Bell Winter 2023 Weekly Journals

Week 5

Monday                                                                                                         October 31, 2022

Today we had a blast at our first event. We were all nervous because of speaking in front of many people but today we each made progress in overcoming the fear of public speaking. We had the opportunity to give our business pitches to PEP alumni brothers who then provided us good, positive feedback. Our goals today were accomplished because we presented our pitches and we owned the stage, faced our fears, and displayed confidence.

We each got to experience the fact that PEP is here to help each of us grow and to know that we are not alone in our journey. Today we really felt the love that the PEP staff and volunteers showed towards us all.

Jonathan M. (a.k.a. “Caterpillar from Bugs Life”)

 

 

Tuesday                                                                                                        November 1, 2022

Today we did Toastmasters in the classroom. Toastmasters was a bit of a challenge because some of us are not good at public speaking but those that were speakers today did very well. Toastmasters is supposed to help make us better public speakers. Toastmasters is one of our favorite things about the Prison Entrepreneurship Program, close behind is the BetterMan class. The BetterMan videos will obviously help us be better men who put God first. We cannot wait to teach our families what we learned in this program. The program has helped us have a positive mindset. The program gives us motivation and the desire to start doing the things that will make us stronger. When we graduate, we will all be inspiring to be servant leaders and help lead the next class.

Andy L. (a.k.a. “Gingerbread Man”)

 

Wednesday                                                                                                  November 2, 2022

Today was just one of those days! What kind of things do you usually expect to hear after those words come out of somebody’s mouth? Well in PEP “One of those days” means that we had some fun! We danced, we clapped, we laughed, and we learned. The best part about it was that we got to share it with not only our servant leaders, but some of our guests from the free world. They had to dance and introduce themselves with their sweet names, and even when we had to get down to business. We all kept our spirit of fun, while still demonstrating excellence.

Our guests taught us everything there is to know about “Fresh Start Outlook” and “Servant Leader Mentality” with their presentations, encouraging us to ask questions and share our opinions with the class. We all did our best to make them feel welcome and appreciated by participating and giving them a round of applause that no doubt shook the whole building. When they left, our Servant- Leaders took over and informed us of our next goals for the upcoming weeks and advised us on how to accomplish those goals. We were then given the test everybody was preparing for in the past week. It is safe to say that we are all moving forward in a positive direction. The class of winter twenty-three has grown so much in just the couple of weeks of class and we all can feel it.

Austin B. (a.k.a. “Dobie Harry Potter”)

 

Thursday                                                                                                      November 3, 2022

We woke up at 6:00 am and we are grateful to see another day. We started the day off with ten seconds to pray to God to ask for forgiveness. We are at the point in our lives where we can recognize the need for change, so we embrace the 10 driving values. The top three things we accomplished today were 1) to see the sunrise, which means God has given us another chance. 2) we were able to obtain some valuable advice. 3) we learned about humility through having to lean on a high power for strength.

Today we were able to move closer to our goals. We all agree that applying to be in PEP was one of the best choices we could have made.

Derick C. (a.k.a. “Scooby Doo”)

Friday                                                                                                            November 4, 2022

In one word- WOW! If there was anyone among the Winter 23 class who was not surprised or excited, we could not tell. This was an amazing experience. Not only did we have fun, but it was also a learning experience for everyone. The “ice-breaker” we participated in (like in “Freedom Writers”) really opened the door for everyone to freely communicate. The barriers that came down for some of us were visible on the faces of others as we approached the line. The exercise showed that we all have more in common than we thought. Whether that be executive volunteers, staff, servant leaders, or current students, we all have similarities. Winter 23 is such a large class that we cannot all share the same room comfortably. We had sixty students pitching to 40 Executives alongside 10 PEP staff and 20 Servant Leaders. We split into two groups, so not everyone got to hear every pitch. This made the feedback more concentrated and specific. It would be safe to say that a huge part of the experience for everyone was the “Speed Dating” format used for one-on-one questions and answers between executives and participants. Everyone had wonderful things to say. We were all extremely grateful for the opportunity to be asked questions and evaluated. A lot of time our ideas are growing in our minds, but they are subject to be limited by the scope of our experience and knowledge. Without someone else to shine their light on our ideas they would never be able to reach their full potential. Big thanks to everyone who gave genuine feedback and took notes on the feedback being given. This is how we get better, execution plus feedback and a willingness to apply it responsibly. If it were an equation based on our 10 Driving Values, it would be execution (plus) servant-leader mentality (multiplied by) wise stewardship. 

Without any argument, the greatest thing about today was bridging the gap. Often, we feel we have nothing to say, whether from a lack of commonality or because of a fear that our words will not be valued. Other times we just have apprehensions about expressing ourselves to people we do not know. Today we accomplished being able to do that. We were able to hold intelligent conversations and carry ourselves well in the sight of others. We took steps forward to accomplishing our goals. We all have an idea for a business, and we have been told that our ideas are feasible. Because of our actions in the past, we were cast away by society. Now the most productive members of society are reaching out to us and saying, “Not these, they are like us!” In the words of Jason, the Red Ranger (yes, power rangers), “You did something horrible, but that doesn’t make you a horrible person.” That is what I call a Fresh-Start Outlook!

 

Christon M. (a.k.a. “Cookie Cake Chris”)

Saturday                                                                                                       November 4, 2022

            Today we prepared thank you cards to send to the executives that took the time to come judge our business plan competition. These cards will be sent to them expressing our appreciation and gratitude. Excellence and execution are values we live by to be successful in the future. We also met with our PEP family liaison to address any concerns or personal information that will help our relationship with our loved ones. This is particularly important to us because our families will have the opportunity to come to our graduation and witness what PEP is about and see the transformation. The experience with PEP so far has been great. We never imagined doing anything like this inside prison walls. The challenge has not been easy, but we have learned that the things we work hard for are the things we value more and we do not want to lose. We cannot wait to graduate PEP and use all the things that we have been taught. Today was a good day.

 

Jose D. (a.k.a. “Cha-Cha”)

 

 

Expressions

 

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

“The most untutored person with passion is more persuasive than the most eloquent without.”

La Rochefoucauld

“Those who never make mistakes work for those of us who do.”

Henry Ford

“The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but no vision.”

Hellen Keller

Week 4

Monday                                                                                                         October 24, 2022

We all had a blessed day at PEP. Our day started with our brothers dancing down the aisle just having fun. We recognized our brothers (classmates) going above and beyond by handing out praise reports for those who display the qualities of a servant leader. We then took our entrepreneur test which hopefully everyone did well on. We have really come together in the pods by forming study groups, reviewing the material before each test, and pushing each other to do better and be better. We can slowly see the unified spirit that our class of Winter 2023 is forming.

We have also had the pleasure of listening to a couple of speakers. Ms. Tara spoke about Love and Mr. Humphrey spoke on Excellence. Both are part of our Ten Driving Values that we attempt to practice daily. Love is valuable and a great principle that we as a PEP family can use today as a foundation to build on and carry us into the future. We learned that for Excellence we must put in our time and practice, practice, practice. Mr. Humphrey emphasized adjusting to adversity, working together, believing in yourself, and learning from your mistakes. The class of Winter 2023 is more than just class, we are a movement of brothers with a common goal of bettering our lives and being a family.

Essie K.

Tuesday                                                                                                        October 25, 2022

Today in our PEP class we discussed our big idea. Many of us were extremely nervous about speaking in front of a group of people, especially when our PEP brothers are going to be giving constructive criticism. During our big idea pitch we were pausing and fidgeting, trying not to stumble over our thoughts. We also worked on and learned how to present a proper elevator pitch (short speech about one’s business) because you never know when you will have the opportunity to present your idea to someone and must do it quickly.

Al Massey also visited us, and we discussed our thoughts about PEP and what we can look forward to in the future. He also spoke to us about when he was a PEP participant and how much the program changed his life. We discussed the Ten Driving Values, specifically, Fun and how it is important to embrace fun and come out of the shell that many of us form while in prison. Part of having fun here in PEP is dancing which for many of us is difficult but the more we do it the easier it gets.

 

Kenneth G.

 

Wednesday                                                                                                  October 26, 2022

On a typical weekday we have morning and afternoon classes. However, today the PEP Servant Leaders held a meeting in the morning, so we only had class in the afternoon. Nevertheless, it was still an exciting day because what we normally accomplish on a regular full day, we accomplished in just half of the day. This was achieved because we all knew the task at hand. We all took the initiative as a whole and were committed to meeting our goal.

Today is Wednesday. All week we have been practicing our business plan pitch. This is our third week of regular class, and we are proud of what we have done so far because we have all come a long way. In the beginning we functioned as individuals and now we are acting as a group. Our class is focused and determined to take on any obstacles and challenges that is on its way. We all know without our peer servant leaders and volunteers, teaching, sharing, and holding each other accountable, we would not be where we are right now. As always, there was love, kindness, fun, and accountability in the classroom today.

 Everyone in our class including our peer-educators, the graduates, and our servant leaders are working with each other in trying to get everyone ready for our business plan pitch that will be in front of the volunteers. Also, today we started our book club. We must read “Who Moved My Cheese?” by next Wednesday. Overall, it was a good day.

Andrew D.

 

Thursday                                                                                                      October 27, 2022

Today in PEP we spent the first part of our day with our guests. We welcomed Mr. Syed to PEP. We gave him his fun name of “Mufasa” from Lion King. Mr. Tim gave us a breakdown of one of the Ten Driving Values – Wise Stewardship. We discussed Wise Stewardship and how we can apply it to every aspect of our life. We also had a presentation on entrepreneurship and learned valuable insight on what it means to be an entrepreneur and the struggles that come with business ownership.

The second half of the day consisted of all of us having a chance to practice our business pitches in front of the class and preparing for our first event with the executives. It is undeniable that each of us are striving for excellence and having fun while doing it. It was an inspiration to watch as each of us is learning to break out of our shells and do something that is uncomfortable and a challenge.

Lastly, we had a chance to spend time with our PEP brother Michael Galloway who will be taking advantage of an amazing opportunity and so it was his last prison visit for now. It is inspiring to know that one of our PEP brothers is getting the chance to really make a difference. To end this journal entry, “The things that matter most should never be at the mercy of what matters least.” The PEP brothers of Winter 2023 will continue to keep our heads held high and keep pushing forward and for all the family members out there, please continue your support.

Shane C.

Friday                                                                                                            October 29, 2022

No class

 

Expressions

We must have a pure, honest, and warm-hearted motivation, and on top of that, determination, optimism, hope, and the ability not to be discouraged. The whole of humanity depends on this motivation.

-The Dalai Lama

Most people are like you and me, or the people across the street or around the world from you and me. Just like you and me, their hearts tell them that somewhere, somehow, they can make a positive difference in the world.

-William Baker

 

You only live once. If you do it right, once is enough.

-Mae West

Week 3

Monday                                                                                                         October 17, 2022

We got up this morning sober minded, refreshed and blessed to be alive. Before we got started, our class gave praise reports, and they were so encouraging, and everyone had a positive mood. Even though we all are from so many diverse backgrounds we came together as mature men and looked each other in the eyes and say, “Good morning, I’m glad to see you!”. A simple gesture can make an enormous difference, especially in prison.

As we have taken on new challenges each day and met personal goals no matter the size, we grow as men, father’s, husbands, and God-fearing men. All of us have trials or obstacles whether self-inflicted or from the outside but what we come to realize is that love is the greatest quality to display, and it never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:8a) So, we will love God and those around us despite any opposition that may present itself. Displays of humility, kindness and honesty have helped us all grow. We all had a wonderful day!

Aaron B.

Tuesday                                                                                                        October 18, 2022

Today we watched the BetterMan videos and then we went into our discussion groups. The topic we discussed was allowing God time so that he could work in our lives. We discussed our struggles, and that patience is necessary. It was great to be able to openly discuss issues in our lives. Coming to PEP has allowed us to reflect on our past actions and realize that we had been hurting others. We need to ask God for forgiveness and pray that one day the people we have hurt will forgive us. Some men in our class have been able to reconnect with the people they have hurt so they can start on the path of asking for forgiveness. Holding to on to pain and hurt can be a dangerous thing because it is like a virus. You may feel healthy but what lies within you can cripple one’s mind, body, and spirit. God is Good and we believe that by continuing PEP and keeping a relationship with God, things will only get better.

Cedric B.

 

 

 

Wednesday                                                                                                  October 19, 2022

What a day; so much to glean and process. We had a class discussion about the four-square portion of our business plan. We presented our big idea pitch, and we were all impressed at the great ideas and brainstorming that came out of the discussion. In addition to discussing the business pitch, Mr. Green from the PEP staff came to discuss Execution, one of the Ten Driving Values. His presentation was through both a personal and business point of view. It is great that PEP graduates and staff come to speak to us and share their views. It is a great opportunity to gain experience by people who have been where we are and it is also a chance to network and create positive relationships as we move forward.

Kyle B.

 

Thursday                                                                                                      October 20, 2022

Today was an amazing day at PEP! After beginning the class by praying, we began Toastmasters. Toastmasters is a club that allows individuals to work on their public speaking in a supportive and positive atmosphere. Members are encouraged and empowered to develop communication and leadership skills, resulting in greater confidence and personal growth. This is an amazing course that we are extremely grateful to have the opportunity to experience; we know that companies pay thousands of dollars to send their employees to Toastmasters. Today we told our life story in a professional and structured manner in front of a panel of evaluators comprised of our peers. We learned a great deal about speaking, integrity, respect, service, and excellence. The best part was that we learned more about our classmates. We are all thankful for the love and support and this is helping us change our lives. At PEP, we live between the wings!

Jonathan B.

Friday                                                                                                            October 20, 2022

No class.

 

Expressions

 We never know how high we are till we are asked to rise and then if we are true to plan our statures touch the skies.

Emily Dickinson

To be courageous requires no exceptional qualifications, no magic formula. It’s an opportunity that sooner or later is presented to us all and each person must look for that courage in his own soul.       

John F. Kennedy

I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.   

Helen Keller

It takes courage for people to listen to their own goodness and act on it.

Pable Casals

Week 2

Monday                                                                                                         October 10, 2022

Yesterday’s class was interesting as we participated in our BetterMan program, and we watched some encouraging videos. The videos focused on ways to become a better man and live a better life. After the videos we were able to reflect on our past and the communities where we came from. It helped us realize that we are more than the environment or circumstance where we came from, and we can grow and flourish and be so much more. In addition, we watched a video with Theresa Black, PEP family Liaison, who spoke to us about reconnecting with our family and friends. We all thought that this was great because sometimes it can be hard to connect with family, but we know it is so important.

 

Demarcus A.

Tuesday                                                                                                        October 11, 2022

Today we had fun and learned so much. We started by singing and dancing (Sometimes it is hard to believe we are in prison). Afterword, we watched the BetterMan videos which discussed manhood and ways to stay disciplined. We enjoyed getting into small groups and talking about our lives, our decisions, and the challenges that tests us as men. We learned that challenges present themselves every day whether big or small. We talked about applying our Ten Driving Values in our decision making so that it will help us make better decisions. We each look forward to PEP helping us become better fathers, sons, and husbands.

Pedro A.

 

Wednesday                                                                                                  October 12, 2022

Off Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday                                                                                                      October 13, 2022

Today we learned to expect the unexpected. We thought we has the day off; yet to our surprise we had class. We watched videos that had been made by servant leaders and PEP brothers who had recently been released. It was truly incredible to see the amazing support system that PEP provides upon release and the difference PEP can make in the graduate’s lives. This makes an enormous difference in the way we will approach re-entry because when obstacles arise, we know that we don’t have to face it alone. Every step of the way we do this together knowing that our PEP brothers are there to help. We just need to ask for help. Everyone is super excited to be involved in this program and to create new positive habits while becoming a better man in the process.

David B.

Friday                                                                                                            October 14, 2022

No class.

 

 

 

Expressions

 

Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it’s the only means.

-Albert Einstein

Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.

-Coco Chanel

You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.

-Sam Levenson

Week 1

Monday                                                                                                         October 3, 2022

Wow! Unbelievable! These are just a couple of words that come to our mind when we reflect on our first day in PEP. We are going to be taught how to become entrepreneurs and how to become better men. From our standpoint these are great tools we can use going forth and we are grateful for the opportunity. We can only guess at the treasures left to discover. So far, we have learned that everyone has entrepreneurial potential: we are all capable of starting a business. As we were studying the business vocabulary, one word stuck out among all the legal jargon “ethics” -system of morals or standards of conduct and judgement. This program is so much more than just learning about business. On our first day of class, we started session one of Betterman a 10-session educational course on manhood. Being a successful businessperson involves being a person with ethics. We should strive to make the world better. Whether it’s through new innovative ideas or service with a smile. That’s why our 10 driving values (PEP foundation is based on 10 values – Accountability, Love, Fresh Start Outlook, Servant Leader Mentality, Fun, Integrity, Execution, Excellence, Wise Stewardship, and Innovation) are so important. “Integrity”- Be honest and forthright in all our dealings and our business will flourish for it. “Love”- Love what you do and those around you. And have “Fun”- Do what you enjoy and enjoy what you do. You never get a second chance to make a first impression; we are impressed. We are so thankful for this opportunity, and we look forward to the challenges ahead.

 

Kelvin A.

Thursday                                                                                                      October 6, 2022

We, the PEP Prison Entrepreneurship Program class of winter 2023, are so grateful and truly fortunate to be able to participate in such a great program which provides such an awesome opportunity to incarcerated men. Today was an incredibly special day and a terrific way to start. We were all blessed to see the top two contenders of the previous class pitch (make a business speech about their future company). The previous winner and runner up were PFC (Prison Family Communication) and ECOP (Evidence Collection Organization Program). Executives (people who have business experience and come to the unit to help PEP participants) who got to witness the business pitches, asked questions, and answered questions. It is such a wonderful experience to get to see how former criminals have radically changed their lives and mind set. Today was a revelation for us; we are realizing that anything is possible with the right intention, resources, and support. We all have the option to change our path by a change in our belief system and thought process. More importantly we need to learn how to believe in ourselves. We cannot live in fear of what others may think or have to say about us. We must turn our dreams into an unobstructed vision by having faith, discipline, and by learning to replace the “I can’t,” with “I can.” Today we were all inspired to be more successful. We want to be better, not only for ourselves, but also for our families and loved ones. In PEP we have an opportunity for a “fresh-start” outlook on life and business. We are becoming equipped to become leaders by embracing the “Servant-Leader” mentality. We are committed to service in the spirit of Love. We are embracing by, and encouraged to embrace, innovation. We believe that without accountability we cannot change. We also believe that with integrity we can all be righteous in our business dealing and other affairs. We are learning to have fun while working because work is an important part of life and should be rewarding. We understand the values of utilizing each one of these tools in our everyday life. Throughout the process we are learning how to become “Wise Stewards” to take care of the things that have been entrusted unto us. All these principles of PEP constitute what we refer to as the “10 Driving Values”. With these we will be equipped to overcome all challenges we may face in life.

Greg R.

Expressions

“Riches begin with a thought and faith removes all limitations… “

Napoleon Hill

“Everything comes at an expense; it is what you do with the experience that instills value. “

P. Larsen

“The world knows little about its greatest heroes. “

Dan Zadra

“Nurture your minds with great thoughts. To believe in the heroic makes heroes. “

Benjamin Disraeli