one way or another. Summer ’22, this is only the beginning. Prepare for glory!
Today we got our weekly dose of Toastmasters. It is interesting to listening to everybody’s story. So many of us come from the same background. A lot of us grew up in a different decade but we share the fact that we were raised in toxic situations. It is a beautiful thing we all have each other in this difficult journey called life. We may not have had it all figured out when we were in the world and we may never have it totally figured out, but it’s a good feeling knowing you have an army of brothers willing to go above and beyond to make sure you succeed. The possibilities are endless when you put forth the effort. Thank you, summer, ‘22.
Gaven S. (a.k.a. “Carlton”)
“The superior man will watch over himself when he is alone. He examines his heart that there may be nothing wrong there, and that he may have no cause of dissatisfaction with himself.”
“To listen well, is as powerful a means of influence as to talk well and is as essential to all true conversation. A single conversation across the table with a wise man is worth a month’s study in books.”
– Chinese Proverb
“Prepare yourself for the world as the athletes used to do for their exercise; oil your mind and your manners, to give them the necessary suppleness and flexibility; strength alone will not do.”
Monday, February 21, 2022
The morning started off with words that were so inspirational and powerful, that it made the positive energy pulsate through the air. We are building on one of the most important of our 10 driving values- Execution! We can be grateful for having these two great hosts who are making our program interesting.
Everyone was charged up and ready for Toastmasters. We love Toastmasters because we get to watch each other build up our self-confidence through public speaking and the competitive spirit that this portion of the class provides. Today’s Toastmaster’s session was extra special because we spoke about ourselves. This brought us an opportunity to learn about our teammates, especially their experiences. Toastmaster’s word of the day was “grateful,” and our challenge was to incorporate this word into our speech. We are to give our speeches without the use of slang, or use filler words like, such as, ah or um, nor any other crutches such as slang. We are being evaluated for our voice projection and our posture. It is amazing to see the transformations and hidden talents in our teammates.
The second half of the day was spent laying the groundwork for business. We reviewed a chapter on leadership and start-ups out of our textbooks. Two of our peer educators lead the class and decided to go over this chapter to make sure that no one was left behind. Learning these types of lessons will help us develop our abilities to be assets to this nation which is always in the forefront of our minds.
Irving L. (a.k.a. “Kevin Hart”)
Tuesday, February 22, 2022
Today we held our second Toastmasters meeting, and it went very well. Toastmasters is a public speaking course which is structured and designed to allow the participants to get out of their shell and develop their ability to speak publicly without becoming nervous. We began this session with a prayer and by reciting our Skills for Life chant and then it was time to open up and explain team member’s responsibilities.
There were ten people chosen to give their Ice Breaker speeches. There were some very emotional moments as this is an opportunity which allows people to tell their life stories. Sometimes, this includes things that they may have had bottled up on the inside which they have never shared before because of not trusting anyone with such deep memories. Many may have had childhood traumas or things in their former life that they are reluctant to share which can be difficult to voice in such a setting.
The brotherhood that we have developed here is unique. This is truly an opportunity which is one-of-a-kind and something that most of have never had the occasion to be a part of, and we are so very thankful to be afforded this experience of PEP.
Mack H. (a.k.a. “Shorty” from Scary Movie)
Wednesday, February 23, 2022
Today we had an opportunity to analyze our past and use it as a guide to help us understand ourselves and make a stable plan for our future. Speaking for our classmates, we are all extremely grateful for the opportunity to participate in this program and to have the chance of being able to obtain this type of business information. Today was also an exercise in discipline, humility, and integrity, of which everyone out there, not just us inmates, could benefit from.
With each day that passes while in this program, we are driven much closer to our goal of becoming better husbands, fathers, and sons. Not only are we becoming productive citizens again, but we are also becoming entrepreneurs. This program is providing the mental stimulation which is breaking us out of our shells; and not only that, but it’s changing our way of “stinking thinking” and replace it with a new way to overcome our obstacles by utilizing determination and the love we have for our families and friends. This is helping us to focus, and it drives our abilities as we continue to conquer our difficulties. This is also giving us the ambition to make our dreams a reality.
Tyler C. (a.k.a. “Chris Farley”)
Thursday, February 24, 2022
Today was an interesting day. We prayed in unity, for those in and out of our circle. After our prayer, we separated into two different sections and began doing our Toastmasters. Many of us are new to Toastmasters, but we’re all grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of it and express ourselves, even if we don’t want to admit it. It’s therapeutic and helps us to free the unneeded baggage in our lives.
We also watched a video hosted by our family liaisons. They broke the ice and had everyone laughing with their skit, but it was also on revelation and a strong message too, as far as communication goes. We must do the groundwork and foot work, before we can build a foundation, and it all starts with communication.
With every entry into the PEP classroom doors, we are getting closer to our goals as we attain knowledge and strength with every session. We are brothers who have fun, but we also hold each other accountable for things we do for many reasons. We learn to be accountable for our own actions, like real men are supposed to do. Accountability takes courage that most people don’t care to own. We also have fun names that most of us don’t care to own, but it’s all part of the experience.
LaDerick B. (a.k.a. “Jangle Lang”)
Friday, February 25, 2022
Wow what a day…better still, what a week! We have covered so much ground in such a small amount of time. We have received our assigned seats, but they are subject to change only because moving around allows us to get to know more than just the guys right next to us. We also have this Fun Name thing which someone is chosen, and we give them a name based on their personality or their resemblance to a celebrity or character that everyone can agree on. We really have a lot of fun doing this! We try to have fun in everything we do, but when it’s time to get down to business, then that’s what we do.
Toastmasters is where we come together as a group and work together as a team of brothers to help one another to become more people oriented. This way when we are back into society, we will know how to approach others in a civilized manner. Another benefit of Toastmasters is we will be more adept in people skills when facing others in interviews while searching for employment or other business opportunities as they come available.
So, we the Class of summer ’22 thank you all for helping us each day because we surely could not be doing this without you, and we pray that God blesses all of us! We promise to keep striving toward our goals as a brotherhood.
Jacory D. (a.k.a. “The Allstate Man”)
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women in it merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts.”
“I cannot commend to a business house any artificial plan for making men producers-any scheme for driving them in into business-building. You must lead them through their self-interest.”
– Charles H. Steinway
“The effective public speaker receives from his audience in vapor, what he pours back on them in a flood.”
Monday, February 14, 2022
This week marked the beginning of positive change for most of us attending this class. We honestly have one of the greatest opportunities offered to us while in prison. We have an opportunity to be in an environment with others who share the same goals. We get to soak up important business information and positive character-building material from the videos we watch, along with feedback from the emcees and from our brothers (classmates) as well.
We faced a so-called heart check in which the object was for us to copy the whole Prison Entrepreneur Revolution Study Guide. This booklet is about 29 pages in length, and we all looked at each other like, they must be joking…they were not! At first it was hard to see the point, but in the process of copying this study guide, we began to share with one another some of the “dos and don’ts” of the program. As we copied this study guide booklet, the information became stored in our minds, and it became clear to us why this process was necessary.
We get to meet with one of everybody’s greatest fears, public speaking! This is one of the image busters that are designed to bring us out of our dark shells, and a lot of us still have a long way to go with this process. It’s a blessing to look forward to this class and to the transformations we will experience along the way. This program rates a 10 in our book! This class is great!
Bradford C. (a.k.a. “John Coffey”)
Tuesday, February 15, 2022
The lesson in today’s class was an opportunity to grow as we became aware of the difficulties experienced by the previous graduating class, and the process they employed in becoming the greater men that they are today. It started with each person being open and honest with themselves and with others as they held themselves accountable for their past mistakes as well as their actions. This suggests the adage of knowing thyself first, and being true to yourself, so that you can be true to others.
We are grateful to have others at the forefront who are teaching us to look deeply within ourselves and bring out the real us while having fun and staying open-minded. We learn to have concern for our fellow men, which fosters the hope of becoming better fathers and family leaders so we can lead our communities into a brighter future. This is giving us a whole new perspective on the meaning of being our brother’s keeper. We encourage our fellow men to stay in line with the structured guidelines that are established to assist us in becoming better men. As we advance in this program, we are building stronger character and elevating our self-esteem to new highs. Once we start to master ourselves, we will become more adept in dealing with the changes that occur not only in our personal lives, but also in the growing world around us. God bless us all.
Keithion D. (a.k.a. “Mr. Brown”)
Wednesday, February 16, 2022
Upon entry into our PEP room, we are immediately graced with the task of dancing a happy dance at the back of the room. Then we danced to the front of the room, where we introduced ourselves. We stated our name, where we are from, and what we expect out of PEP. In doing so, we alleviate our anxiety about being shy and begin to feel more comfortable with public speaking.
We have a set of tasks and goals to achieve for the day which consist of watching inspirational videos, listening, and watching past graduates talk about their experiences, strengths, and hopes. Everything is all positive. We are in the first week of this course and we were introduced to the program’s 10 driving values: Love, Fun, Execution, Excellence, Fresh Start Outlook, Integrity, Innovation, Wise Stewardship, Accountability, and Servant Leader Mentality. All will have significant value in becoming a better man.
We were introduced to a course called Betterman, where we will learn how to be a more positive and a grateful person. This class addresses how to treat both women and men in a loving way. In addition to Betterman, we were introduced to ToastMasters, which is a well-known course. This course will help us sharpen our public speaking skills. We are achieving positive goals in our personal growth, and in our business skills. We have witnessed successful change.
Jed G. (a.k.a. “SLINGBLADE”)
Thursday, February 17, 2022
After all the waiting, we have finally made it to the PEP classroom and have begun our journey to not only becoming a better man, but hopefully successful entrepreneurs. We were unsure of what to expect, but now that we are here, we can all agree that we have made the right decision to be here. So far, it’s been a positive experience. Just in the brief time that we’ve been here, there has been a lot of growth in most of our brothers (classmates). We have seen a lot of us come out of our shells.
As we continue embarking on this journey, we will have to stay diligent and roll with the punches. PEP is not going to be easy, if it were easy, everyone would do it, but we can do this! Trust in the process and believe in the brotherhood. We are here to pick each other up if one of us may happen to stumble. In the short amount of time that we have been in this class, we have learned so much; for example, how to speak in public. We must start putting action to our words, if we hope to achieve the things that we speak about. As we all continue working toward achieving our goals, we must keep in mind exactly why we’re doing it. Hopefully, once we have completed PEP and are on our way to bigger and better things, we can help the next group of brothers who will follow us.
Donald E. (a.k.a. “Bobby Schmurda”)
Friday, February 18, 2022
As our Friday morning began in the PEP classroom, we came together as a whole group, and opened in a prayer thanking our Lord for the blessings we received, and for the opportunities we were given to make a change in our lives. We are becoming better fathers to our children, better sons to our mothers and fathers, and better husbands to our wives.
We welcomed new brothers into the program this morning. We showed them that it’s okay to be you, and not the conjured façade, or the image that we have been portraying our whole lives. We showed them how to dance down our Soul Train line, to break out of the old person, and bring out the fun and laughter in all of us.
Once we all got settled into our seats, we watched a short film about another PEP brother that was released two years ago. The name of the film was, “Heart Check.” As we began to watch this film, a little girl popped up on the screen holding a big sign saying welcome home Daddy. Someone was interviewing her and asking her questions that we as fathers, never take the time to think about. Sometimes we do not realize the damage that we have caused to our children because of our actions. When the little girl answered the questions, it was like a knife in our hearts with each answer. The hurt was real, along with the confusion on her face, as to why she felt like the only little girl without a father on Father’s Day at school. We all began to look around at each other as the film went on and there was a look of understanding why this film was called “Heart Check.”
Marlow C. (a.k.a. “The Count”)
“It is better to have loved and lost, than not to love at all.”
“Children do not know how their parents love them, and they never will till the grave closes over those parents, or till they have children of their own.”
“Great joy, especially after a sudden change of circumstances, is apt to be silent, and dwells rather in the heart than on the tongue.”