NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A Dallas man is doing everything he can to change people's perception of former prisoners.
East Texas News met parents, who live in Nacogdoches, Wednesday afternoon at the Rotary Club meeting.
They shared what their family has been through and how a program called "PEP" is helping their youngest son turn his life around.
The disease of alcoholism runs in Sherry Pfaffenberg's family. It was a path to drug addiction for her oldest son, Kyle. After overcoming addiction, he later died of an overdose of drugs used during cancer treatments.
"And I remember the day I gave him over to God because I knew he wasn't going to quit using this drug,"Sherry Pfaffenberg said.
Sherry Pfaffenberg's hope turned to her second son, Kevin. Sadly, he too became a drug addict. That path led to prison, but also to the Prison Entrepreneurship[BG1] Program.
PEP students go through a vigorous six-month training session. Executives voluntarily coach participants on salesmanship, marketing, and even how to write a business plan.
Most of all, graduates leave with the confidence it takes to achieve.
Where is Kevin now? He owns his own transportation company in Dallas.
"Last month he took in like six figures as far as his revenue is concerned," said Carl Pfaffenberg, Kevin's father.
The parents are encouraging business leaders to volunteer with PEP.
"They can serve as business plan advisors. That's strictly e mail," Carl Pfaffenberg said. "That's what you do. You advise these young men on the business plans that they're creating. You can always make fiscal contributions to it. You can go to prison virtually any time with a ' get into jail card free' card that you can find from www.pep.org."
Sherry Pfaffenberg has partnered with her son in promoting PEP. Dallas United Way recently donated over a million dollars to the non-tax based program.
"With this, I see the people change," Sherry Pfaffenberg said. "I see that we don't have to spend our tax payer dollars on this if people would just step up, go in and help them do what they're doing now with your time."
The impact is less than 5 percent of the graduates return to prison saving the state over $50,000.
Sherry Pfaffenberg said Pep graduates learn, "You stand on the shoulders of the brothers before you. How can you not love that?"
The prison entrepreneurship program receives more than five-thousand applications per year. The top 200 to 250 applicants are accepted, and they are transferred to the PEP unit in Cleveland, Texas.
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