The Pelipost Story

Becky & Joe at Pelipost HQ

Pelipost is a family run business that was born out of love and personal experiences of Mother/son, Becky and Joe Calderon, who experienced first-hand what it’s like to have and be an incarcerated loved one.

Joe was in college, Becky’s legal troubles caught up with her, and she received a three year prison term. Becky was sentenced to California’s Central Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, an eight-hour drive away from Joe. Communication was extremely limited, and finding ways to stay in touch was challenging. 

While incarcerated, Becky missed major events, like her son’s graduation, when he got his first job out of school, and when he bought his first car. Becky would ask Joe for photos of his life, but sending photos to prison manually is a complicated, time-consuming process, and he struggled to find the time to send pictures.

“To receive pictures from home was a celebration in the cell,” Becky says. “It didn’t matter who received them, they were always shared with those around you. It’s like saying ‘SEE! This is my real life outside of these walls.’”

“One day, I remember thinking to myself ‘I have thousands of pictures on my phone. I wish there was a service that could print and send my photos for me,’” Joe says. “The idea stuck with me and upon my mom’s release, we got down to business and launched a mobile app called Pelipost.”

From this personal experience, Pelipost came to be. Becky and Joe understand what it’s like to be separated from a loved one by incarceration. Their mission is to bring hope to families and their incarcerated loved ones through cherished representations of the love and life on the outside. Today, Pelipost has shipped over 10 million photos and proudly serves over 500,000 customers around the world.

Dionna and Her Story From the Inside

Pelipost is launching a new series devoted to the stories of those incarcerated. Our next story is by Dionna Beacham who shares her struggles and her triumphs while behind bars.

Written By: Dionna Beacham

Hey Pelipost Viewers,

I would like to share my story with you. I’ve never written for a blog before, so bear with me.

I am a 45-year-old African American woman who has been incarcerated since the age of 19 for a crime I committed in 1994. My 14-year-old co-defendant did a few months in a juvenile center and went home. She put the crime and blame on me because I was older. She got off without any repercussions. I’ve been sitting behind bars for 27 years for a crime that was committed by two people but was solely placed on one individual. 

At the end of the day, I was found guilty by a jury in 1996 and sentenced to an extended term of 90 years imprisonment. The state wants me to serve 45 years of that 90-year sentence. I was a first-time offender who had no criminal background but was sentenced as a habitual criminal.

Did I deserve to be punished for my crime? Absolutely! One hundred percent! Should it have been so harsh? I don’t believe so. I deserved to do time behind bars, but to sentence me as if I am the worst of the worst and incapable of change isn’t fair.

Still to this day, I continue to fight for my freedom, reaching out to various organizations, projects and legal firms for professional assistance. The road has been bumpy, but I refuse to give up. I continue to fight because I am no threat or danger to society, nor am I that same selfish, non-compliant, immature teenager who did a lot of childish and foolish things in her past. I’m mature. I’m wiser, and my “thought process” is far from what is used to be when I was a kid. 

My past does not define the person I am today. During my years of incarceration, I’ve kept busy doing positive things trying to prepare myself for society. I’ve graduated from several college classes and in March 2020, I earned my Associates Degree in Liberal Studies. That is something I am very proud of.

The criminal justice system talks a good game of rehabilitating, restoring and returning offenders back into society, but truth be told, the non-violent crimes and/or repeat offenders are the ones who keep getting chance after chance. Offenders who have nowhere to go upon release and did nothing to better themselves while incarcerated. Yet, offenders like myself who have a strong support system on the outside, have a place to go upon release and bettered themselves through education are the ones who rarely get a second chance to prove that we can live in society as law-abiding citizens.

I also know that no good deed I’ve done while incarcerated can erase the fact that the crime I committed in 1994 changed and disrupted the normality of so many lives. Although I am sincerely remorseful and very apologetic to the victim’s family and my family as well, the consequences of my past actions still remain. I cannot change the past. All I can do is continue to work at being better than I was the day before. I’ve evolved into a mature, hardworking, responsible, and educated woman. My freedom means a lot to me and I will not stop fighting until I get it.

What helps me get through the day? My faith in God. I was brought up in a Baptist church, so I look to my daily bread readings to help build my strength, because at times I do get discouraged. Writing my own fiction novels helps me get through the day as well. Writing takes me away from prison for a while. Last but not least, knowing that I have family and friends on the outside who love me and support my fight for my freedom really means a lot and gets me through another day.

What do I look forward to from family and friends? Mental support, letters, emails, visits, and phone calls mean a lot to me. It gives me that connection with them. Staying mentally fit goes a long way behind these walls.

What can my friends and family do to keep my spirits up? Honestly, just continue to encourage and support me mentally and spiritually, and most of all continue to help me fight for my freedom.

To be incarcerated for over two decades and never see a parole board is truly sad. The parole board seriously needs to come back to Illinois. Offenders are just sitting here getting old. Hopefully change is going to come.

Respectfully, 

Dionna B. 

FAQ With Becky, Formerly Incarcerated and Co-Founder of Pelipost

Incarceration can be a challenging journey for all parties involved. As the loved one of someone incarcerated, you know that it is important to keep in contact to boost their morale. But just how important is sending photos to the person on the inside? We sat down with Becky Calderon, a formerly incarcerated individual and the co-founder of Pelipost, for an inside perspective on receiving mail behind bars. 

Q&A with Becky, Co-Founder of Pelipost

Daily Encouragement

Incarceration can be a very difficult and dark period for a person, and take a toll on mental health. The incarcerated are stripped from their friends and family, living in an unfamiliar environment, and away from their normal lives and routines, which can offset everything. In fact, 23% of incarcerated people suffer from major depressive disorder, and many others suffer from a variety of other mental illnesses. Sending mail to inmates can help encourage them on a daily basis and bring them joy on a dark day. For Becky, thinking of her family pushed her to keep going, and receiving mail from them fueled her fire. “It adds gas to your tank and it feeds your energy,” she says. Although sending mail may seem insignificant to you, it can bring daily encouragement for someone on the inside. 

“You go through real lows when you feel like you don’t know if you have the will to make it through the end of the day, week, or month,” says Becky. “When you’re in there you want to focus on surviving in there, you don’t want to think about home all the time, but sometimes the mail, calls, and visits remind you that you have a life, a purpose, and a meaning.” 

A Picture’s Worth 1000 Memories

There are a multitude of ways to keep in touch with your incarcerated loved one, from visits to phone calls to sending letters. However, the most important way from the eyes of the person on the inside is by sending photos in the mail. The visits are great, but they can only happen every month or couple of months if the facility is far away. However, a photo sent in the mail is something tangible your loved one can hold and look at anytime they want to see your face. Although many facilities are allowing photos sent through email nowadays, it is better to have them printed physically. 

“When you’re feeling down and lost you can go through your box, get your pictures, have them in your hands and remember that memory,” Becky says. “You can look at it over and over and see that memory differently with endless possibilities.” 

The Difference a Photo Can Make

Your incarcerated loved one understands that life is fast on the outside, and it can be hard to find the time and resources to send them photos. But receiving the photos can make a world of difference in their attitude and motivations. “When you get pictures of your kids waiting for you to come home, or you see your mom getting older, or if you become a grandparent while you’re in there, you become determined to not get into trouble because you feel the need to come home,” Becky states. “It motivates you to do good, stay on track and take courses or anything you can do to shorten your time.”

Becky and her son, Joseph Calderon, decided to create Pelipost after experiencing the impact receiving photos while behind bars can make firsthand. Becky recalls that all of the people in her cell would gather around when one of them received photos, and they all would share in the joy together. “Part of the reason we created Pelipost was so I could show people that this is my son and this is my life,” Becky says. “The pictures validate that you are someone, that you have a family that cares, and that you created something good. The feeling can’t be matched.”

All in all, sending your incarcerated loved one tangible photos for them to hold can make a huge impact on the time they spend behind bars. Becky adds, “Sometimes you need that push: don’t give up, look at your family, don’t give up.” 


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.

My Journey Behind Bars (Pt. 4)

Pelipost is launching a new series devoted to the stories of those incarcerated. In honor of that, we are featuring the story of Tyrone Toliver called ‘My Journey Behind Bars.‘ This is the final part of Tyrone’s story…. (get caught up with part onepart two, and part three.)

“Because we are family!”

Written By: Tyrone Toliver

Imagine if I had gotten the baseball scholarship that I was working toward before I began my journey behind bars. What if I went to college? A year or two later, I’m good enough to be drafted by a pro team. I’m worth millions! I tell uncles, aunts, and cousins not to put their time, energy, and life savings in an investment that I know isn’t good. But no one listens to me and as a result, they lose everything.

Am I now obligated to support them? To give them loans? To help them just because I’m family? Why can’t I say, you should have listened to me, so live with your decision. Why can’t I say, you’re on your own, my money is mine? Everyone in my family would expect me to help because I could, even if they didn’t take my advice and avoid trouble. Why? Because we are family! Anybody who is in contact with an incarcerated family member needs to say to themselves, he or she might not have taken my advice, but we are still family.

I was loyal to a fault in the criminal world. I put that loyalty into something positive when Kristy came into my life. The moment Kristy was supporting my goals and proud of my accomplishments, I was receiving all I needed to stay out of trouble. It was tough in the beginning, but I had Kristy as my backbone. There were so many days that I wanted to give up and quit. What helped me get through these difficult times was looking at her photos, reading her letters, calling her, and hearing her say, “I’ll be visiting at X time Saturday and Sunday.” How could I hurt her by giving up?

“The words “I’m proud of you’ motivated me, and her loving support inspired me to change.”

The rehabilitative groups I signed up for were substance abuse, coping skills, life skills, and art appreciation. These groups helped me accept responsibility for my actions and gave me a clear path to successful change. I had to use my time wisely and put in an honest effort. Talking to Kristy about my time in all of these groups was helpful. I would send her my certificates every time I hit a milestone. 

One of Tyrone Toliver's certificates of completion that he has received while incarcerated.

The words “I’m proud of you” motivated me, and her loving support inspired me to change. I become a better person every day. From her compassion, I learned the definition of reliable, respectable, and being resilient. This all came through in her efforts to distract me from prison life and to get me to think about the free world. It’s funny because she had no idea how much of a difference she was making in my life by simply being by my side. We got married on March 21, 2014 and I am so grateful to call her my wife.

My belief system slowly started to change. Kristy’s compassionate support helped me think about what I used to value and what I value today. 

I sit in my cell with eight photo albums of her, working on achieving my limit of ten photo albums. Each album has 100 photos. When I’m stressed, I look at her photos. When I’m depressed, I look at her photos. Bored, anxious, or when I want to fantasize, I look at her photos. 

Tyrone and his wife Kristy who helped him rehabilitate during his journey behind bars.
Tyrone and his wife Kristy

She dedicated the past eight years of her life to giving me companionship, a commitment, dedication, and love. I get the feeling that my biological family gets jealous of Kristy’s understanding of my needs and her compassion for our struggle. 

I believe that incarcerated individuals who are in a rehabilitation program and recovery need someone on the outside to help motivate them and hold them accountable. I went from the SHU to a maximum-security, 180-design (highly secure), level 4 yard; to a medium-security, 270-design (more open), level 4 yard; to this minimum-security, level 3 honor program. I achieved countless certificates, laudatory chronos for jobs I held, conduct credit, and mentoring and group facilitator achievements. And now I’m a college student. None of this would have happened these past eight years if I had never met Kristy and saw that there still was beauty in this world.

Don’t forget to send your incarcerated loved ones photos! You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

My Journey Behind Bars (Pt. 3)

Pelipost is launching a new series devoted to the stories of those incarcerated. In honor of that, we are featuring the story of Tyrone Toliver called ‘My Journey Behind Bars.This is part three of Tyrone’s story…. (get caught up with part one and part two)

Written By: Tyrone Toliver

I used to ask myself why my family did not love me. Today, I ask myself, why it is so hard for my family to believe in a family bond or connection, despite being separated by prison? 

On October 20, 2012, a wonderful woman by the name of Kristy wrote the first of many letters to me. It shocked me how I could easily feel the honesty and truth in her words. 

I struggled with whether or not I would enroll in self-help groups, take correspondence self-help courses and noncredit correspondence college courses. I knew that therapy groups from the mental health department would give me an easy transition, so I signed up for them. How else would I get Kristy to see that I loved to laugh and that I appreciated a great sense of humor if I was still stuck in this dark place? 

Kristy helped calm my spirit with her words of encouragement, focus, dedication, and commitment. I knew I wanted to marry her, but I knew very little about relationships, marriage, honesty, balance, and supporting someone emotionally. I decided to dive head-first into becoming sober and rehabilitating myself.

‘I came to grips with the fact that some of my family members needed to hear what dedication, commitment, loyalty, and being family is all about.’

Cleaning up my system allowed me to clear my head. I came to grips with the fact that some of my family members needed to hear what dedication, commitment, loyalty, and being family is all about. They needed to hear from me in a way that only they could understand. So, I wrote all my family members and told them this: I am part of this family, regardless of the choices I made, which have cost me dearly. I’ve been taken away, and yes, I’ve struggled. But you all, no matter what, should have been around throughout this 30-year journey. I was a family member who needed your love and support to connect me to you all…

Learn more about rehabilitation, recovery, and loved ones in Part 4 of Tyrone’s Journey Behind Bars coming soon…

Don’t forget to send your incarcerated loved ones photos! You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

My Journey Behind Bars (Pt. 2)

Pelipost is launching a new series devoted to the stories of those incarcerated. In honor of that, we are featuring the story of Tyrone Toliver called ‘My Journey Behind Bars.This is part two of Tyrone’s story…. (get caught up with part one here)

Written By: Tyrone Toliver

I may have been better at hiding my anger but regardless I still participated in many of the riots that occurred in Pelican Bay. As a result, my cellie and I were sent to the SHU. This is when I experienced a nightmare that overwhelmed me with fear. I told my cellie ‘something bad is about to happen.’ 

Not too long after this incident, I was told that I had to go to court for assaulting a correctional officer. Even though I won the case, the fear remained. In August 2000, I was told that in a month, I would be paroled back to the streets. That’s when I knew where my fear was actually coming from. The fear of getting out. 

“I was being kicked out of my home….”

Those of us who do whatever it takes to survive do not allow time to do us. We do not look at calendars, but instead we live according to seasons or sport seasons throughout the years. It’s easy to forget how long you’ve been gone. You forget the date, your age, how much time you’ve got left, and even faces. In 2000, the SHU had taken a mental and emotional toll on me to the point that I would hear voices. So for a while, I thought being told I was going home was actually Thorazine wearing off. 

I was not asked to make a parole plan. So once they came to my door, I thought I was being punked. Five hours later, the transportation officers came to the SHU to get me. This is when I really knew I was in big trouble. I was being kicked out of my home.

I was released from prison with no skills and on psychiatric medications. I was to live with my cousin, who was addicted to drugs, in my enemy’s territory, miles away from my city. Fear, anxiety, stress, depression, and delusions made me run to the streets with childhood friends to do drugs. However, through some of these friends, I was able to find two jobs that helped me to stay away from my cousin’s place. 

My jobs were in the same city as our hangout spots, so among the younger homies, I took up the big homie role. I told my war stories and backed up my words with my actions. I felt love, support, respect, and like I belonged, and I felt at peace again. Unfortunately, in April 2001, I was arrested again.

Eventually I was convicted of second-degree robbery and sentenced to a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life as a third-striker. Even though I was ready to pick right back up where I had left off, I was different. You see, even though I was gang-banging and committing crimes during my 7 months out, I was also working. In my job, I was meeting future NBA players, recording artists who sell millions of records, and college students. I worked security for all of the music concerts in Imperial County and Los Angeles County, while also covering Long Beach State College for all sporting events. Before my arrest, I had started dreaming of a future again and living a good life. Once I got convicted in February 2002, those dreams faded away.

Then, in 2004, my little brother was killed. In 2006, I tried to kill myself, and in 2012, I tried to kill another inmate. As I sat in the SHU again, facing a second 3-strike sentence, I heard people talking over the tier about recovery and rehabilitation. The first time I have ever heard the word “recovery” was in a juvenile hall Alcoholics Anonymous group, so I stopped listening. It wasn’t for me. But then I thought, a governor of California had recently added “Rehabilitation” to the name of the California Department of Corrections (it’s now California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.) I never knew why, so I became curious. 

I started listening again. I heard inmates talk about how you might live in a good home but be the product of a toxic environment. You might have friends that get you caught up in bad things. Your family might blame you and desert you. This got my attention! They were talking about things I thought about and was too afraid to talk about.

These inmates talked about low self-esteem leading a group of kids to break the law. Then they talked about taking college classes, doing correspondence self-help courses, and going to self-help groups when we were out of the SHU. 

These guys were talking a language I had never heard before. As I listened, day after day, I realized that they sounded like the college kids I had worked with in my event security and telemarketing jobs when I was out in 2000.

Then, I asked myself ‘why I should do any of that when I have 3 strikes and no one cares what I do or even if I survive prison.’ The only time I was sent money was when I was in the hole or in the SHU. Sometimes I would be lucky to get a package to replace my property when I got out of those places. Memories of my family missing, dead homies and family members played on my mind. 

‘What was the point of me being anything than the best at surviving prison?’

For months, I sat troubled mentally and emotionally, knowing that my family would show me more love once I died a respected gang-banger. The neighborhood would show my family the ultimate love and respect only in that situation. So what was the point of me being anything than the best at surviving prison? Then, I recalled a family member who told me that I should have listened to my family’s words, but not lived like they did.

Throughout my life, I made choices behind bars as a kid, as a young man, and as an adult. Now in 2020, I wish I could take some of those choices back. I used to blame my family because I thought that all I needed was for them to do the opposite of A, B, and C (as mentioned in Part One.) However, what I really needed was their support and acceptance. I probably would have had a different time locked up in the very beginning, and probably never would have come back.

I’m wiser today because in October 2012, my life changed. Today, I’m blessed, loved, and cared for because someone came into my life and showed me pure love. Her words helped motivate me to look into self-help courses, correspondence courses, self-help groups, and into changing my negative behavior into positive actions…

Learn more about rehabilitation, recovery, and loved ones in Part 3 of Tyrone’s Journey Behind Bars. Click Here

Tyrone and his wife Kristy who helped him rehabilitate during his journey behind bars.
Tyrone Toliver and his wife Kristy

Don’t forget to send your incarcerated loved ones photos! You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

My Journey Behind Bars (Pt. 1)

Pelipost is launching a new series devoted to the stories of those incarcerated. In honor of that, we begin this series by sharing the story of Tyrone Toliver and his journey behind bars.

On my first day in prison, in 1995, I was fighting a mental and emotional battle…

Written By: Tyrone Toliver

So many find it hard to show love, compassion, and support for a man or a woman who is incarcerated. This is especially true of family, who often say one of the following things, to themselves or to their incarcerated family member:

  1. You weren’t raised to break the law or hang around anyone who is a criminal.
  2. I do not have enough time to spend it on a person who is incarcerated.
  3. You broke the law, you do your time. You did not want to be out here with us; if you had, you would not have committed the crime or put yourself in the predicament that got you there in the first place.

What family members who say these things do not see is the underlying fact that no matter what, the person who is incarcerated is still family. 

In my situation, I was taught how to commit crimes and do drugs by my own family. Gang-banging allowed me to make a name for myself, while providing security and protection for them. 

But as my journey behind bars began at age 10, I realized that my family did not appreciate my sacrifices. I believed that because writing letters to me, accepting my collect phone calls, and sending me a money order once a month was too much for them to do. So, as a juvenile delinquent, I carried hatred, anger, and animosity inside me—not for my enemies or for authority, but for my very own family. 

This hatred was something I had never talked to anyone about. As a result, I entered prison in Tracy, California (AKA “gladiator school”) at 18 years old (1995) and all I wanted to do was hurt someone else. 

My journey behind bars continued at 16 years old. My family thought that I would do all that I possibly could to come home. To this very day, I don’t know where they could have gotten such a ludicrous idea. (As a mature, rehabilitated man today, I’m afraid to ask them.)

You see, they never gave me a reason to seek recovery, rehabilitation or help change my way of thinking through education. Speed up to 2012, and for the first time in my life, I heard about coping skills, toxic environments, arrested development, self-help, and cultural conditioning. These are phrases that I had never heard before! I soon learned that they meant changing and improving yourself. There was no way for anyone in my family to think that I’d do anything to come home soon after learning any of that. It’s 2020, and they are still doing the same things I was taught in 1981 at 5 years old.

On my first day in prison, in 1995, I was fighting a mental and emotional battle. I thought I could only win if I hurt myself or someone else. First, I hurt myself and that didn’t work. Then, I hurt someone else and that didn’t heal me either. Once the smoke cleared, I was being transferred to Pelican Bay State Prison, California, for assault with a deadly weapon. I had become the animal everyone said I was. I was no longer Tyrone Lee Toliver. I had become Inmate Toliver #H93393 AKA Lil No-Name Dog at the worst prison in California. I lived off other weak and afraid inmates because I received no visits, no letters, and no phone calls. I actually thought and felt that I had nothing to live for, so I was merely existing to die.

“I was back in the same building at Pelican Bay and forcing a guy to give me back my old cell. Things felt normal.”

Then, I was thrown a curve ball. I won my court battle for assault on an inmate with a weapon. I would be paroling in a month. How? I wondered. I thought it was a joke until I remembered that I didn’t actually have a life sentence; it just felt like it. My original sentence was 5 years. Now, I was even more angry and I didn’t even know why. As I left in September 1996, I told them to keep my bed warm.

A few months later, December 1996, I was back. By the following September, I was in the same building at Pelican Bay and forcing a guy to give me back my old cell. Things felt normal. I felt loved, supported, peaceful, and slightly happy. By now, I was better at hiding my animosity, hatred, and anger…

Ready for Part 2 of Tyrone Toliver’s Journey Behind Bars? Click here.

Don’t forget to send your incarcerated loved ones photos! You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

The Bigger Picture: Motivation

Pelipost is more than an app devoted to printing pictures for your incarcerated loved ones. We believe in the importance of family reintegration far exceeds the physical product in hand. REMAINING CONNECTED is the BIGGER PICTURE. 

In this second post in our two-part blog series we continue chatting with our co-founder, Becky Calderon, and explore the significant importance PRINTED photos had with motivation in mind. Make sure to check out Part 1 of the blog series also!

“Give me a reason to fight!”

-Becky Calderon

Preventing Recidivism From Prison

Did you know the United States has one of the highest recidivism rates in the world? Roughly 76% of our incarcerated loved ones return to prison within the first five years of their release. The reasons vary from person to person but here are some common reasons for recidivism:

  • Lack of Employment- due to criminal record or lack of employable skills
  • Incarceration doesn’t fix the addiction (trauma coping)
  • Mental Health & Wellness
  • Overwhelmed by Reintegration into Society
  • Influences and Lifestyle Choices

When I was in the maximum-security prison, I shared a cell with 8 other women. We were each in there for a variety of reasons but we all had one thing in common: Trauma. We are all suffering from some form of unspoken trauma rooted at the core of our identities. For some, these scenarios lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms (poor decision making, addiction, co-dependent relationships, etc) and if left unresolved continue to repeat themselves.

With that said, most of the incarcerated individuals I shared space with were familiar with life behind bars. It wasn’t their first experience and it wouldn’t be there last either. To my surprise, there were so many mothers sharing the same facility as their adult daughters. These families grow old together behind bars while their children and grandchildren await their return. Unfortunately, nothing changes when they are released so they return over and over again.

Photos Reminded Me of My Motivation

I remember vividly thinking: “I REFUSE to end up back in here and end my life on a negative note.” As much as photos validated my life outside of prison…. they also reminded me that I had a reason to fight for a better life once I was released.

The most painful day of my life wasn’t the day I was sentenced… it was actually the day of my son’s graduation from college. For me to be in prison on that day was the ultimate punishment. All his little life, I only had one goal! To see him succeed into adulthood and graduate college. Every little award ceremony, sports game, you name it…. I was in attendance taking photos and beaming with pride. To miss Joseph’s college graduation day was like MISSING THE ULTIMATE REWARD. Thus, you can imagine the importance having those photos from that day would have on my spirit.

Joe’s College Graduation with his Grandparents

I used pictures as the foundational reminder to do the WORK while I was doing my time. What is ‘Work’, you ask? There are countless programs, intensive support groups and resources available while you’re in prison. These programs are free but there is one stipulation: YOU HAVE TO WANT HELP to GET HELP! I remember one program that really made me deal with some heavy things from my past. I had to face my childhood trauma head on and it was painful. People don’t want to dig that deep because it hurts. If I wanted to get well and prepare for a healthy life outside of prison, I knew I needed to truly seek healing in my heart. Because of my son’s involvement (through photos, calls and visits) I remained motivated to use my time in prison to prepare for a healthier life outside. Some of my “cellies” didn’t have the same family support and their lack of motivation was a result. Without encouragement, nothing motivates them to change.

My Prison Story Led Me to Purpose

Do I regret my choices? Sure. However, looking back, I can honestly say I am grateful for my time in prison. It changed my life. Prison led me to even greater purpose. Without my prison experience, Joseph never would have had the idea for Pelipost. I wouldn’t be living the good, healthy, sober life I’m living now and for that I don’t regret a single day.

With that said, you might speculate that I just walked out of prison and lived happily ever after. That would be a lie. I got out in May and hit rock bottom by October. I was dealing with the consequences of my choices in real life and it hurt. My drinking returned, my marriage was unrepairable, and I was dependent on my parents to support me. The thing they don’t prepare you for with your release… is that you still COME OUT A FAILURE. Then again, thanks to the resources I received in prison… I knew I HAD TO MAKE A CHOICE and that rock-bottom moment was the most humbling, life-altering reminder that I was worth the fight! Seven years later… I’m living a life I never would have imagined in my wildest dreams. Your incarcerated loved one could be too, just encourage them to push through and do the WORK!

Don’t forget to send your incarcerated loved ones photos this holiday season! You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

The Bigger Picture: Validation

Pelipost is more than an app devoted to printing pictures for your incarcerated loved ones. We believe in the importance of family reintegration far exceeds the physical product in hand. REMAINING CONNECTED is the BIGGER PICTURE. 

In this two-part blog series we sat down with our very own co-founder, Becky Calderon, to explore the significant importance PRINTED photos had while incarcerated. 

“You feel like a failure at the time, you know your story has more to offer. You have to constantly remind yourself that prison doesn’t define my worth.”

– Becky Calderon

LIVING FOR PRISON MAIL CALL

When you’re in prison, all you have is time. You almost forget that life exists. You block it all out. You see the fences, you see the walls. You cope as best you can. With that said, there was one thing that kept us all rooted in hope for the future. MAIL CALL. We would LIVE FOR MAIL CALL. This is how we remained connected and informed with the world outside of our cell. We were all in prison for different reasons but unified by this longing to know we were more than our worst mistakes.

Letters were cherished but to receive an envelope with photos was the ultimate prize. Even just feeling the outside ridges of the envelope and knowing there was photos inside brought so much emotion… It’s hard to describe in words. I guess you could say, there was an unspoken understanding in there. We all simply longed for VALIDATION. Printed photos allowed our stories outside to come to life. We shared them, we celebrated, we mourned, we anticipated them with great excitement. It reminded us we are more than our current situation. We once had lives, passions, families, relationships, hobbies, skills, interests, stories that defined us outside of the prison walls. We are missed and treasured by others awaiting our release. 

CELEBRATING IN PRISON 

I shared a cell with 8 women, lovingly referred to as ‘cellies’. We each had different stories and reasons for their incarceration. Since we were in a maximum security facility… some stories were harder than others. One was an older woman. Her daughter had just given birth to her first grandchild. She was elated with the news and would beg for pictures of the new baby she would meet in the years to come. The new mom was so busy readjusting and overwhelmed with this new life that it took her so long to finally find the time to send her mom photos. When that day came…. We CELEBRATED alongside our cellie with great pride! It was as if the child’s arrival had just happened all over again for the first time.

MOURNING IN PRISON 

There was also a younger woman who had about 7 years remaining on her sentence. Her mother would come often and visit with her in the beginning of her sentence. She was older and unfortunately suffered a heart-related issue and wasn’t able to travel easily after that. This cellie LIVED for her mother’s visits. Once the mother’s visits stopped you can imagine how heartbreaking it was to her spirit. She would plead with her siblings… ‘send me pictures of MOM… I just want to see her face and know she’s alright’. I remember thinking ‘send this girl photos of her mother, she may not be alive when she gets out of here’. I hurt so badly for her. As a mother, I was fighting cancer inside the prison walls and understood the fear of leaving my son in an immediate way. 

VALUE YOUR INCARCERATED LOVED ONES

If you want your incarcerated loved ones to fight the staggering statistics of recidivism… INCLUDE THEM IN THEIR STORIES. VALIDATE their worth (outside of their poor choices). There was a cellie who had three children and five years remaining on her sentence. The problem was she kept getting into more and more trouble inside. I kept thinking ‘Don’t you even want to get out for your children?’ To be fair, she was never in her children’s lives to begin with… I used to pray that her family would include her in those kids lives and send her photos of them growing up. If only she communicated with them a little more often, I wonder if that wouldn’t have given her greater  purpose and hope for reconciling those relationships. 

PRINTED  PHOTOS GIVE HOPE

Sometimes customers assume we are disconnected from their stories and the struggles they face. I make sure to remind them of my own story and extend grace and understanding because incarceration is just so painful on so many levels. We care because WE KNOW HOW VITAL PHOTOS ARE in there! I want to bring that joy and validation because I felt that joy firsthand. When I finally got the picture of Joseph and that DAMN CAR (his first new car)… I was so happy! It plays such a huge part of our story. Little did we know at the time how incredible that printed photo would be to the future. Because of that photo, because of our separation, because of my worst mistakes… We now have this beautiful service impacting the lives of hundreds of thousands of families with incarcerated loved ones across the United States. 

That being said, the impact is tangible and it feels so good. We have customers that have sent over 70 orders during these past three years. To read their notes… ‘Thank you so much for your service. He’s out. We’re not going to need you anymore.’ This is why we do what we do with such pride and dedication to our customers. We see how powerfully important our service is to the future reintegration process of their loved ones.

Don’t forget to send your incarcerated loved ones photos this holiday season! You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Pelipost’s Origin

Pelipost is more than just an app for sending photos to your incarcerated loved ones.  Pelipost’s Origin is a story, much like your own. We are so excited to share our story with you in our new PeliPeople series! (Start from the beginning and read Becky’s Story Inside Incarceration here).

. . .

“We are two halves that make up the whole called Pelipost.”

-Joe Calderon

Creating a Solution Together

Growing up, I was in love with entrepreneurship and creative problem solving. I spent much of my college years exploring business start-up ideas in greater depth. Once my mom was released from prison, sober, and her cancer in remission, she could not wait to take on the world. We decided to take the leap of faith and launched Pelipost together.

In those early stages, I focused on the technical side of the business, as the Founder and CEO. My mom took care of fulfilling photo orders and back-end production tasks. Her 20+ years of managerial experience and awareness of life on the inside would become one of Pelipost’s greatest assets. My mom is now our Chief Operating Officer. She is responsible for overseeing our fulfillment staff, printing operations, and leads with utmost dedication.

Reintegration Success Story

Pelipost’s Origin story is not one-sided. We are two halves that make up the whole called Pelipost. Our collective perspectives, both locked up on the inside and living life on the outside, are used daily for a greater purpose (finding value in staying connected through every season of life). Pelipost believes in the BIGGER PICTURE… remaining connected with your incarcerated loved ones and believing in their story, just as much as you believe in ours.

Pelipost's Origin - Joe & Becky Calderon
Joe & Becky in front of Pelipost Headquarters

“I truly believe that what makes us successful is that you HAVE to have experienced the need, the joy, the overall meaning of what you are doing by providing this service. I know that what makes us successful is that our heart is in it because the single most important thing I learned is that although we are incarcerated, we are still alive and want to feel included in people’s lives on the outside. And I truly believe that it is by letters and photos. So when we provide this service, I know the joy they are feeling inside. I also know the struggle they are feeling outside trying to find time to send photos and not feel bad because they did not find the time. I know because I was there and I keep that in mind always.”

– Becky Calderon

Want to read more of the our PeliPeople Series? Sign-up for the Pelipost email newsletter! You will first to be to notified once we release the next part of our story!

Don’t forget to send your incarcerated loved ones photos this holiday season! You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.