Holidays while incarcerated: Thanksgiving

If you have a loved one who is spending Thanksgiving in jail or prison, you may be wondering how to approach the Holidays. Should you send cards and photos, or does that make the fact that they’re far away more painful?
We spoke to Pelipost’s Co-Founder and COO, Becky, about how the power of photos helped her through the holidays while she was incarcerated.

What is Thanksgiving like on the inside?

You know, surprisingly, there is a lot of warmth inside. There is a lot of camaraderie, and you truly become family with the people in your cell or the people that you see every day. You walk the track with them, they serve the role as your family there. And so in the same instance, Thanksgiving, it wasn’t a thing that you like, ignore. We all knew it was Thanksgiving- “What are we going to do for Thanksgiving?” “Let’s share stories,” “let’s talk,” “let’s watch something special on TV.” You know, you find a way to make it celebratory.

Does sending photos and mail really make an impact?

As soon as the holidays came about – Thanksgiving Day was a big one – friends sending me, “Happy Thanksgiving, thinking of you” cards- all those are bonuses in there to receive. The value of a card changes. And what I mean is, out here where you can go and see hundreds of thousands of cards at Hallmark Store or anything like that, inside, when you receive a card, it means so much more. And I loved it. And I loved receiving cards. And you share them with everyone. They bring you so much joy. So to receive a card with photos inside is jackpot. When I was feeling like my tank was running on empty, with feelings, with emotions, with trying to get through another week, and I would get the envelope and pictures and reminders of home, it would refuel my gas tank and make it possible for me just to get through another week or another month or whatever it was. But it means a lot.

How can families be supportive?

A lot of my family used to think that receiving photos of the holidays was hurtful to me. So they would say, you know, “is it okay if I send you?” or, you know, “we don’t want to make you feel worse.” And they were concerned about that, and I’m sure that there are differing opinions about that. For me, it actually helped to see the families still going on, still celebrating, still living life. And although I was on the inside, it made me personally feel good that people were okay. I got to see my dad. I got to see my mom. I got to see- and don’t get me wrong, it is hard because I’m not there. But the- the happiness that you see. “Oh, my dad looks good.” “Oh, so-and-so’s growing up.” That supersedes what I feel by not being there. I feel good because I was able to at least catch up with that day and be part of the day. And it brought me joy.

Watch our full interview with Becky on your YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVGhYoqwANI

To read more about the experiences Becky has been through, check out Becky’s Story Inside Incarceration on the Pelipost blog. To download the Pelipost app go to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Celebrating 10 years of sobriety with our Co-Founder, Becky Calderon


September is National Recovery Month, which celebrates individuals in recovery and raises awareness of substance abuse and recovery treatments. We were honored to sit down with Pelipost’s Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer Becky Calderon as she celebrates a decade of sobriety, and we drew strength and inspiration from hearing her story of overcoming addiction. We hope her story inspires others who are affected by addiction, as well as their families.

Was there a moment that inspired you to begin the process of recovery?

I really did have a moment where it just happened. I remember many people saying, you know, “You’ll know when you’re ready. It has to come from you. You’ll feel it.” And it’s true. I was drunk and I was exhausted. Physically exhausted of being drunk, of needing to be drunk. And it was just one week in where I just said, I can’t live like this anymore. This is not living for me.

What were some of the key factors that helped you maintain sobriety over the past 10 years?

I would say that some of the key factors that helped me maintain my sobriety were understanding why I drank and understanding what led to it and knowing that that was under control, that that was not happening any longer in my life. And then also, if you ever feel like you think you can drink again, or you want to drink again, you remember the worst point of your drinking and you almost literally scare yourself straight. Like, is it worth risking this beautiful space I have in my brain right now to begin the whole toxic trip again? And so, the feeling of just being clear minded and not wanting to risk it again was important to me.

What is the best thing that has come from your sobriety?

Before my father passed away from dementia, he was always the one who picked me up as the drunk daughter. And when I got out of my recovery classes, three months later, his dementia progressed, and he would come and go. And there was a moment where he said, “How are you doing, mija?” And I said, Dad, I’m not drinking! I’ve been sober for three months. He gave me the thumbs up, and he said, “I’m proud of you.” And that was probably the last real ‘him’ that I got to see. To know that I redeemed myself in his eyes is like a miracle to me.

What would you say to those who are currently struggling with addiction?

What would I say to those that are struggling? I find it one of the most difficult questions because I know I truly know that there’s nothing one can say. It has to come from within. My first steps of leading to sobriety actually came when I was incarcerated, and I dealt with why I drank. It was a program called Houses of Healing. It was a 13-week program. And I dug into the childhood trauma in my life. That program was the foundation of the idea that you don’t drink, or do drugs, or whatever your addiction is because you choose or you like the alcohol. You do it because you choose to numb something that caused you damage. And I truly believe that if you’re trying to quit without dealing with that damage, that trauma, that pain, it’s impossible. So there’s nothing anyone can say to someone to get them to stop drinking. Believe me, everyone tried that. But until somebody educated me enough to say, “you’re drinking for a reason. Let’s figure that reason out and deal with that reason.” So what I would say is, don’t judge the addiction. Focus on what led you there, what caused your pain, what caused your trauma? What caused you to give up? And if you take one of those at a time, it will liberate you. It will clear your plate of everything you’re carrying. Then you can really see that it’s not the alcohol or the drugs, it’s the numbing of your brain that you’re trying to do. And when you have happy things and know how to conquer the negative, you don’t need that.

What would you say to the families of those struggling with addiction?

In closing, I want to share something about not the person who is in recovery or in their addiction, but the people that love them and don’t know how to help. What I can say is there truly is nothing that you can do to help somebody want to stop. All you can do is support, love them, and just let them find their way. You can try and guide them. But please, the one thing that you do not want to do as family, as friends, as sons, daughters, parents, is you stop living because of that. Because if my son would have stopped his college education or stopped living his life, or if I would have caused any permanent damage to anybody in my family because of my addiction, I would never forgive myself.

What are some of the ways that your life has changed compared to when you weren’t sober?

My life as an alcoholic was a blur. It was a life of hiding. It was a life of lying to everyone I loved, and hiding everything I did. Just wanting to be alone so I could just be alone with my bottle. Now it’s a life of relaxation. I can be me. If somebody says “I’m coming over,” I don’t have to panic if I’m sober or not. It’s freedom- that’s the best way to describe it. I’m free. There’s no more hiding. I’m able to just be me and enjoy being able to give someone a hug if you run into them and not worry if they’re going to smell alcohol on your breath. Little things like that. It’s just being free.

To read more about the experiences Becky has been through, check out Becky’s Story Inside Incarceration on the Pelipost blog. To download the Pelipost app go to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

How to Make Sure Your Incarcerated Loved One Receives Real Photos, Not Copies

Have you ever tried to send photos to your incarcerated loved one, only to have them tell you that they received a black and white photocopy instead? Some facilities have policies in place where original photos are scanned and copied to prevent contraband. Read on to learn more about why this happens and how you can make sure your loved one is receiving real photos, not photocopies.

Why photocopies?

Contraband from the outside, including drugs, is a concern for all correctional facilities. In an effort to prevent contraband entering jails and prisons from the outside, some facilities scan original letters and photos and distribute the copies to those who are incarcerated. We understand how crucial receiving photos can be for our incarcerated loved ones. Photos serve as an important reminder of the outside and can provide inspiration , comfort, and hope. We also understand how disappointing it can feel for both you and your loved one to receive photocopies when you’re expecting to send or receive real photos.

Pelipost works with facilities to find alternatives to photocopies

At Pelipost, our mission is getting your photos to your incarcerated loved one safely, quickly, and easily. We advocate for our customers and want to make sure all loved ones are receiving full-color, high-quality photos. We have a dedicated Director of Correctional Facility Relations who works with correctional facilities to provide solutions and alternatives to photocopying. One of these solutions has been our photobooks, which are printed with Pelipost’s signature high-quality, full color photos, directly from our secure fulfillment center. We are excited to announce that Pelipost has received approval from the Virginia Department of Corrections (VA DOC) to become the exclusive provider of photobooks in Virginia! Our photobooks are also currently available to customers sending photos to Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC).

If you know of a facility that is photocopying photos, please contact us via email at support@pelipost.com or send us a text message at +1 (844) 387-5755. This will allow our Director of Correctional Facility Relations to contact the facility. We are always here for you and we’re happy to help get real photos into your loved one’s hands.

Ready to send pictures? You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

William Davenport: PeliPALS Story

It’s hard to understand what life is like for the incarcerated. That’s why we want to bring our PeliPALS stories to light and share their experiences with incarceration. Today, we bring you the story of William Davenport.

If you’d like your incarcerated loved one’s story featured, have them mail it to Pelipost.

Written By: William Davenport

Most people are incapable of relating to the loneliness being incarcerated can bring. My family will never fully understand how letters, photos, phone calls, and visits / video visits help me cope with all the negativity that surrounds me.

Although I put emphasis on my loved ones sending photos, no one gave my request any serious consideration. Fortunately, I found a Pelipost ad, created a prepaid account, and informed my family of an easy way to send pictures. Thanks to Pelipost, I now receive photos regularly!

Photos help me get through the day-to-day struggle of missing my family. Although it’s always great to hear a familiar voice, as an aspiring photographer it’s the photos from my family that I look forward to the most. To sum it all up, my family and potential friends are always welcome to send photos to keep my spirits up during these most difficult times!

Sincerely, William Davenport

Thank you for reading William’s story.

To download the Pelipost app, go to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Safandre Lindsey: PeliPALS Story

It’s hard to understand what life is like for the incarcerated. That’s why we want to bring our PeliPALS stories to light and share their experiences with incarceration. Today, we bring you the story of Safandre Lindsey.

If you’d like your incarcerated loved one’s story featured, have them mail it to Pelipost.

Written By: Safandre Lindsey

Since I was ten, I have been in and out of juvenile facilities, group homes, and prisons. So, you can say I’ve had a hard life, but that was only because I had a hard head. I came from a good working class family, but I was always rebellious. I found God and I’m now trying to turn my life around. I have never hurt anyone to get what I want; I’m incarcerated for a series of drug deliveries.

The most important things that help me get through my day are the photos furnished by Pelipost (who makes it easy for my family and loved ones to send them to me), the music on my tablet, and last but not least, the local news- the one thing that keeps me focused on the fact that I’m not missing anything. What I look forward to the most from my family and loved ones are visits, phone calls, and emails. What my family and loved ones can do to keep my spirits up is keep praying and know that I am now doing the right thing, and will continue to when I am released.

I would like to thank Pelipost for the opportunity to share my story. To people in prison all over the world- keep your head up!

Sincerely, Safandre Lindsey

Thank you for reading Safandre’s story. Please enjoy 20% off your next 4×6 photo order with Pelipost! Simply enter code BLOG4X6 at checkout. Act fast, this offer is for a limited time only.

To download the Pelipost app, go to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

What is Love Your Inmate Day?

It’s almost time to celebrate our 5th Annual Love Your Inmate Day! Each year on August 8th, we dedicate this day to our incarcerated loved ones to remind them that they are loved, supported, and valued. Keep reading to learn more about this special day and how you can participate this year.

8/8 Love Your Inmate Day

This day was created to not only support our incarcerated loved ones but to shatter the stigma. Everyone makes mistakes, and it’s ok to talk about it. In fact, it’s good to talk about it because we’re all people, and we all deserve to feel loved and supported.

“We hope in turn this gives them the added peace of mind that their family and friends are thinking about them…”

Becky Calderon, Chief Operating Officer of Pelipost

“With everyday life on the outside racing by, we wanted to create a special day that reminds us to take pause and focus on our incarcerated loved ones, and what we can do to give them a little extra attention.  We hope in turn this gives them the added peace of mind that their family and friends are thinking about them, and are here to support them through these difficult times” says Becky Calderon, Chief Operating Officer of Pelipost.

The intentions of Love Your Inmate Day (LYID) are not only to show your incarcerated loved one that you care, but also to get in touch with other friends and families affected by incarceration. The significance of this day is to show that no one is alone in this journey, whether behind bars or on the outside. 

How to Participate

The Love Your Inmate Day website lists multiple ways to get involved in this year’s celebration. These include:

‘Love Never Gives Up’ Merchandise

Show support for your incarcerated loved ones by grabbing the latest products from our EXCLUSIVE Love Your Inmate Day Collection. Part of the proceeds are used to help children with incarcerated parents through Pelipost’s Student of the Month Program and Pelipost’s Overcoming Adversity Scholarship. You can purchase all ‘Love Never Gives Up’ Merchandise here

Dedication Wall

Get your picture on our Dedication Wall! Get your “LOVE NEVER GIVES UP” bracelet, snap a photo, and email it to us at love@pelipost.com to be added to the 2022 Dedication Wall. 

Love Your Inmate Day Giveaway

Finding ways to bring lightness and joy into a difficult experience is key to making it through the experience. Participate in the Love your inmate day giveaway for a chance to win all kinds of fun prizes, including a Visa gift card, a Pelipost t-shirt, a Love your inmate day bundle, and plenty of PeliPOINTS that you can redeem for free pictures on the Pelipost app. Learn how to enter here.

The Pelipost Team with their ‘8/8 Happy Love Your Inmate Day!’ Posters

8 Days of Dedications

Create a dedication to your incarcerated loved one on the LYID Facebook page. All you have to do is send us a photo and a message about your loved one. We will be sharing the dedications on our Facebook wall all day from August 1st-8th, 2021. 


Don’t forget to send your incarcerated loved ones photos in honor of Love Your Inmate Day! You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Pelipost Overcoming Adversity Scholarship

Joseph Calderon, the CEO and Founder of Pelipost, established the ‘Pelipost Overcoming Adversity Scholarship’ in 2021 to empower and reward students seeking a college education while overcoming the challenges of having an incarcerated parent/guardian.

“We know firsthand what it’s like to have a family member in prison while trying to attend college, and it’s not an easy journey. “

Joseph Calderon, CEO and Founder of Pelipost

Joseph was pursuing his college education while his mother was incarcerated. Because of his grit and endurance to overcome adversity, he was able to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business. Together, he and Becky began the Pelipost mission to serve families who are fighting the same battle to remain connected in such an isolating season. Pelipost is committed to helping meet the financial needs of those experiencing family incarceration, so they can pursue a college education and improve their quality of life.

We are pleased to announce the recipients of the first annual ‘Pelipost Overcoming Adversity Scholarship!’  

Meet our Scholarship Recipients 

Destiny Sanchez

“My goal is to work with foster youth. I’m currently an intern for a nonprofit organization that works with foster youth and the at-risk homeless. Many adults who have entered foster care don’t have driver’s licenses, bank accounts, birth certificates, etc., and these are some things I help them achieve within my internship. I also help them navigate financial aid and sign up for their local community college classes. As a former foster youth, myself, I can understand the barriers and challenges in pursing higher education. I try my best to lead by example and show them that it’s possible. I want to do humanitarian work in other countries one day. Meanwhile, I’m staying focused in school and within my internship.”

Xiomara Lindsay with her Pelipost Overcoming Adversity Scholarship Recipient Certificate

Xiomora Lindsay

“Although I haven’t fully decided what branch of business I want to work in, I plan on being an independent businesswoman and I have the work ethic to do what it takes to reach my goals. I would describe myself as optimistic, independent, and goal oriented. I am a very dependable and reliable person because if I say that I will do something, then I am bound to do it. I am a person that keeps their promises because I feel as though loyalty is a very important aspect of life. I am the type of person that works on a skill until I have perfected it. I’m always interested in learning new skills and interested in taking  action to things that will help me advance in my career.”

Gabriella Marquez

“I am a sophomore studying political science and on the pre-law track at the University of Southern California. I am passionate about social justice and equality. I am determined to engage in legal advocacy and make a positive impact on under-represented communities.”

Jeremiah Coleman

“My goal is to take my nurse practitioner degree and work in impoverished communities to help those less fortunate despite their inability to pay. My uncle is 66 and watching his continuing demise is a reminder every day of the healthcare needs that beset minority communities. I just want to accomplish everything God has for me. The same miraculous God in the bible is the same God that is working in our favor today. He gets his done through people, I believe wholeheartedly I am one of those people. I live in a single parent household; my mother takes care of me and my 3 siblings. She also works as a caretaker over my uncle. We realistically don’t have the funds for me to go to school, but student loans are not an option. The funds will go straight to my schooling, I simply wish to accomplish my goals.”

Itali Jones

“I believe in following through with my dreams with dedicated, hard work. It is my goal to achieve my PharmD to not only better the future for me and my daughter, to start an organization dedicated to preventing and supporting substance abusers. I want to show my daughter that dreams are never too far from your reach, and that with consistency mixed with passion, anything is in your reach.”

Congratulations to all!

For more information about the Pelipost Overcoming Adversity Scholarship and to read each of the winning applications please visit: https://bold.org/scholarships/pelipost-overcoming-adversity-scholarship/

Veronica Martinez: Sharing her PeliPALS experience.

I cannot begin to express my gratitude and am beyond thankful for your service. I’m a single mom and my children are young. I was able to set up my PeliPALS account and it was a breeze. My daughters uploaded their pictures and it’d be here in a matter of days. The fact that my daughter didn’t have to “bother” our family to get a ride and pay for printed pictures. It was a relief on both our ends. She enjoyed it because she was able to add captions. Helping me meet new members of family I’ve missed. Yet making me feel a part of with a simple picture. So thank you so much for that.

I treasure those pictures dearly and close to my heart. I’ve put them on my bunk so I wake up to see them, the sights of nature that bring me peace. Reminding me, I’m closer to that freedom and my babies. I go to bed and look up at all the pictures and know that I’ll wake up to see those smiles of the ones I love most and who love me as well. Hearing from my children via calls, emails, video visit, and pictures help me and make me so happy. The fact it’s so simple for them to upload and send pictures make it all worth it. Especially when my mom struggles with English and apps. Again, thank you so much!

My daughters enjoy but no more than I when I hear my name and see Pelipost knowing I’m receiving pictures. This helps relieve a burden from my busy family raising my children. Something so small can contribute but be a part of the family still. Thank you so much! I highly recommend your service. We will continue to use your service once I’m released because my fiancé will be happy to receive weekly and monthly pictures. Thank you so much! I’d rate you 5 stars online but til then this will do.

Sincerely,

A very happy mom!

Veronica Martinez

Use a Prison Catalog to Send a Gift to Your Incarcerated Loved One

As people, we send gifts to loved ones for birthdays, holidays, or just to show that we care. However, due to the rules and regulations of what inmates are allowed to receive in the mail, gift-giving is not the same. But did you know you can buy gifts for your incarcerated loved ones through approved catalogs? These catalogs can include anything from food, clothing, and other items that are approved to send to your incarcerated loved one. Many of these care packages can be ordered online and shipped to your incarcerated loved one’s facility. We have listed a few care package resources below. Just as a reminder, always check your loved one’s specific facility for their rules and regulations. 

Access Securepak:

Access Securepak allows family members and friends to send packages to inmates. This company was developed to eliminate contraband and greatly reduce the time and labor required to process packages. You can create an account and purchase a care package from them here: https://www.accesscatalog.com/index.html?PageID=8 

Union Supply Group:

Union Supply Group offers inmate and family package programs for either state-wide agencies or individual facilities. Union Supply Group uses the entire range of products offered by Union Supply Company and Food Express USA to create completely customized programs. To purchase, visit: https://www.unionsupply.com/sp_union_supply_direct.aspx 

Jack L. Marcus Company:

The Jack L. Marcus Company offers care packages to send to incarcerated individuals in select states. These states include California, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. To send a gift from their catalog, go to: https://jlmarcuscatalog.com 

iCare:

iCare offers snack packages that friends and family can send to their incarcerated loved ones to show them how much they care. From salty to sweet, they have the perfect package to send your loved one a treat. Send your loved one a snack pack here: https://shop.icaregifts.com/shop 

Inmate Care Packages:

Inmate Care Packages offers a wide range of options to send to your incarcerated loved one. The categories for their bundles include Food, Clothing & Apparel, Personal Care, Books/Magazines, Electronics & Accessories, and even inmate phone plans. You can find their care packages here: https://www.inmate-packages.com 

Pelipost: 

Through Pelipost, you can send photos to your incarcerated loved one. Photos are a tangible token of your love that your loved one can physically hold and cherish. Photos mean so much to incarcerated individuals, and help you to keep in contact with them. 

Ready to send pictures? You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Bobby Bostic: PeliPALS Story

To Becky Calderon and Team at Pelipost, 

I am Bobby Bostic and I was sentenced to die in prison at 16 years old. In 1995, an older man and I committed the robbery of two people who were in a crowd of five people, and committed another robbery of a single individual thirty minutes later a few blocks away. No one was seriously injured in these crimes. The judge at my sentencing hearing pronounced: 

“Bobby Bostic, you will die in the Department of Corrections. You do not go to see the parole board until 2201, and nobody in this courtroom will be alive in the year 2201.”

I have been in prison since 1994 (over 25 years now) and I have rehabilitated myself. I have completed several college courses from Missouri State University. I obtained my Associate of Science degree from Adams State University in the spring of 2020, and now I am only 30 credits from obtaining my Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. I have completed over thirty prison rehabilitation classes and programs. In addition to this, I have written five non-fiction books and eight poetry books. I also have the blueprints for several nonprofit organizations for troubled teens, and a charity that I will establish soon. Furthermore, I have many more goals that I am currently pursuing. 

I want to thank each and everyone of you for hearing my story and trying to help me. I am also doing what I can to help others. It is a struggle but we are claiming victory. If we keep saying “struggle” it will remain just that, but words can have power. 

Becky, you have lived it so you know this struggle, but you saw victory. Each photo that Pelipost sends to an inmate is a victory. Pictures mean so much to us in prison. So to the Pelipost team: all inmates in America thank you for giving us victory by each picture that you send us. Those pictures are a light in a dark prison. Each picture brings us hope, each picture makes us stronger, each picture lets us know what we are missing in the world and with our loved ones. Each picture offers us power against oppression, each picture that Pelipost sends to us prisoners gives us victory. 

Victory Over This Struggle,

Bobby Bostic