Updated: Mar 6
But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
When the day comes for the baby eaglet to leave the nest and learn to fly, the mother eagle starts removing the soft feathers in the nest to make it a little uncomfortable. Then one day, when she feels like the eaglet is ready she gently pushes the eaglet out over the side of the nest. When the eaglet begins to free fall from the top of the nest... which is usually high on the summit of a mountain. He knows if he doesn't do something quick, he is headed straight down to the ground. So he quickly begins flapping his wings. In sheer desperation, he begins doing something new that he had never done before. It is evident that because he has never had this experience before, it is awkward, scary and extremely uncomfortable. This stretches the eaglet way out of the comfort he has previously known in the soft warm nest.
On his way down, the eaglet begins flapping his wings as hard and fast as he can in hopes that he will fly. For the first time, he has to depend upon himself for survival. However, his mother is never too far away and allows him to drop close to the bottom while watching him flap his wings with all his might. She knows that this is a necessary part of the process of growth, strength, and maturity. When the eaglet reaches close to the bottom, she swoops down and grabs him with her beak and carries him back to the top. She then pushes him over and over until he is capable of flying on his own. He is learning to build his wings on the way down.
The students in the KPM Leadership Academy are experiencing this same thing! We are gently pushing them out of their comfort zone in preparation to fly. While many feel like they are afraid as they experience free-falling, we are helping them overcome this fear and many insecurities while they begin building strength, character and confidence. Just like the mother eagle, we are so proud as we watch them gain momentum and fly high in their personal growth and development!
The vision for the KPM Leadership Academy behind the wire veterans program is to raise up veteran leaders within a prison unit to lead and positively influence others in their thinking and behavioral changes.
Once veteran students are trained in our academy and qualify as leaders they reach out into the general population. This is proven to be an effective strategy as young men who have previously had, negative influences, no role models or direction now have role models within the prison they can look up to. This promotes a new opportunity to learn about character, discipline, commitment and the honor code of the military.
This prototype has proven to be quite successful. Those young men that have had little to no mentoring are being imparted into by men who have faithfully served our country and have made positive changes in themselves during their time incarcerated. They are able to share about the love of country and exemplify and explain why and what it means to be a servant leader and true meaning of patriotism.
We want to introduce you to Matthew who is one of our students that is being mentored by a veteran leader and is building his wings and soaring high. He recently graduated from the "Beyond Success" course in our program. Each week we give an award called "The Rising Eagle Award" to the student who has risen high above his circumstances and gone over and above in exemplifying the action step in the lesson that week. Because of Matthew's drive and determination, he was chosen as one of our "Rising Eagles" recipients. He also was chosen as one of our student speakers at the graduation. We were so blessed by his speech that we wanted to share it with you. Listen to what he had to share that day.
Over the past few months, I've had the opportunity to share the ups and downs of my life and listen to the challenges of my peers. I've come to realize that while our current situations are very similar, our journey and views towards success are vastly different.
As each week passed in the academy, I became more and more vulnerable and open. I became willing to expose my many failures and disappointments in my life while painfully discovering what led to multiple poor decisions. With stern discussions and strong support within my group, I now feel more equipped to battle life's winding roads. I now have discovered that my desire to change has become my biggest change. This is the biggest change I have ever made in my life. In the past, I've always been very closed off, self-centered, and narrow-minded. This ultimately led to the destruction of promising relationships and missed work opportunities.
I have recently found that it takes a lot of courage, work, and support to achieve and maintain success. This personal growth that I have experienced in the KPM Leadership Academy has helped cultivate relationships that once were broken. It has helped heal the wounds of the past that left me hopeless and in complete despair.
I sincerely appreciate everyone who has contributed to helping me see promise for hope now in my present and in my future. My group facilitator and group members have played an integral role in helping me to forge ahead each day and every week. Kent and Priscilla I want to thank you both for all that you have done. Your commitment and constant words of encouragement mean more than you know.
I want to close with what you have taught me and that I now live by every day:
What I think is what I say; What I say is what I do; What I do is who I become;
I AM TRANSFORMED!