Read on for the most recent coverage of how our programs change lives!
Tags: cleveland correctional, entrepreneurship, felon testimonial, graduate testimonial, PEP, pep donors, PEP graduation, pep houston, pep texas, pep.org, prison reform, reformed criminal testimonial
Tags: challenge, challenge grant, client testimonial, client testimonial letter, felon testimonial, graduate testimonial, graduate testimonials, marcus hill, PEP testimonial, prison testimonial, reformed criminal testimonial, reformed felon testimonial, testimonials
The following was written by PEP Class 22 graduate, Barry M.
I have spent most of my adult life incarcerated.
For most of this time, I thought I was just a bad person. I thought “I was born this way and there is nothing that I can do about it. I will spend the rest of my life in and out of prison.”
But when PEP supporters like you met me in prison earlier this year, they brought me a very different message. They told me: “You have value.”
By spending a day in prison with total strangers, people like you convinced me that I was not a bad person … I had just been making bad choices. They taught me that, if I made a sincere commitment to myself, I could change.
PEP supporters like you taught me that my past did not have to dictate my future.
This all started when I was sitting in my cell on the Coffield Unit in East Texas. That morning, I received a postcard inviting me to apply to PEP. I asked the others on my cellblock about PEP. They told me not to bother applying because I would never get in.
To be honest, I believed them. But I also knew that it was going to be hard to gain employment with a felony on my record. So, I loved the idea of starting my own business.
But then I met PEP’s recruiter, Marcus Hill. He had served our country in the Army and was now a successful entrepreneur. But I was shocked when I learned that, in between those things, he had spent time in prison. Just like me.
Marcus told me that PEP was much more than a business program. He told me that if I was just applying because I wanted to be an entrepreneur, I would not be accepted. But if I was applying because I needed to change – because I was desperate for a change and willing to go to any length to get it – that I had a chance.
Thankfully, I gave myself that chance.
From the moment that I walked into PEP, my life has not been the same. It feels like I’m in a dream, except I know it’s for real. Although PEP is very challenging, the rewards are greater than anything I could have possibly imagined back in that cell in Coffield.
You truly changed the lives of men like me
by supporting PEP.
The business lessons that you offered us were exceptional. And I have to admit, I am pretty proud of the business plan that I put together! But honestly, what impacted me the most was PEP’s focus on character development.
By guiding me through these programs, people like you helped me to change my thought process. From the thoughts that I think to the words that I speak, you have cleaned me from the inside out.
When I look in the mirror now, I like the man who is looking back. That is something that I could not say for a very, very long time. Thank you for giving me that gift.
To repay you, I am committed to changing the lives of others through my story. But I cannot do it without PEP, and PEP cannot exist without your support. I hope that you will consider donating $22 in honor of Class 22, which graduates this Christmas.
Your gifts matter. They make a difference to men like me, to our families, and to our community. Please go online to www.PEP.org to donate today.
Class “Transcendent” 22
p.s. The PEP Board of Directors has committed $190,000 in matching funds for every new donation before 12/31/2014! That means that a gift of $22 becomes $44 – enough to sponsor a month of bus passes for men looking for work after release from prison!
Better still … if you can make a monthly commitment, the board will match your commitment $2-to-1 based on the annual value of your gift. That means that committing $10 per month will secure $240 in matching funds for PEP before the end 2014. If you are interested, please email Charles Hearne at CHearne@PEP.org. Thank you for any commitment you can make!
Santa’s are on the job in Austin and San Antonio today! (Graduates delivering presents to the children of other PEP men who are still in prison). Merry Christmas to all!
PEP is 100% privately funded. We rely on the generosity of hundreds of individual donors, grant-making foundations, and corporate sponsors to deliver our life-changing mission. And thanks to a recent study from Baylor University, we know that every dollar that these donors give to PEP generates at least a $3.40 return on investment to our community.
PEP is now embarking on an ambitious new plan to dramatically expand our impact. As we announced here, PEP recently launched our in-prison operations within a second prison in Texas. Our goal is to continue to scale our work in our home state until we can reach at least 10% of all of the inmates released from Texas prisons each year.
Today, we are proud to announce that the Scurlock Foundation has awarded PEP a remarkable FIVE-YEAR grant to support this expansion!
As Billy Wareing, a board member for the Scurlock Foundation, states:
“The Scurlock Foundation is honored to partner with PEP in their transformative work to end the cycle of recidivism in Texas prisons and bring hope to inmates who have lost heart. The work that PEP does is redemptive in nature and we believe that God is working through PEP to restore families, bring hope through employment opportunities and ultimately restore all things through His son, Jesus.”
Please join us in thanking the Scurlock Foundation for their tremendous investment in our future!
Posted: December 16, 2014 in About PEP
Tags: Baylor University, entrepreneurship, grant-making foundations, grants, nonprofit, organization, PEP, pep.org, prison, Prison Entrepreneurship Program, prison reform, rethink prison, Scurlock Foundation
Tags: children, Christmas Project, Christmas trees, Christmas wishes, entrepreneurship, Highland Park United Methodist Church, pep dallas, pep houston, presents, prison, prison reform, volunteers
PEP has a rather urgent and important Christmastime need. As many of you know, Highland Park United Methodist Church (in Dallas) is the very generous and sole sponsor of our annual Children’s Christmas Project. For several years now we have collected data on the children of the men in our program from their caregivers, we then put that data on a card that is hung on one of several Christmas trees at the church. We return a few weeks later to sort, wrap, mail and deliver hundreds of Christmas wishes to the precious children of the men in our programs. This year we had almost 200 cards on the trees and unfortunately 48 children did not get picked up or chosen so, we are asking you, our most generous friends, to help us fulfill the wishes of these boys and girls ranging in age from 5 to 18. We have 26 boys and 22 girls.
Our brilliant IT Team and one of our executive volunteers worked together to come up with a solution for these needs … they’ve designed a program and online store to help make giving easy. If you’d like to provide gifts for one or more of the children who were not selected, we can give you that opportunity! The way this works is that each of the 48 children’s wishes have been uploaded into this online store, you may simply click on one or more items and know that you are fulfilling the wishes of a child or children. Your gifts for these children are considered directed donations which means that the funds are restricted for the specific gifts you choose, and the money you spend is a legitimate tax deductible donation for which you will receive a letter from PEP (for use with your 2014 tax return).
The money you spend is exclusively for the benefit of a child of one of our participants like 17-year-old LaMarcus, who asked only for a coat and clothes. LaMarcus enjoys studying and playing sports. He was very close to his father and has missed him terribly in the three years he’s been away. Or, there’s five-year-old Destin who loves going to the park and playing games. Destin needs clothes and shoes (her favorite color is pink!), but she’d also love video games. If you’d like to fulfill a wish or two (or three) please visit http://www.pep.mybigcommerce.com/ and start spreading some Christmas cheer!
If you have questions or need assistance, please call Kristie Wisniewski at 713-366-0293.
Thank you and may you and your family have a very blessed and Merry Christmas!
Tags: amazon, amazon smile, amazon smile pep, entrepreneurship, PEP, pep dallas, pep houston, pep texas, pep.org, prison, Prison Entrepreneurship Program, prison entrepreneurship program amazon, prison reform, rethink prison
Tags: class 18, client testimonial, client testimonial letter, entrepreneurship, felon testimonial, graduate testimonial, graduate testimonials, PEP, pep dallas, pep houston, PEP testimonial, pep texas, pep.org, prison, Prison Entrepreneurship Program, prison reform, prison testimonial, reformed criminal testimonial, reformed felon testimonial, rethink prison, testimonials
The following was written by PEP Class 18 graduate, John C.
I thank God for putting PEP in my life. I can honestly say that without PEP I would certainly be lost. The program really taught me how to seize the moment, instilling confidence within me. Because of PEP, I know now that I can succeed and that my goals and dreams are attainable.
A great man within PEP once told me that a man without a plan ultimately plans to fail. He let me know that every great business man knows the value of his family, and he is always aware of who is “riding on his bus”.
The invaluable training given to me by PEP on the inside, although mentally straining and severely intense, prepared me for the obstacles sure to come my way upon release. I learned that life is what you make of it. No one is dealt the same hand, and the only thing that matters in the end is how you play the hand you’ve been dealt.
Upon release I was faced with a GPS monitor, parole and probation. I also had two of the most important women in my life play the roles of surrogate parole and probation officers (I love you, Mom!). Along with two AA classes, PEP eSchool, a job, community service and two beautiful children that required much of my attention, there was no time to waste. Losing focus was never an option. But with all my PEP brothers and extended PEP family in my corner rooting me on, success was the only viable outcome. What a great feeling to know that I am not driving a rundown bus on spare tires. Instead, I am chauffeuring a world class charter bus and the passengers are all ready to help me drive if begin to fall asleep.
But I am glad to report that I am not asleep at the wheel. I recently graduated eSchool. I have also successfully completed my parole requirements and have been once and for all cut free from that GPS monitor! I attend AA meetings now, not because I have to, but because it is one of the many practices I believe I should carry on to ensure my continual success.
Honestly, if I can do it, anybody can. All it takes is a little faith in God and the support of amazing people, like those I have in my PEP family.
Thank you for the opportunity to share.
Class 18 Graduate
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This year, PEP is very proud to announce that our Houston Employer of the Year is Cedric Hornbuckle … the charismatic leader behind Moved by Love, LLC.
Here are some photos of Cedric at the 2014 Houston eSchool Graduation Dinner. Cedric was recognized at the ceremony for his many contributions to PEP over the years, particularly his service as a mentor and employer to our recently released graduates.