Homeboys in L.A.
I first heard of Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ when I was a student. In one of my theology classes, we listened to a taped interview that Fr. Greg had done on NPR about his work with the gangs of Los Angeles. I think we may have also read excerpts from his book “G-Dog and the Homeboys.” I remember being struck by the work that Fr. Greg was doing and how powerful his story was, but I had actually forgotten about him until the other day.
I was reminded of Fr. Greg, to be perfectly and somewhat humiliatingly honest, when an episode of MTV’s ”True Life” caught my eye. The episode was titled “True Life: I live in the projects” and it profiled three young people who lived in three different housing projects around the country. One young man had lived in the projects in East L.A. his whole life and was trying to break free. In order to stay on the straight and narrow, he was working at “Homeboy Industries,” the organization the Fr. Greg Boyle founded. This young man talked briefly about “Homeboy Industries” and its mission but I remembered there being much more to it.
Fr. Greg founded “Homeboy Industries” in 1992 and based its mission off of the ideas of liberation theology. It strives to help former gang members in Los Angeles by providing jobs, job training, counseling and tutoring services and it has been pretty successful thus far. “Homeboy Industries” has extended into a line of clothing, silkscreen and embroidery, a bakery, a cafe, and maintenance services. One of Fr. Greg’s mottos is “Nothing stops a bullet like a job.” “Homeboy” also provides tattoo removal services for free in order t0 help clients escape gang life and join the larger community.
“Homeboy Industries” is an ambitious operation but one that I think does a lot of good and I just wanted to shed a bit of light on Fr. Greg Boyle’s achievements.