Graduation and a Long-Awaited Family Reunion

Posted: July 6, 2015 by Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) in About PEP

Stellar 23’s graduation included 97 men who were all successful winners of the Business Plan Competition, and more than 230 family members. After a warm welcome from Mike Humphrey, Chairman of the PEP Governing Board, and Warden Jordan of the Cleveland Correctional Center, the men were encouraged by Davis, a member of Class 8, and a recent graduate of the Mays School of Business at Texas A&M. Davis shared a memorable story of the life of a sea turtle and its success in leaving the nest, scrambling over his brothers, and surviving a host of predators before being able to swim freely in the sea.

Grad Group

There were so many wonderful family reunions during the afternoon, and everyone was able to enjoy a lot of time visiting with family members. A group of wonderful volunteers from Faithbridge United Methodist Church led by Jon and Judy Goodale and Nancy and Katie Kennedy provided a great reception and the perfect environment to celebrate the achievements of this extraordinary group of men.

Class 23

One of the long awaited reunions was between Dustin and his father. Dustin’s mom and dad split shortly after he was born, and so the last time Edward had seen Dustin was when he was three weeks old. Edward lives in Michigan, where he is a long haul truck driver. Dustin’s dad missed his son over the years and wanted to reconnect – he just didn’t know how. He even named his oldest boy in his second marriage “Dustin” in honor of his first son he felt he had left behind. Through Dustin’s half-brothers and half-sisters reconnecting with each other, they ultimately were able to help Edward understand where Dustin was. Edward and Dustin’s mother, Pam, had also reconnected in the intervening years. As the Class 23 graduation was coming up, Dustin’s half-sisters made plans to attend, and encouraged their mother and Dustin’s father to attend as well. Edward and Pam made the 1300 mike drive down from Michigan over two days in order to be with Dustin and celebrate this achievement. Even a breakdown with the car did not keep them from being there, so that Edward and Dustin could see each other for the first time in 35 years.
Dustin has served with the Catholic chaplain at Cleveland, and assists with both the monthly mass as well as the weekly Eucharistic services. He is also involved with the RCIA program. Dustin is also passionate about his recovery process.

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