Awesome Speeches from Awesome Students!
We had a terrific night this past Thursday at our
graduation! The speeches that the students deliver seem to get better and
better with each class. As we always do after a graduation, we want to
share their speeches with you.
However, before we get to the speeches, there is something else I
want to introduce you to...it is the H.I.M. pledge. This is a series of
principles that all of our graduates pledge to live by to the best of their
ability from here on out. This had been adapted from Mike Rowe's
1. I believe that I have
the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Nothing more. I also
understand that "happiness" and the "pursuit of happiness"
are not the same thing.
2. I believe there is no
such thing as a "bad job." I believe that all jobs are opportunities,
and it's up to me to make the best of them.
3. I do not "follow
my passion." I bring it with me. I believe that any job can be done with
passion and enthusiasm.
4. I deplore debt, and do
all I can to avoid it. I would rather live in a tent and eat beans than borrow
money to pay for a lifestyle I can't afford.
5. I believe the best way
to distinguish myself at work is to show up early, stay late, and cheerfully
volunteer for every crappy task there is.
6. I believe the most
annoying sounds in the world are whining and complaining. I will never make
them. If I am unhappy in my work, I will either find a new job, or find a way
to be happy.
7. I believe that my
education is my responsibility, and absolutely critical to my success. I am resolved
to learn as much as I can from whatever source is available to me. I will never
8. I believe that I
am a product of my choices - not my circumstances. I will never blame anyone
for my shortcomings or the challenges I face.
9. I understand the world
is not fair, and I'm OK with that. I do not resent the success of others.
10. I believe that all
people make choices. Some choose to be lazy. Some choose to sleep in. I choose
to work my butt off.
Our first speech will be by Michael Pettway:
"Good evening, my name is
Michael Pettway. Before I came to Hope Inspired Ministries, I was in a
very dark place I didn't believe in myself. I didn't believe that I could
accomplish anything. I had a very controlling marijuana problem. I
couldn't get the jobs I really wanted or deserved because I couldn't pass drug
tests. But today after coming to Hope Inspired Ministries, I can truly
say I believe in myself. I know now that I can accomplish anything I put
my mind to, but what I really learned here is to look deep into myself and work
on my character flaws.
Now these days I've learned to
think positively about any and all situations. I can pass a drug test now
and that makes me feel so very proud of myself. Now I'm on the right path
in my life; I can look toward my future in a positive light. I can see
myself owning my own home someday. I can visualize myself in a rewarding
career. I can also envision myself with a bank account.
I have enjoyed the learning
experience of my internship at ADECA and appreciate my superiors Mr. Freddy Fox
and Mr. Jeff Vanguilder and all of the wisdom they shared with me.
For me, this class has been life changing. I had an interview for a
really great job at Progress Rail Service on Monday. They called me back
on Tuesday and offered me the job. I start April 21!
But none of this would have
been possible if not for my wife Anita Yvette. She has always believed in
me when I didn't believe in myself; she never gave up on me and she paid all
the bills while I was in this course. To her I'm truly grateful. I always
have and will always love you.
To my instructors Ms.
Leanne, even though we butted heads twice you gave me a chance and didn't put
me out of the program and to that I'm truly grateful. To Mr. Michael, I want to
thank you for allowing me to enter Hope Inspired Ministries and to Mrs. Ashton,
and Ms. Barbara thank you for your kind, encouraging words. Thanks to the lunch
providers and our teachers, like Ms. Brenda, who helped us with math. I
also would like to say thank you to Mr. Wayne Hilgers, my mentor, for all your
help and encouragement. To my fellow classmates, good luck on your future
endeavors and God bless each and every one of you. Thank you."
More speeches to follow in the coming days!
Have You Ever Heard Of “Code Switching”?
were blessed to have a friend of the ministry, Denise Dukes, a speech
therapist, come and speak to our students last week. Denise was asked to come
and talk to our students because many of them have trouble enunciating their
words properly which affects their ability to communicate effectively.
Denise explained to our
class (and to our staff), the concept of code switching. While I probably will
not do it justice, the code switching is the ability to communicate effectively
with one group and then immediately change to communicate effectively with
people from a different culture, background, etc.
The reason this is such an
important issue for us is that many of our students are used to only speaking
to family and friends which is a part of their culture. But when at work and
required to communicate people in a more formal and proper manner, the
communication system breaks down. While we understand this was a problem, we
didn't realize the problem had a name to it.
Denise spent some time
teaching our students some methods to learn to enunciate their words more
clearly. She also is going to help our students who speak softly and don't know
how to project their voices. We are beginning to understand just how serious of
an issue this is and that we need to spend more time in this area in order for
our students to successfully transition into the workforce.
Other positive trends we
are seeing with this class:
• Internship providers are letting us know that our students
possess a positive attitude and good work ethic.
• It is likely that several of our students will have the
chance to be hired right out of their internships because they are doing
such a good job.
• Some students are spending extra time in the computer lab
learning and improving their Microsoft Office skills such as
Excel and PowerPoint.
Thank you all for your
support, prayers, and encouragement with this class. While we have had to
dismiss more than we had hoped, we are very excited about the long-term
potential of those who are set to graduate in a few weeks.
For Him, Michael
Moments Like These
Make It All Worth It
Our life skill that we are
focusing on this week has been on relationships. We teach our students to
identify each person in their life in one of three categories: mentor, menace,
or mystery. A mentor is someone that desires the best for you and one that you
need to draw closer to in your life. A menace is someone that is not truly
interested in your best interest and therefore need to exclude from your life.
A mystery is someone that you have not yet determined whether they are a mentor
or menace and therefore need to establish healthy boundaries with until that
determination is made.
One morning in a discussion with
the men, I challenged them to foster the positive relationships (mentors) they
had in their lives. I asked them to identify those who they were closest to and
to let them know how important they were to their lives and how much they loved
and appreciated them. This is something that was a novel concept to them.
One student who is 18 years old
said that he could not do that with his mother. When I asked why not, he told
me “because if I tell my mom I love her
and appreciate her, she will think I am playing her”. I believe there are a couple of reasons for
this response. First, he has been guilty of emotionally manipulating his mother
in the past and she would naturally question how genuine he was if he, out of
the blue, showered her with love and praise. Second, it is symptomatic of what
plagues many men which is, we are scared to express genuine feelings and
emotions for fear of what people will do with them. In fact, in inner city
culture, it is a sign of weaknesses to cry or even express sadness and pain
over almost anything.
Nevertheless, I convinced him to
not predetermine his mother’s reaction and communicate to her how he felt. The
next day I asked him if he did it. He got this smile on his face, pulled out
his phone, and said, “Let me show you”. Here is a picture that I took of the
When I asked him how that made him feel he rubbed his chest and said, “All
warm inside.” Hopefully this is one lesson that truly sank home.
Loving Them Enough to
Let Them Go(2/14/14)
The events of this week remind
me of an encounter between Jesus and a rich young man. Most of you know the
story…a young man wants to know how to obtain eternal life. The young man was
obviously very religious by the fact that he was great at keeping the law. But
Jesus challenged him with a deeper truth which is that he had to love Him more
than his wealth. The young man was willing to give Jesus part of his life but
not all of it. So the young man turned and walked away from Jesus.
While there are many great
lessons that can be gleaned from this meeting, one that is impressed upon my
mind is how Jesus let this man just walk away. He didn’t chase after him and
say, “I was just kidding” or “I will compromise the truth for you”. The truth
is that Jesus loved this man like He does all of creation. He wanted him as a
disciple…but on Jesus’ terms and not the young man’s terms.
This week I had to dismiss four
students; two men and two women. I found no joy in doing so at all. In fact, my
heart aches over their situation. We desperately wanted them to become
successful. However, much like the rich young man in the story, they wanted to
do it on their terms. They wanted what was being offered (a chance at future
employment) but were not willing to make the changes necessary to be
successful. The reality is that they
have not hit rock bottom yet. They want to change but do not want it enough to
actually go through the challenges to accomplish real and meaningful change. It
is kind of like me and eating sweets… (but I digress).
This is actually a situation we
face daily…when to let go and when to hold on. I pray daily for wisdom and for
God to lead me to a proper understanding in each case. A simple test I try to
apply is asking myself this question, “Do I want this for the student more than
he wants this for himself?” If the answer is “yes”, then I have to love him
enough to let him go, pray that he soon hits his bottom, and returns with an
attitude that says, “I am now ready to become what God has created me to
become.” I ask that you pray this for all our past, present, and future
The Ongoing Drug Problem
There has been a lot mentioned in the
news lately in reference to drug abuse. It ranges from the extreme of the
heroin overdose of Philip Seymour Hoffman to the legalization in Washington and
Colorado of recreational marijuana use. Regardless of where you stand on the
legalization of marijuana use, we need to understand how it hurts those are
fighting to get out of a life of poverty.
Here is why I
believe it to be so harmful. Almost all of our students have spent their lives
running from real emotions such as anger, pain, sorrow, etc. If they can escape
having to deal with emotions, then they are not faced with the need to make the
necessary changes to become a different and better person. In other words, they
fail to grow from bad experiences. We all know that God allows us to face these
emotions in an effort to turn us back towards Him. If we can zone out, even for
a little while, then the pain is removed and my need for change lessens. The
bottom line for us is that marijuana itself is not an addictive substance but
the escape that it provides does become addictive.
this, allow me to explain how our drug policy works. If a potential student is
otherwise well qualified for our program but is positive for marijuana (not
other drugs), we sometimes accept them on a probationary basis. We allow them
time for the marijuana to work out of their system (usually four weeks) and
then test them again. If they are clean, they are allowed to stay in the
program. If they test positive, they are immediately dismissed because it
demonstrates a continued use. Just this past Monday we tested six students that
we accepted on a probationary status and five of them tested clean. One tested
positive and was dismissed from the program.
This is evidence that our students, having been given the chance to change, have chosen to face life soberly and seriously. While we were sorry to have to say goodbye to one of our students due to drugs, we rejoice over the five that are well onto a better path for themselves and their future!
CLASS NEWS AND NOTES(01/28/2014)
I want to take the opportunity this
week to share with you a critical need in our program. It seems to crop up once
or twice every class. Although we do not accept students with unstable living
situations, occasionally a student finds themselves homeless. This creates a
situation where making successful changes to their lives becomes nearly
impossible. There are a couple of temporary shelters but the use of drugs is very
prominent in many of these places and creates an even worse environment for our