Posts Tagged ‘Homies’

Last Tuesday, September 14th was a very good day for me. After a productive day, I was looking forward to attending ‘An Evening with Father G’ at my beloved Loyola Marymount University. Like always, Father G brought about a very big crowd – so big that LMU scrambled to find a bigger location to house the event. He’s just that popular.

Father G was there on a book tour he is doing for his newest book: “Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion”. You can pick up your copy at any major bookstores, or here: However, instead of reading a chapter from the book or whatnot, Father G did it in true Homeboy fashion and just spoke from the heart. In that hour and a half, he told stories of the homies, many of which I personally knew, that brought a lot of the audience members to tears.


Blood Relationships are the subject that relate all of the stories that Father G presents in this newest book. Think about this… how many people in your everyday life connect to? Share a moment with? We are so accustomed to living our lives in a protective, personal-space bubble that we are scared to truly interact with people we don’t know. If there is no connection with others, how are we to truly know about them? … And then we go ahead and make assumptions about everyone around us – most of the time, they are completely wrong and negative assumptions. Doesn’t make sense at all. If you are to make a simple statement about a person or a group of people, I dare you to spend time with them and get to know them first before saying anything that you might regret. Based on my past experiences, I can almost bet that you will find yourself changing your mind. Try it.

Thanks to ITS at LMU, the full talk was recorded and you can enjoy it here! My favorite story is minutes 30:00 to 40:45, Gabriel’s story.

An Evening With Father Greg Boyle



Don’t have any plans for Friday night yet? Come out to the Palm Court Ballroom at the Alexandria Hotel for benefit concert supporting Homeboy Industries! In a post I did back in May,– I wrote about how Homeboy was hit hard during these economic hardships and had to layoff 300+ staff members. This benefit concert solely supports Homeboy Inds. in order to keep their doors open to do what they do best – keep inspiring the communities of Los Angeles.

Tickets are $10 pre-sale and $15 at the door to enjoy the great music of Quinto Sol. The show runs from 9 pm to 2 am. For any more information about the concert this Saturday call: 213.622.3105

>> EDIT:

Unfortunately, I have just found out tonight that this concert is cancelled :[ I hope that it isn’t definite and that they will re-schedule something soon.  Please feel free to donate still if you haven’t yet; again, the link to donate: There is no minimum or limit for donations, so whatever you have to spare please feel free to send it over to a good cause!

>> EDIT: No.2

Fortunately, the show is back and running! Mark your calendars for Friday, July 23rd!! Make sure not to miss this great show – especially since it’s their second time putting it together!



I cannot even believe that I am even writing this in the first place, yet, I HAVE to get the news out…

homeboy industries needs your help!

Late last night, I saw a post on my friend’s Facebook saying that Homeboy Industries was closing its doors today. To quote:

“by now, if you have not heard, on friday, at 5 pm, homeboy industries shuts its doors after 23 years of service to the city of Los Angeles. We have had to lay off 300 people, senior staff included. the businesses – silkscreen, cafe, bakery and our school remain open. We need your help. send your donations now. $10, $20, $50. send your checks to Mona Hobson, 130 West Bruno Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012”

I could NOT believe that after opening its doors in 2001 – well, essentially in 1988 with the “Jobs For a Future” – Homeboy Industries had to layoff around 300 of its employees. Unfortunately, the horrible condition of the economy does not discriminate from great organizations like this and money-hungry businesses. With the slowing down of donations, Homeboy Industries and Father G [Greg Boyle] cannot afford to sustain the hundreds of amazing people that they employee everyday.

Sadly, this means a lot more than just a regular employee layoff; this means a huge risk for those former gang members that were employed by this organization. The motto of H.I. says it all: “Jobs not Jail” / “Nothing stops a bullet like a Job”. Without employment at Homeboy Industries, many of these former gang members aren’t very likely to find a job someplace else. As I have stated in a previous post, much of our society are not as open-minded to give a tattoo-filled man the opportunity for employment. What options do they have now?

For the moment, the silkscreen, cafe, bakery, and school remain open, however, everyone going back to work, go back as volunteers, not employees. And, as a huge supporter of this organization, I ,too,will try to dedicate my time to Homeboy Industries – whatever service I can lend. Please visit their site: and donate whatever you can to help them out. However, if you are as broke as I am, please help out by spreading the word! I, as well as thousands of others, would greatly appreciate any help. I am now in the works of trying to set up a fundraiser to help the cause… more of that to come later.

Lastly, here is another account from one of my best friends, who incidentally was the one who introduced me to Homeboy Industries back in 2006. Read up and be informed:


Last November, I was able to take part of a tour of two juvenile camps with the USC: BEP study that I have been working with. This visit was especially insightful to what the kids that I work with go through when they are locked up in the camps. Without having a sense of what a juvenile camp is like, there would have been a disconnect from myself and my knowledge and the youth and their experiences.

The BEP researchers drove up to La Verne, California to take a tour of Camp Paige and Camp Afflerbaugh. For those who don’t know what a juvenile camp consists of, I will try to break it down as much as I can. On first inspection, it looked like we had arrived to a summer camp. The outside and surrounding areas looked exactly like the camps that I used to go as a girl scout. However, upon closer inspection and starting up the tour, I knew it was going to be different from the summer camps I attended as  kid.  We started the tour walking through Camp Paige, which is reserved for the younger juvenile youth ages 12 -16. The campgrounds were quiet and serene, the sun was shining bright and you could hear the birds calling out that morning. This was a strange sight being that I had anticipated a harsher environment. At the moment, the kids were in the classrooms for their daily school/schoolwork so we headed over to the adjoining Camp Afflerbaugh to learn about the Forestry Program that had for the older kids [ages 16-18].

Camp Afflerbaugh is unique in the sense that it is the only juvenile camp that allows the youth to be let off grounds. They have administered a Forestry Program so that the youth are able to acquire job related training during their stay and become productive members of society upon their release. We met with the Captain of the department, answering any questions we had about the program, he went through how the program works at the camp.

The Forestry program works in conjunction with the Probation Department camp guidelines and provides the camp youths an opportunity to participate in a work crew environment that emphasizes Urban Forestry and Horticulture concepts. The Forestry program begins for each minor with mandatory Training Crew participation. Each minor must pass a basic physical fitness program and a series of written daily quizzes encompassing four main topics: Program Orientation, Landscape Concepts, Irrigation System Components and Chainsaw Safety/Operation. Upon graduation, minors become Forestry Crew Members and are eligible to participate on a work crews in the capacity of crew leader, sawman, bucker, tool man, or crew member. All crew members have the opportunity to earn as many as three Certificates of Achievement depending on desire and dedication to the program. Practical daily work skills and employer expectations are stressed in all training and work crew assignments in preparation of work within the private sector. Minors are encouraged to seek employment in the nursery trade, landscape business, irrigation systems or tree maintenance companies upon graduation.

Off to work like real firefighters do!

The Forestry Program is staffed Monday through Friday. Two work crews, each consisting of 13 minors and one Probation Department Juvenile Crew Instructor, are checked out from Probation at 0815hrs for their daily work assignment. After roll call and inspection, the minors are required to complete a one hour physical fitness regime to include a combination of calisthenics, stair climbing, jogging or hiking in the surrounding hills. The workday concludes by 4:00PM each day with the last hour dedicated to equipment and vehicle maintenance and cleaning.

Typical work projects have included, Burro Canyon tree removal project in Azusa Canyon, tree plantation maintenance at Bonelli Park, removal of invasive non-native plant species at the Santa Fe Dam facility, and annual brush clearance for fire safety around the entire perimeters of both Camp Paige and Camp Afflerbaugh. Throughout the year, Camp 17 crews provide support services for the Los Angeles County Fire Department Headquarters, and the Los Angeles County Fair exhibit. (

Beyond what they learn on this job they are still held accountable for their behavior under the supervision of the Crew Instructor. It is made clear to the participants that if they are to mess up, at camp or during work, they are then in danger of not being on the work crew. They are given the 3-strike rule: mess up once, you are looked after, twice, a warning, and three times, you’re out of the forestry program – something that many of the juvenile youth are very proud to be a part of. Therefore, the program provides not only job related training, it also provides incentive to not mess around during their stay in the camp and work towards a bigger goal than they had in mind when they first entered camp.

I believe that jobs and job-training, especially for the younger generations, are a strong way to motivate someone to get out of a gang or to change their lifestyles; it becomes incredibly hard to do so without the proper resources!

Finally, to close, I want to leave you with a video about Homeboy Industries and one of their more recent projects of starting a training program for the Homies to learn how to assemble solar panels on houses. Job training as success!! Check it out!

From Gangs to ‘Green Collar’.

Homeboy Industries Mural, Boyle Heights

Here it is … This is the place where it all began: Homeboy Industries.

It all began sophomore year at LMU when I was talking to my friend about my interest in volunteering at Homeboy Industries. She told me her friend that already volunteered there and that she could introduce us. [Great!!] At the moment of meeting her we clicked right away on the basis of having the same philosophies about the marginalized of society. I knew that with her, I was about to begin an extraordinary journey! The next day we took a trip down to Boyle Heights after our classes.

Driving through the neighborhood, my friend was worried that I was going to be scared to be there; but I wasn’t, all I could think of was what I was about to experience. Once we got inside I felt a little out of place, to be honest; all of a sudden, I was surrounded by many former gang members – you know, the ones that your mom tells you to be careful with. But for some reason, I knew that I was safe in this place, there was no luring feeling in my gut telling me to get out of there! – instead, I knew that I was going to gain from this experience than lose anything from it. My friend introduce me to the volunteer coordinator and we got started right away. That afternoon we occupied a little room in the back of the building to tutor anyone who needed help with homework, classes or who were about to take their GEDs or other tests. After a few hours of tutoring and then talking to some of the Homies, I knew that I wanted to stay with this place and help out as much as I could. Most of the kids and younger adults, could not believe that my friend and I would go there by our free will and with no compensation. They kept asking us why and looking at us in disbelief. I realized that they think that no one in the world would care about them – ABSURD!! Right?

At this moment, I knew that I had to make it a point in life to give these young gentlemen and women a real chance to become successful and to break all of those stereotypes that hold them back. So … there you go, on that day of January 2006, is where my passion to work with juvenile youth began.