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A Success Stories Story

August 17, 2015
Guest Blog By: Lirisi ‘Bless’ Arzu

My name is Lirisi Arzu. I am 26 years old and I was a participant in Success Stories. The group in itself was a delight. It’s probably the only self-help program tailor-made for millenials (in prison). It is a fusion of business and therapy, which is just the right blend for both social and economic success.

A lot of us have been traumatized by what we’ve seen and experienced in life. This group gave us the outlet to express our thoughts and emotions about those situations. How they molded/impacted our lives and what was needed to be done in order for us to turn our lives around. The therapeutic aspect of the course definitely delved deep into core problems. That’s something a lot of us, especially I, have never done before. Not to mention the group’s full-hearted belief in self-employment.

The second phase taught us all about business. It talks about raising capital, how to formulate a business plan, down to the marketing. But, it’s much more than that. It teaches you how to budget your money and how to invest in stocks. Like I said earlier, it’s the perfect blend for social and economic success. The only requirement is that you need to want to change and do something positive not just for those dependent on you but for yourself.

I personally believe that this group should be incorporated in every prison and inner-city high school in the nation because everybody deserves a chance to succeed in this game we call life.


Lirisi ‘Bless’ Arzu is a DJ and Success Stories graduate. He is being released and deported to Belize in March 2016. Contact him on Facebook or via email.

Life C.Y.C.L.E. to Success Stories

I was the chairman of a program named Life C.Y.C.L.E. (Careless Youths Corrected by Lifers’ Experiences) where we were mentors to the younger inmates that were serving time along with us lifers in Soledad State Prison. So many of us lifers had missed out on being a father to our own kids because of our own selfish behaviors and ways that landed us in prison some 20 to 30 years ago, so now was the chance for many of us to right our wrongs and the pain and suffering that was caused by our poor decisions so many years ago. In this mentoring program we adopted these young men as our own and shared with them the knowledge and wisdom we have so they will not have to pay the price we did.

Jay Dunn/The Salinas Californian

Jay Dunn/The Salinas Californian

A young man went through the program and totally changed his lifestyle from a gang banger to a positive leader figure because he was willing to listen to elders and apply the tools that were shared with him. This young man, Richard, was given the opportunity to create his own program under the Life C.Y.C.L.E. umbrella which is named Success Stories. The facilitators in SS were right on point with their deliverance and Life C.Y.C.L.E. and the elders of the group were now learning from a youngster’s perspectives so the roles were now reversed. Life C.Y.C.L.E. covered topics such as upbringing, childhood, education, respecting authority, job interviews, job search, gangs, drugs, etc. But now Success Stories spoke and taught on subjects such as the stock market, filing taxes, enrolling into college, banking system, etc. And all of this came from the ideals of a once troubled youth who was caught up in the lifestyle of gangs, but given the opportunity this young man captured a lot of people’s attention. I did everything in my power as chairman of Life C.Y.C.L.E. to make sure Success Stories had their own space and place to meet.

Unknowingly this relationship I developed with Richard lead me to becoming a member of DPN! It’s really amazing how things work. I know iron sharpens iron, so I look forward in doing the work that’s ahead of us. And I know we will grow stronger and stronger!