2017 North Texas award recipients: Linda Thomas (left) – Volunteer of the Year; Kyle Cox (ctr)- Entrepreneur of the Year; and Brent Taylor (rt) – Employer of the Year
PRESS RELEASE: DALLAS, Texas – April 24, 2017
Two years ago, when Carl and Linda Thomas stepped inside the Sanders “Sandy” Estes Unit in Venus, TX, they found themselves locked behind bars with men convicted of crimes ranging from embezzlement to murder. Those felony crimes, however, were irrelevant to the Thomases. They did not go to the prison to judge the men on their past, but to volunteer their time preparing the prisoners for their future. That first visit turned into a “calling” for the husband and wife team. Since, the duo has coached, mentored and positively bolstered the lives of nearly 500 imprisoned men as executive volunteers of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP), a comprehensive curriculum designed by Baylor University to prepare inmates transitioning from behind bars to a working society… (click on the button below to download the full press release)
Carl and Linda’s community leadership in Dallas lead them to giving back to the Prison Entrepreneurship Program as an Executive Volunteer in business plan development and, for Linda, as Guest Instructor for Dressing with Influence for Interviewing and more. Linda has also developed and produced storytelling events in Dallas through Truth & Daring Open Mic, After The Slammer: Story Slams and is starting Tell Me More Stories: A Spoken Word Talent Show debuting March 18, 2017.
We are not spokes people for the Prison Entrepreneurship Program. We are busy business people who volunteer for PEP. However, we have been so impressed with the program that we want to share it with you!
Linda and Carl started going to the Prison Entrepreneurship Program in April 2015. The PEP non-profit organization had been operating in the Houston area since 2004 and were now expanding to our area. They were looking Executive Volunteers to join them one day a month at the Sanders Estes Correctional Unit in Venus TX. There they help male prisoners who are within 3 years or less of being released after serving their sentence. They had already been accepted through an application process and had taken a 3-month character assessment before they would join in the part pf the program where they meet the volunteers who will hear their ideas for starting their own business when they are released. It is a 6-month process. At the end, they received a certification of completion in Entrepreneurial Studies from Baylor University in Waco TX. The volunteers join in celebrating with their families at this special occasion.
Linda donated to the prison library her book COLOR NATION: The Power of Color in Business and Leadership to help the men in understanding how people respond to different colors they will be wearing in the free world, how to choose colors in their business logos and marketing materials. Several men asked their In-Prison Education Coordinator if she could come speak to them in a class since this is what she was already doing in her work.
What Linda enjoyed most about volunteering and giving programs at the men’s prison in Venus and Cleveland TX was their thankfulness, Number 1. They listen and they want to learn from everyone. It is always a pleasure to work with this exceptional program.
If you would like join Carl as an Executive Volunteer, please call him directly at 214-682-4122.
Linda and Carl at PEP