Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

The following letter was written by Donny D., a graduate of PEP.


donny dPEP introduced me to a new way of thinking; one that was completely foreign to me before I went to prison.

I was released early so I was not able to complete the Business Plan Competition phase of PEP inside of prison with the rest of Class 17. But I am thankful that I was able to complete the first phase, called Effective Leadership, which was focused around character development.

The lessons that I learned in PEP were immediately put to the test after I was released from prison.

I moved into the PEP transitional house in Houston upon release, but only stayed for a short time. I thought I had it together, so I moved out and got my own place. I did great for a while but I became overwhelmed with life quickly. I took on a lot of responsibility, working two jobs and trying to take care of my family on my own. I began to stumble. I lost my jobs and my home. The last thing I wanted to do was ask anyone for help. My pride wouldn’t let me.

My closest friend is a PEP brother from my graduating class. I confided in him and he urged me to reach out to PEP. I did, with great reluctance of course, and PEP welcomed me back with open arms. They did not condemn me for my mistakes and rash decisions– there was only love and acceptance. It was as if I had never left!

Now, I am attending college, studying for an associate’s degree in machining technology. I have a great career path with a full-time position in my field. I’m confident with my head held high, more involved with the program and happy that I made a conscious decision to get back on track.

I learned through my struggle what PEP really is. It’s more than a program; it’s a brotherhood, a family. It has made a difference in my life. I don’t know where I would be without it.

Read similar testimonials from other graduates here.

wreckWe received this email from one of our graduates who is now employed as a tow truck driver. The subject line was “love.”

I am reminded every day by the homeless people I see on the roads and under the bridges that I have come a long way but still need work and growth comes by the grace of God. Thank you for believing in me and giving me a chance. I saw death last night in a car on the freeway when a drunk driver rolled over 5 times. While they cut him out with the jaws of life I hooked up to the pick-up and wondered whether he had any kids or a wife that he left behind to survive on their own. Choices rule our lives and we must learn from each of them. I prefer learning from others mistakes, but without personal experience life would be nothing. I want to take this time to thank my God and my friends who have endured with much suffering and patience my decisions.

PEP graduates after speaking at YES Prep

PEP graduates after speaking at YES Prep

Last week, several PEP graduates were invited to speak to the students of YES Prep in Houston. To the right is a photo of the graduates after the presentation and below are photos of the graduates in action!

The following comes from the school’s Web site:

Since we opened our doors in 1998, YES Prep has continuously redefined possible for students, families and the public education system at large. Our students are currently graduating from college at four times the rate of their peers. Today, with 13 schools in operation, serving 8,000 students throughout Houston, YES Prep is living proof that different outcomes are possible when students from low-income communities are given access to high-quality educational opportunities.

Our graduates shared their life stories and offered these young people practical advice on how to release their potential.

As we shared in this blog last week, our graduates also recently spoke at the Teach for America Summit in Houston. Many of our graduates have a deep understanding of the issues that Houston’s public school students confront on a daily basis. Some even attended public school in the Houston area, so they truly know what it means to grow up in these communities.

More importantly, having been to prison, they have seen what happens when these students succumb to the negative influences around them. Our graduates can frequently share stories of how they were first arrested as children, so their testimonies can make a tremendous impact on these young people.

However, this is not a “scared straight” program.

We do not seek to change young people’s minds through tragic stories about the negative impact of drugs and crime. They have heard these before: in fact, many of our graduates grew up in families where at least one parent was in jail or in prison. Fear of going to prison did not prevent them from pursuing crime.

Rather, we believe that introducing positive male role models into these students’ lives is critical for their long-term success.

Why do we believe this?

Nearly half of PEP’s recent graduates grew up without a father in their home. While this does not excuse their crimes, it helps us to understand what contributed to their negative choices.

When they enter these schools, our graduates are modeling what it means to be a truly successful man. By sharing how they are able to earn a decent living, take care of their families and even launch their own businesses, our graduates show these students genuine alternatives to lives of crime (which are unfortunately seen in far too positive a light within many of the communities where these children live).

This effort also makes a tremendous impact on our graduates’ themselves. As we shared towards the end of last week’s blog, allowing our graduates to assert a new identity as role models helps them to deepen their own commitment to living a transformed life.

At PEP, one of our main goals is to inspire our graduates to do more than simply “repay their debt to society.” We encourage them to become lifelong givers, and these men pictured below are tremendous examples of PEP’s driving values of love, servant leadership and wise stewardship.

If you would like to bring PEP graduates to speak to your community, please contact us today.

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