Joe’s Story Outside Incarceration (Pt. 2)

Pelipost is more than just an app for sending photos to your incarcerated loved ones. Pelipost has a story, much like your own. We are so excited to share our story with you in our new PeliPeople series! This is part one of Joe’s Story Outside Incarceration. (Read about Becky’s Story Inside Incarceration here).

. . .

“I did my best to keep her spirits up.”

-Joe Calderon

My New Reality

Shortly after my mom’s sentencing, she was transferred from the county jail to a state prison. I realized this was my new reality. A reality that many people often only see on TV shows or documentaries. The instant communication that I had enjoyed all my life with mom, was taken away. Our chats were reduced to letters and bi-weekly 20 minute phone calls. I cherished those brief phone calls. I would highlight what was happening on the outside, and learn what was happening with her on the inside. I did my best to keep her spirits up.

Visitation was the hardest challenge. When a loved one is incarcerated, no one gets a say on which facility they go to. The corrections system doesn’t care that you want your loved one to be close for visitation. It doesn’t care where your nearest family member lives. That’s exactly what happened to my mom.

My mom ended up in Chowchilla, CA, which was an 8 hour drive in the middle of nowhere. There were no major airports in the area so flying was out of the question. My only option was to drive. Visitation hours started at 9am on Sundays. In order to maximize my visitation time, I had to leave my house in San Diego, CA at 1 AM. It was hard. It was long. But I knew I had to do it. I made this drive as often as I could. I knew WITHOUT A DOUBT in my heart, my mom would have done the same for me.

Her Condition Revealed

I didn’t know my mom’s cancer had returned while she was in prison. I found out during one of our Sunday morning visits. I had my suspicions when my mom tried to persuade me not to visit her. I knew that she was only trying to protect me and keep me focused on my studies. I remember seeing my mom walk out into the visitation room, looking so frail and thin from the radiation treatment she had recently undergone. I tried my hardest to hold back my tears. Despite the physical toll the treatment took on my mom, she still had a smile on her face when she saw me.

Joe and Becky during Visitation. Joe's Story Outside Incarceration
Joe and Becky during Visitation. Joe’s Story Outside Incarceration

It was after the visit, and after seeing my mom in that frail state, that I came to face the strong possibility that my mom could die in prison. During her treatment, I felt helpless. It drove me crazy that I had no control over when I could see her, or even be there for her procedures. Knowing that she was being transported to her doctor in a prison van instead of taking her myself, was difficult to swallow. Even though I couldn’t be there physically, I never stopped supporting my mom and always kept a positive attitude when I spoke to her on the phone.

Thankfully, she beat the cancer, and was scheduled for release six months later. It was during this time that we would discover the need for a photo sharing service to stay connected with incarcerated loved ones…

Discovering a Need

During the last six months of my mom’s sentence, I graduated from college, landed a great job and bought myself my first car (Chrysler 300) as a graduation present.  During our brief phone calls, I would tell my mom about all these things going on in my life. She would always say, “Son, send me pictures of your car!” I would always respond, “I will, mom.” However, between my new job, caring for my grandparents, and life demands, I’d keep forgetting to run to the store to print and mail them out. 

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. It would be so much easier to stay connected with my mom.’ The idea stuck with me and upon my mom’s release, we got down to business and launched a mobile app called Pelipost…

Beck and Joe. Joe's Story Outside Incarceration
Becky and Joe. Joe’s Story Outside Incarceration

There’s more to our story! Sign-up for the Pelipost email newsletter below to be 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.

Pelipost Gives Back

Happy Holidays, Pelipost Friends!

We’re working hard behind the scenes preparing for all of your upcoming photo orders. Be sure to upload your photos quickly so they will arrive in time for the holidays. You can download the Pelipost app through the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. With that said, in the spirit of the giving season, we have some BIG NEWS! We’re excited to announce the Pelipost Gives Back efforts that we’ll be organizing for this Giving Tuesday!

Pelipost Gives Back

Pelipost will donate $500 to (3) charitable organizations and each will receive (25) Love Never Gives Up bracelets from our Love Your Inmate Day Collection. These organizations will be nominated by YOU and MUST serve families of incarcerated loved ones. In addition to our $500 donations, Pelipost will be donating a portion of sales from every photo order placed on GIVING TUESDAY (December 3).

We need your help!

We’re depending on YOU to help us find these charitable organizations. Please take a moment to NOMINATE YOUR FAVORITE CHARITY in the form below. We’ll be announcing the 3 winning charities on Giving Tuesday, December 3rd.

Fill out my online form.

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.

Becky’s Story Inside Incarceration (Pt. 2)

Pelipost has just launched a new series devoted to the stories of those impacted inside and outside of incarceration called PeliPeople. In honor of that, we began this series by sharing our founder’s stories first. This is part two of Becky’s Story Inside Incarceration…. (get caught up with part one here)

. . .

‘I decided to use my time in prison to get my life right… for good.’

-Becky Calderon

The day of my sentencing and at the peak of my alcoholism, I arrived at the courthouse drunk. My lawyer had all but guaranteed I’d get house arrest. With that being said, there was still a slight possibility of prison time. In the back of my mind, I remembered thinking ‘No worries, they always give you time to surrender after sentencing.’ I walked in, faced the judge, and the lawyers pled my case. I received a 3-year prison sentence. To my shock, they ordered me into immediate custody. That morning, I walked out of my home expecting to return and never did.

Becky's Story Inside Incarceration - Becky and Joe Pre-Prison Sentencing.
Becky and Joe Before Sentencing – Becky’s Story Inside Incarceration (Pt. 2)

Joe did not attend my hearing because he was away at college. When taken into custody, all I could think about was not being given the chance to hug and hold my son. I just wanted to reassure him that everything would be fine. This truly drove me insane during the first few days of incarceration. Until my first phone call with Joe, I could then (mentally) settle in and begin doing my time. My boy still loved me, that was exactly what I needed to hear in order to face what was ahead. 

The Burden of My Choices

Once in prison, all of the burden was left on Joe and my parents. He moved my stuff out of my home and handled all the loose ends I had unknowingly left behind. It was a lot of pressure on him. He was just beginning his adult life and now he faced a whole new load of responsibilities, I never wanted him to carry. This fueled my purpose and while incarcerated, I decided to use my time in prison to get my life right… for good. I joined every support and resource group available. This sentencing was a huge lesson for me. All the time I had been given would be used to reflect and learn from everything and everybody around me. 

The biggest way that my life changed in prison was that the rushing stopped. For the first time, in soooo many years, I had to simply stop, be with myself, my thoughts, and think about my life. I began to understand and respect the word ‘PATIENCE’ in a whole new light. I had been diagnosed with cancer for the past two decades at this point and I always felt rushed. Rushed to fit in ALL MY LIFE in as little time as possible. ‘Hurry, we need to go here, we need to do this, go there, get that… Hurry, I don’t have much time left to live.’ Prison doesn’t care if you have cancer or if you have less time to live than someone else. You wait in line for everything… PERIOD

Living in a Box

Once the fear of being incarcerated passed, it simply became a way of life. I started to see that a person can live in a box and make it work. Because of my ongoing health needs, I was sentenced to Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla, a maximum security prison which housed everyone from white collar to violent offenders.

This new slower way of life taught me how to be patient, how to be present, and take the time I DO have to enjoy or at least observe what is going on in each moment. I love the word ‘PATIENCE’ now. By staying in touch through letters, visits, phone calls and photos, my friends and family helped tremendously in keeping my spirits up while incarcerated.

Being on the inside, we had nothing to keep us ticking… until…MAIL CALL. The excitement and value you feel when you receive a letter from someone on the outside is unlike anything else. It gives you a boost of strength to know that you are thought about and you are still connected with the outside world.

Letters are great surprises during mail call, however the real MVP is receiving photos. To receive pictures from home was a celebration in the cell. 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. I am just here because of circumstances, but I won’t be forever.’ Things you don’t think about, until you’re digitally disconnected from your loved ones.

The Worst Day In Prison

During my incarceration, my cancer took an ugly turn for the worst. I needed to go to the hospital to get radiation doses and it did not look good for me. Joe knew nothing about my condition because this was occurring during his finals week. I didn’t want that news to impact or distract him from his studies. I did, however, confide in his dad so if something were to happen he would be ready to handle things accordingly.

The worst day of my life was my son’s college graduation date. I was laying in a hospital bed in prison, painfully sick from radiation treatment, and my family and friends were out celebrating Joe’s college graduation day without me. I’ve never felt more alone. I don’t know why I didn’t die that day. Thankfully, my life kept pushing forward fueled by my love for my son. 

Shortly after Joe’s graduation, I made it out of the hospital and went back to lock-up. During this time, Joe had so many positive things going on in his life. He had just landed a great job and bought his first brand new car for his graduation present. When he’d call to catch up, he would tell me about all things happening and I would say ‘Son, send me pictures. I want to see your new car!’ and he’d say ‘I will, mom. I will.’ Next week, we’d talk and I’d say ‘Son, send me pictures of your new car!’ and he’d say ‘Aww man, mom. I’m sorry, I keep forgetting, things have been so busy. I promise. I’ll get to it.’ At some point, he realized there had to be an easier way for people to send photos to their incarcerated loved ones.


The photo that started it all. Joe and his new car. Becky's Story Inside Incarceration (Pt. 2)
The photo that started it all: Joe and his new car. Becky’s Story Inside Incarceration (Pt. 2)

Life After Prison

When I was released from prison, Joe was still contemplating this problem and wanting to develop a better solution for sending photos. I said ‘Well son, I’m alive, I believe in you, and if this is where my path leads, then let’s do this.’ Having firsthand experience, I understood how it felt to receive photos from the outside. Witnessing the joy that photos of children and grandchildren brought their incarcerated loved ones was PRICELESS.

Our success is due to our entire experience. You HAVE to have experienced the need, the joy, the overall meaning of what you are doing to provide a service of this nature. What makes us successful is that our heart is in it. The most important thing I learned during my time in prison was that although we are incarcerated, we are still alive, and want to feel included in people’s lives on the outside.

And this is what Pelipost provides: an ability to keep families easily connected with their incarcerated loved ones through photos. We do it because we get it, and we truly do care! This makes us work harder to get things done right.

Sign-up for the Pelipost email newsletter! You will first to be to notified once we release the next part of our story soon!

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.

Joe’s Story Outside Incarceration (Pt. 1)

Pelipost is more than just an app for sending photos to your incarcerated loved ones.  Pelipost has a story, much like your own. We are so excited to share our story with you in our new PeliPeople series! This is part one of Joe’s Story Outside Incarceration. (Read about Becky’s Story Inside Incarceration here)

. . .

“I didn’t know what the hell to do.  It wasn’t just my mom who’d be doing time, but me as well.  We were officially in the system together. ”

-Joe Calderon

Growing up in San Diego in the 1980’s the Calderon family lived the picturesque American Dream.  Happy marriage, good careers, new cars, and a beautiful home. In January of 1989, they joyfully welcomed their first child, Joseph into their lives.  Sadly, the joys of parenthood became shattered a month after Joseph was born, Becky received a terminal cancer diagnosis. Doctors told her she would be lucky to live to see me turn 5. 

Childhood Before Incarceration

Toddler Joe. Joe's Story Outside Incarceration
Toddler Joe & his parents. Joe’s Story Outside Incarceration

As my mom fought her way through surgeries, chemo, and intense radiation, she decided to devote what time she had remaining to provide me with the best childhood she could offer. It was full of fun, birthday parties, family vacations, playing sports, and lots of love.

Sadly, as the years passed, life’s struggles took a toll on my family. This included financial hardships, losing our home during the Great Recession, and the collapse of my parents’ 21-year marriage. On top of that, my mom’s legal troubles lead her to a battle with alcoholism as she tried to drink her circumstances away. 

Mom Sentenced to Prison

In October 2010, our family endured the ultimate hardship. My mom (Becky) arrived to a San Diego courthouse for what she believed would be a sentencing of house arrest only to find out she wouldn’t be returning home. Her lawyer promised she would receive a lenient sentencing because she had never been in trouble before and she committed a “white-collared crime”.  To our shock and surprise, the Judge sentenced her to 3 years in prison and ordered her immediately incarcerated. On the outside, I was in complete disbelief that my mom was really going to prison.

I was away at college and had little knowledge of the legal system. I wasn’t expecting my mom to end up in prison, especially before I could say goodbye, give her a big hug, and tell her it was going to be okay.

Families End Up In The Prison System Together

Joe and Becky during Visitation. Joe's Story Outside Incarceration
Joe and Becky during Visitation. Joe’s Story Outside Incarceration

My world instantly changed and I felt an ENORMOUS amount of pressure and stress.  I didn’t know what the hell to do. It wasn’t just my mom who’d be doing time, but me as well.  We were officially in the system together. I literally woke up one day with everything being “normal”and going to bed with my world completely in chaos. 

Shortly after going into custody, they relocated my mom to California’s Central Women’s Facility in Chowchilla CA (8 hours away). Her cancer had returned while incarcerated and she required a facility with a full medical ward to continue her treatment. This was the beginning of one of the hardest challenges my mom and I would ever endure…

Want to read more about Joseph’s Story Outside Incarceration? Sign-up for the Pelipost email newsletter! You will first to be to notified once we release the next part of our story soon!

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.

  

Becky’s Story Inside Incarceration (Pt. 1)

Pelipost is launching a new series devoted to the stories of those impacted inside and outside of incarceration called PeliPeople. In honor of this series launch we are sharing our own story first

A message from our CEO: Joseph Calderon

If there is one truth I can share with you, it is this:  there is redemption and success on the other side of doing time.  Our story is proof. Pelipost was founded in 2015 by myself, Joe Calderon, and my mom, Becky. We truly believe our success wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for our personal experiences of one, having an incarcerated loved one; and two, BEING an incarcerated loved one.  Most don’t know the story that led to the start of Pelipost and we believe now is the greatest time to share. So we will begin here with: Becky’s Story Inside Incarceration.

The Beginning of it All

“When you feel the weight of reality that each year may be your last… You fight for your life, as best as you can.”

– Becky Calderon

Imagine with me for a moment… You’re married and just gave birth to your first child. Life is good. Motherhood is magical. You have this beautiful little baby and you can’t help but dream of what life will look like with your family in 10, 20, 50 years even. THEN… your baby is one month old and you’re in the doctor’s office being given the heaviest news of your life. This is where my story begins, thankfully, this is not where my story ends. 

Becky's Story Inside Incarceration. Becky with Joe, as a baby.
Becky and Baby Joe. Becky’s Story Inside Incarceration

In February of 1989, one month after my son’s (Joseph) birth, I received a terminal cancer diagnosis. All of my hopes of one day having a big family came to an end that day. Another pregnancy would end my life, so Joe was an instant only child. The doctors didn’t expect me to live past Joe’s kindergarten year. Am I now ever so grateful they were wrong. I spent the next 12 years going through 13 surgeries, radiation, chemo, fighting for my life. I did all of this while also juggling motherhood, marriage, and work. It was not an easy journey, but it was worth it.

When you feel the weight of reality that each year may be your last… You fight for your life, as best as you can. At least, in my case, I did. I decided that my son was going to remember me no matter what. It was my ultimate purpose to give him the best childhood any kid could ask for. 

The Cancer Returns

The cancer came back during Joe’s middle school years. In my desperation to provide a more memorable experience for my family in my ‘last days’, I made some poor decisions. These choices would result in a shortcut to fund a higher quality of life. We started taking more vacations, buying gifts, trying to create as many happy memories as possible. It took about 5 years before my choices caught up to me. 

By the time everything came out, Joseph was in his first year of college. Contrary to my doctor’s prognosis, I had lived way past his kindergarten graduation at this point, and the life I had funded in those earlier, memorable, years had finally caught up to me. We lost our home during the recession. My marriage had collapsed. The body I was given, wouldn’t stop failing me. Legal troubles were overflowing and I became an alcoholic. Thank God, Joe’s dad was the best dad in the world and remained Joe’s rock through it all. 

Grave Before the Gavel

From charge to sentencing, the process took roughly three years. I just wanted to die, at that point. During those three long years, life was an intoxicated blur. In my mind, I thought I kept it all hidden and concealed from Joe, but he was too smart for that. Even still, he never turned his back on me. He couldn’t comprehend the powerless battle I was fighting with cancer, coupled with the disease of alcoholism. However, he never stopped encouraging me to fight with all I had. He knew I loved him more than life but I was losing the perseverance to stay in the game.

I kept putting off my court dates and delaying the inevitable. In reality, I was expecting to meet the grave before meeting the judge’s gavel. For some reason, my life kept ticking. What Joe and I didn’t realize, at the time, was how prison would completely save my life, instead of helping to end it…

Becky's Story Inside InCarceration-   
Becky and Joe at his High School Graduation.
Becky and Joe at his high school graduation. Becky’s story Inside Incarceration

Want to read more about Becky’s Story Inside Incarceration? Sign-up for the Pelipost email newsletter! You will first to be to notified once we release the next part of our story soon!

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.