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!