Nothing stops a bullet like a job…that’s the modo at Homeboy Industries. I had the honor or meeting with Father Gregory (or as the homeboy’s call him “Father G” or simply “G”) of Homeboy Industries to discuss a possible project with this unbelievable organization. They not only offer jobs in their bakery, cafe and silk screening departments. They offer job placement, tattoo removal, case management, legal services, mental health (parenting classes, relationship building, AA, NA), curriculum and education.
This is Father Gregory (“G”). In the brief time I spent with him, he proved to be the real deal. His office wasn’t tucked away in the back where he can hide from the MANY people that want to speak with him. As you walk into Homeboy Industries his office with walls of glass is positioned so he can see everything, and more importantly, everyONE that walks in the door.
Our visit started off with a delicious lunch at HOMEGIRL CAFE. The food was amazingly good and the service was…an experience. To see kids who, at one time, thought that a life of gangs, drugs and prison was the only thing life had to offer them, are now serving a hungry lunch crowd with pride and gratitude. It was a beautiful thing.
Father Gregory let us know that all appointments may be NO more than 30 minutes due to his extremely busy schedule. Busy…is putting it lightly. When we arrived for our appointment, he had about 10 executives crammed in his tiny office. Once it was our turn, he very politely said, “would you mind if I handle something really quickly before we meet?” He then invited a “homeboy” into his office. Once again it was our turn. Father was kind, spoke very candidly and surprisingly pronounced Spanish words correctly…not like your typical white boy…like my husband. In the middle of our meeting Father stopped, once again, and said “Do you mind? I need to speak to this homeboy?” To see a white bearded, older man call someone his “homeboy”, a priest no less, was awesome. He grabbed the homeboy’s hand and did the typical shoulder bump/hug. It was amazing…this man is really all about these kids and giving them hope and direction. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
If you are ever in Los Angeles, please, take the opportunity to visit Homeboy Industries and see for yourself. You have to see it to really feel it.
I couldn’t leave without a souvenir, so I bought something for my own lil homeboys!