Kristopher DeShawn: PeliPALS Story

It’s hard to know what life is like for the incarcerated. At Pelipost, we believe in the importance of sharing the experience of incarceration by bringing our PeliPALS’ stories to light. Today, we bring you Kristopher DeShawn’s story in his own words.

My name is Kristopher DeShawn. I am 34 years old and have been incarcerated since 2005. With this being the first time in this situation, the biggest things that enabled me to survive and work my way from a level 4 maximum security prison, to now a minimum level 2 is the ability to adapt and be aware. Also, I’ve never lost sight of the fact that I have goals, people, and family to work myself back to.

Furthermore, I know I’m not defined by this situation. Now, I’m a mature adult male. I finally reached the growth and obtained and identity of which I’ve never had, with multiple negatives in my life, a life sentence, and the possibility to never leave these walls, I could’ve self-destructed.

“I’m no longer a person that just exists- I know I have a purpose.”

Kristopher DeShawn, PeliPAL

I have fully embraced my faith (Islam,) graduated from high school, obtained an Associate’s Degree in social and behavioral science, and utilized all self-help / cognitive restructuring tools / classes, so now my manner is one who is constantly evolving. I’m no longer a person that just exists- I know I have a purpose. While I continuously make strides in life, I also strive to impact others and not to be so stereotyped and also to be around like-minded individuals.

What also gets me through my day-to-day is that I write poems, short stories, and read. I’m an athlete, enjoy music, and constantly make it apparent to my mom and younger siblings that I’m still vital to their lives and I love them and vice-versa. As a bonus, I have nieces and nephews now and I’m grateful for the role in their lives, plus they know who their uncle is.

What I look forward to the most from my family is first knowing they are alive every day. Then with that, the phone calls, greeting cards, visits, and photos that let me know that they care, but also that they enjoy life. To have the opportunity to listen to their problems, issues, whatever is going on because I care about them. All of the above things my friends and family do and keep my spirits high. With this, praying, and remaining diligent, every day I wake up I feel blessed.

For now, I wait for my time to impact the world from the outside and not from within a cell. To also show the man I’ve become that my family and friends are proud of. Thank you.

-Kristopher DeShawn

What is it like spending Christmas in prison?

The holidays can be a particularly difficult time for those of us who have a loved one who is incarcerated. We miss our loved ones and might find ourselves wondering what the holidays will be like for them, or if it’s even possible to have a merry Christmas while in jail or prison.
Pelipost’s Co-Founder and COO, Becky shared her experience along with valuable perspective on how families can provide support by sharing their holiday celebrations with their loved ones on the inside.

What are the holidays really like on the inside?

It was definitely not ignored, like just another day. Christmas was big- as big as it can be in there. We would get toilet paper or stuff like that and we would try and make snowflakes out of it and decorate our windows and stuff like that. It’s simply amazing what just using your imagination you can do to get into the Christmas spirit and to feel like you’re bringing it in to yourself so that you can celebrate it, because it’s still a celebration. You still want to celebrate the holidays.

You prepare for your Christmas meal. You start when you have canteen, and you buy your products. And who is going to do what- “I’m in charge of the cheesecake,” “Who’s in charge of this?” It’s like a little potluck that you create, trying very hard to maintain the spirit. And for an evening, for Christmas Eve, for Christmas Day, you try really hard to just separate yourself from where you’re at.

One thing that we did when we wanted to do something special was sharing of the mail we had received that previous year, anything special that we wanted to share. And we had a bunch of letters and that kept us all busy. So sharing our pictures, sharing just where we were, where our families were. “What news did you have of your family?” “What has changed?” Christmas was really a time to sit, eat, and reflect. Everyone knew it was Christmas. We celebrated it, and just made it joyful, as joyful as you can while you’re in there.

How can photos help bring the outside in?

A few weeks before Christmas and the holidays, holiday parties start happening, family gatherings start happening. Scenery, Christmas lights on the house, things that you take for granted. You’re driving by and you see- “Oh wow, that house is really decorated.” The street that you used to cruise by that’s filled with Christmas lights, all those things are things that you can still share. Things like that- those photos can be used to decorate the room because they’re lights.

They bring new life, they bring Christmas in to us. When you see a decoration or anything like that that you think, “oh, this would bring a smile to so-and-so’s face,” take a picture of these moments and send them in. Because if they’re lucky enough to put them up and share them, they bring so much joy and they almost take us out of the cell we’re in and remind us of wherever it was that these events were taking place.

In the back of your mind- yes, of course you wish you were there. But to see the joy being shared, and to see pictures of grandma holding a baby, or granddad with all the kids trying to play football, or any kind of moments that are happening out there, you’re happy for your family. You’re happy for the people that are out there. And to me, it brought me joy to see the people out there and how they were sharing within family and friends and how beautiful it is- beautiful memories.

Watch our full interview with Becky on our YouTube channel here.

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 is Thanksgiving celebrated in jail or prison?

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 our 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.

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.

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

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 

Jonathan Mayer: PeliPALS Story

Dear Pelipost Company,  

Hello there – I hope that the entire staff are doing well. This may come as a surprise, because this is simply just a letter. I know it’s a bit unorthodox, but I really wanted to send you all a letter, and simply say thank you. Your business makes it very easy for my friends and family to send me pictures, and that is a huge blessing. 

You recently sent out a flyer with a picture of the staff holding up signs saying, “Happy Love Your Inmate Day!” with a very touching message in the back. It’s nice to know the story of your company, and know that you understand firsthand how important it is to get mail/pictures when you’re doing time. Unless you experience it first hand, you could never fully understand the heartbreak in a person’s face when they go to the mail call, and at the end, their name is not called. It’s a heartbreaking sight— like you said in your flyer, even though we are incarcerated, we are still human, and still have feelings. We most definitely still want to feel connected and included to the outside world. COVID has infected the entire world, and the impacts are felt in here. We have been on COVID lockdown for over a year and half now. The first year with no visits allowed. They do allow visits now, but it’s no contact and six feet apart with a face mask. With the Delta variant going around, we could go back to no visitation at all very soon, thus making receiving pictures at mail time so important. 

I have been down for over ten years now. With that much time down people on the outside tend to draft away. It’s an out of sight, out of mind sort of thing. Mail calls for me have been slim to none lately, and it honestly has had me down these past couple of weeks. Between worrying about the pandemic and my parents’ health out there, and being locked up with no mail coming in, I was in my feelings in a bad way. Then last week, I received your flyer for Love Your Inmate Day, with the teaching message and the group photo. It honestly touched me, and I’m not afraid to share that it made me shed a few tears— of joy of course.

Your flyer let me know I was not “forgotten” by the outside world— even as corny as that sounds. So, thank you from the bottom of my heart to the entire Pelipost company and staff, know that you all are doing a great thing and making positive impacts. You make us feel that we are still human, and that we still matter. Though we all made mistakes to land us in here — our mistakes do not define who we are. There is always a bigger story. Thank you again everyone, I truly hope you and all your families are doing well and staying healthy. By the way, thank you for letting me share what was on my heart.

Take care and keep smiling.

Always, 

Johnny

“A man is so much more than his worst mistake.” 

Roman Mendez: PeliPALS Story

Hello Pelipost,

My name is Roman Mendez, and I want to start off by saying thank you! Your service is one of a kind, and I love it. I would be glad to share my story with you all. 

When I was 21 years old, I made a very poor choice and robbed a bank. I had just become a father to my now 8-year-old son, and the pressure of needing to provide for him along with my immature mindset led me to prison. I have been incarcerated since 2016, and during this time I have matured and educated myself as well. I have obtained two associate degrees, one in Business Management and the other in Welding Technology. My support system has been my motivation, and I’ve learned to value the ones who love me. My family helps me get through the hard times — from the visits with my kids to the pictures I receive through PeliPALS. 

My advice to someone experiencing incarceration is to have a productive job that allows you to learn and pass time, take classes and educate yourself, and stay focused on keeping a positive mindset. My advice to the friends and family on the outside would be to just support your loved one, tell them you miss them, and encourage them to use their time wisely. 

Thank you, Pelipost.

-Roman Mendez