Help a Child: Volunteer at a Women’s PEP Event

DSC_0508-SI’ve spent a significant amount of time in prison investing in felons who are enrolled in the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) and working diligently to improve their character, personal leadership, and business skills, so they can become leaders for their families and community. You only have to spend one day in prison as a business volunteer to be hooked on the value of this program.

DSC_0083-SAfter many years, PEP launched its first women’s program in Lockhart, Texas. I’ve always had a heart for women and girls, so naturally, I volunteered to make the long drive to Austin to spend time with these ladies. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the women’s program. How different would it be from the men’s? I was blown away by these 70 women. Let me share why you should consider becoming a volunteer in human transformation.

Children’s Lives Are at Stake

In my conversations with these women, I learned how concerned they were for their children’s welfare and excited to finally be reunited with their kids. Rarely do I hear men talk about their kids in this way. I’m not suggesting PEP men don’t deeply care about their kids; they just don’t articulate it. They focus more on how they’ve changed, will “make it” legitimately in the real world, and ultimately give back.

DSC_0099-SMany of these men enter a PEP transition program and live in transition housing for months as a bridge to successfully acclimate into community. They need the brotherhood and support of other men making good decisions. PEP women don’t have access to transition housing, and even if they did, I don’t think they would leverage its value, because they need or want to go home and take care of their kids. They want to be moms again.

Most people don’t understand why I volunteer so much of my time and money in PEP? If I ask people to help with the orphan, they open their pocket books, but rarely can I get a new volunteer to PEP. After spending time with the incarcerated PEP women, it made me wonder, “What’s the difference between an orphan and a child who has their parent, especially their mother, in prison?” Isn’t a child of an incarcerated mother far worse than an orphan? Can potential volunteers see that helping a PEP woman is like helping an orphan?

Research (Murphey & Cooper, 2015) shows that 5 million children or 7% of all U.S. children, have had a parent they lived with go to prison. Parental incarceration has been linked with health problems, behavioral problems, and grade retention which carries into adulthood with mental and physical health problems. Although men are the majority of parents incarcerated, mothers are the growing segment of this population.

Murphey and Cooper (2015) also suggest that minimizing the child-parent separation can be facilitated by reducing the stigma and trauma for the child as well as improving communication between parent-child and making incarcerated visits more child-friendly. For most children, the first trauma is loss of an attachment figure, followed by the continued series of negative unintended consequences.

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How to Help the Children

When you help a mother not to recidivate, you invest in a child. Perhaps you don’t necessarily have a passion to help adults who made a poor choice and got caught. If you have a heart for children, you can help them by helping their mothers. See for yourself, firsthand, how hard these women are working on their character, leadership, and business plans to give their families a better future. The PEP program builds their self-confidence one assignment and one Toastmasters speech at a time. Be part of a mother’s transformation and help a child.

Reference

Murphey, D., & Cooper, R. (2015). Parents Behind Bars: What Happens to Their Children? Retrieved from www.childtrends.org


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach with an extensive background in leadership, premarital/ marriage, finances, and ministry. She coaches individuals and couples as well as designs and facilitates workshops. She has a passion to help people be the best versions of themselves. You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her at www.shinecrossingsministry.com or contacting her at coach.sandra.dillon@gmail.com

Trending: More Business Executives Caught Going to Prison

Sandra Dillon: December 13, 2017


Darin and Sandi Caught Good 2017-12-07

Business Executives Caught For Being Good

I heard a statistic that the top three fears that people have are (1) public speaking, (2) public dancing, and (3) going to prison. If true, I guarantee that the thousands of business executives, who have paused from their work schedules to volunteer with the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP), would wholeheartedly disagree with that third claim. In fact, I would bet they would say spending a day in prison with PEP men is more fulfilling than the work they do and successes they’ve had.

If you don’t believe me, I’ll let photos tell the stories that words cannot describe. PEP was founded in May 2004 and operates exclusively in the Texas prison system. Their first class started at the Hamilton Unit in Bryan, Texas, and then in 2008 moved to the Cleveland Correctional Facility, north of Houston, which is where many of my colleagues and friends volunteer.Graduates of this program receive a certificate from Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business, but the PEP men aren’t learning only business skills. They will tell you the most challenging part of the program is Leadership Academy, where they do a deep personal dive into character and come out transformed men. The program starts with leadership, because people cannot be successful in business long-term without having a solid foundation of character underpinning their decisions and actions.

If you want to learn more about this program which is transforming men, families, and communities, I’d love to introduce you to the PEP Chief Empowerment Officer (CEO), Bert Smith, and his senior leadership staff. Even better, I would love to take you to prison, so you can hear firsthand testimonies from the men and servant leader graduates. Ask me how you can get yourself a Get Into Jail FREE card.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

Come Party and Learn More About the PEP Revolution

Sandra Dillon: October 22, 2017


PEP Roundup 2You are invited to pony up and party at the PEP Round Up where you can learn more about how the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) transforms community.  Meet men like Richard, who is now a Christian leader of his wife and son and who owns a business that operates in two major Texas cities. Before entering PEP, Richard was incarcerated, gang affiliated, and a weapon-carrying drug dealer who had 7 felony convictions.   PEP was integral to transforming Richard’s life and now his family and community thrive from his life-changing PEP Roundup 3PEP experience. Richard is just one example of men transformed through the leadership academy, business plan program, and the executive volunteers who partner with these men.

PEP had another record breaking years in 2016.  PEP graduate recidivism continues to remain less than 7% as compared to the general prison population of > 50% after 3 years.  PEP graduates have achieved 100% employment after 90 days upon release.  Seventy-eight new businesses were formed with over 6 reporting more than $1,000,000 in revenue.

PEP Roundup 1The first PEP Round Up on October 29, 2017 is a fundraiser and social event to keep the program growing so it can serve more men.  This nonprofit organization runs solely on the generous donations of companies, individuals, and grants.  Although the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) fully supports this program because of its unprecedented impact, there is no federal or state funding for this program that is rehabilitating men into contributing citizens.

Enjoy live music, armadillo and pony races, games, silent auction, and an art show while dining on mouth-watering BBQ.  Converse with some of the PEP graduates who have started businesses and have some kick-up-your-heels fun! Individual tickets are $100 (tax deductible).  Although the Howdy and Hoop-de-Doo starts at 5 pm, you and your family are welcome to arrive at the George Ranch between 3 – 5 pm for a tour of the historic homes. Come join me on October 29th and change a life!


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all its employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.