When I joined Straight Talk, I wondered what I had to offer to anyone, since I was an ex-con and a recovering drug addict. Then I began to speak out. I realized that this Program was one where I could use all of my negative experiences to help the kids know how “not fun” the end result of committing crimes could be.

I also came to realize that through talking to the kids, it gave my life purpose and I began to heal and forgive myself. I became whole again and was able to grow emotionally, which allowed me to develop a renewed sense of purpose.

Without Straight Talk, I would still be sulking and ashamed and never moved from living in self pity to being a proud citizen of my community!!! I learned that I am valuable.

- Beverly Locke, Motivational Speaker and Administrative Assistant


I got out of prison in 1994 and was referred to Phyllis McNeal from my parole officer in Inglewood Ca. I was skeptical and didn’t think that there was a single thing I could offer to her program : Straight Talk. Yet, I was surprised to learn how valuable my message and my past experience is to any youth who is going down the path I have lived. I'd never considered intervention before until I was introduced to the Straight Talk Program. The program offered me reassuring skills to many youth the questions on how to make it on the inside of incarceration to reinventing their new way of living upon getting out. It’s been very rewarding in giving back to the community and especially to at-risk youth who need to know that someone cares and that they not alone. The STP has kept the drive in me over the 15 plus years to continue to keep reaching out my hand to the youth. I’m truly grateful for Ms. McNeal and her program and helping me to become a help mate in a society I once took advantage of.

- Phillip E. Wilson

 My name is Marissa Jones, and I have the pleasure of having Ms. Phyllis McNeal being directly involved in my life since my early teenage years. I am now residing in Sacramento, married with three kids and running our family business.

Nothing comes by luck in life, and me and my mom were blessed to meet Phyllis through a mutual friend on the tournament circuit. As a kid that had tremendous drive to win, and motivation to want to reach my full potential, my current fighting skills were nowhere near what I felt inside they could be. Being a quiet and shy kid, my mom knew there was something we had to change. Along came Phyllis McNeal, open arms, spending evenings after work, Saturday mornings, Sunday afternoons with this little kid she didn’t even know and dedicated countless hours to training. Although, our sessions were physically grueling, the mental lessons that she was teaching me are priceless, and to this day I have continued to instill in my children.

Karate, back when I was a kid didn’t seem to be the coolest thing to do as a hobby. So imagine how mortified I would be twice a week, to have to go to a recreation center and train in front of other kids! Did Phyllis care, nope! Her concern was making me out to be the best fighter in my age group regionally and nationally. At various times through the pain of being kicked too hard, or punched in the eye when rules stated “No head contact”, she was right next to me, “SUCK IT UP!”. This is a saying that has stuck with me to the present day. This is the attitude I carry in my heart when times seem too overwhelming and no end in sight. I can only try to express in words how much of a positive influence she has fully had on my life. This small show of appreciation that I am trying to convey had no measure of the real impact that is felt.

Days that she dedicated to training me, seemed to be just another private karate lesson at the time. Looking back as an adult, that was far from the case. The discipline, respect, and work ethic that was bring taught at the time and not directly communicated, has helped shaped a strong, confident wife, mother and manager!

-Marissa Jones

Success, Transcending through Progress

The Straight Program is forever forging onward and striving to leave no-one behind. It's founder Phyllis McNeals' dream is to reach out to those with challenges and help them to realize their God given abilities, gifts and potentials and create a pathway to a better way of life. "The Journey Begins from Within."  The Straight Talk Program helped us by providing the tools and resources needed to overcome our challenges and achieve success in life. "When It comes to the worth of self, the only one in control is YOU."

- Julie Jones