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.