Economy Gangs

MOCA and HOMEBOY: LA Treasures at Risk


Last week, the LA Times ran a big story
about the financial troubles being faced by LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art—MOCA

The idea of MOCA being so cash-strapped due to the failing economy (plus a teensy bit of its own fiscal mismanagement), that it might be forced to sell off some of its art collection was deeply unsettling to many. Yet fortunately it seems as if disaster has been averted by Eli Broad, who has stepped into the breach to the tune of $30 million dollars.

As Broad rightly said in his Op Ed of last Friday:

“MOCA is one of our city’s cultural treasures, and it would be tragic both for the cultural health and civic reputation of Los Angeles if this institution ceased to exist.

Yes. Of course.

But here’s the thing: Los Angeles has more than one kind of imperiled treasure.

Homeboy Industries, Father Greg Boyle’s 20-year-old gang intervention program, is also running mostly on fumes these days.

Nonprofits all over Los Angeles County are struggling or threatened because the foundations that have given them life-sustaining grants in the past have watched chunks of their own investment portfolios vaporized in these last two months. Thus the grants they are handing out are getting smaller and fewer—if they are handing out grants at all.

Such has been the case with some of the big donor organizations that usually fund Homeboy Industries.

Yesterday, I spoke to Homeboy’s financial officer, a smart woman named MaryEllen, who told me that many of the foundations and other funding sources Homeboy has counted on in the past were either not able to give grants at all or had informed Homeboy that the grants would be delayed for six months.

“We had commitments from people who have said, ‘Look, we want to honor them, but we can’t do it now.’”

Father Greg said that the funding crunch is coming at a particularly bad time because more people than ever are desperate for work.

“This is the last time in the world you want to let this happen,” he said. “We have 1000 people a month walk through our doors from 700 gangs and 45 different zip codes. And we have four job developers who can’t find jobs for the people we serve.”

“In 20 years, he said “I’ve never seen it like this. And never have we been more inundated.”

In the past, when jobs were in short supply, Homeboy has provided minimum wage work for former gang members—male and female—-who are particularly desperate. At present, more than 300 such people work at the Homeboy office or at one of its various businesses.

“But, now we have a hiring freeze,” Greg said. “Normally, we’d give guys jobs right out of camps or prison. These are men who come to us and say, ‘I just got out yesterday and you were the first person I came to see.’ That’s the guy you want to grab right away,” he said. But, with grant money suddenly in such dangerously short supply, Homeboy is in no position to hire those guys. And Father Greg is doing all he can to avoid major layoffs.

“Now a big part of my week is watching grown men cry in my office because they can’t pay their rent or buy Pampers for their baby.”

“I like contemporary art as much as the next person,” he said. “But if you have to choose between the two things, these lives are consequential.”

Homeboy will survive, Greg assured me. “We always do.”

But at the moment, the organization is just hoping to meet its next payroll.

And if Homeboy ceased to exist, where would all the guys and young women who stream through its front doors go then? Where else would they find help with jobs, mental health counseling, tattoo removal, parenting classes, or just plain hope and encouragement?

No one seems to have a good answer to that question.


PS: Follow this link to see a two minute-ish video of Father Greg talking about what’s going on.

Hmmmm. And then there’s this on YouTube (if you can get past the sorta plastic-sounding reporter.)

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  • There are plenty of worthwhile needs, but it’s hard to say when one is more important or urgent than another.

    It reminds me of the argument by liberals in the ’60s that we shouldn’t spend money on space exploration when there are hungry people on Earth. I think the space thing has worked out well.

    I have no problem with the art museum selling works to survive, just as I have no problem with the state selling excess park land for other projects, but the finanacial managers at failing entities should be replaced with competent people.

    It’s time for Father Greg to turn Homeboy Industries into a for-profit company if he wants to stay in business to help anyone, though not everyone.

  • PLLLLEEEAAASSSEEE. I know you’re a big supporter of HomeBoy Celeste, but let me tell you from friends who LIVE WHERE THESE GANG BANGERS are still actively banging and selling drugs. This organization is a farce. I know you did a huge story on the American Family a couple of years ago and guess what? They ended up being arrested for felonies and put their poor kids through hell. So sorry if I don’t feel badly cause these gang bangers who are still committing crimes and putting fear where my friends live feel badly for them. You need to wake up. Go speak to the students at Cathedral High School where the gang bangers verbally assault and threaten them because they attend a catholic high school. You really think they stopped gang banging to work at a minimum wage job when they can make $1,000’s selling drugs. WAKE UP. Talk to people in the community and they’ll tell you the truth.

  • Sad news. Homeboy Industry has been doing amazing work in community to keep kids away from gangs.I worry how the city is going to effectively implement their new anti-gang policy with the such a bad economy.

  • Father Greg Boyle is a modern day saint and Homeboy/Homegirl Industries will indeed survive although it would be nice if some Daddy Warbucks would step forward and help Homeboy/Homegirl out. I have used some of Homeboys guys over the years and some of them worked out and some didn’t, but one thing is always constant and that is the dedication, hard work, and love from Father Greg Boyle shown to all, no matter what the circumstance. Members of my family have for years been with Father Greg Boyle at the school and Church of Dolores Mission,this Church is a religious and socially conconsious rock and a foundation for the very tough and poverty stricken area.
    IMHO it is doing for and providing to the people what all supposed Christian Church’s should be doing.
    For a real Christian experience I would suggest attending a Sunday Mass at Mission Dolores with Father Greg at the helm, it’s the real deal and very inspiring.

  • Yeah, space exploration hasn’t done anything to help mankind or to study land and weather for agricultural production increases. I see there are still dumb holdovers.

  • Janet, I hear that POV about Homeboy on a regular basis, mostly from certain segments of law enforcement, and I would only say this: I challenge you to spend an afternoon at the place. Have lunch at Homegirl cafe. Take the tour. Go into the bakery. Talk to the guys and young women there in and around the office. Wander around. See what you think. You’re a discerning person. If it’s all a sham, you’ll see it. And, maybe you’ll come away feeling exactly the same as you do now. But out of all the critics of Homeboy, I’ve never found a single one who has set foot in the place. So if you really believe the program is a farce, test your perception. Go check it out.

    Otherwise you’re relying on rumor and innuendo.

    As for the American Family story, all the details, including the last arrest and its circumstances and its aftermath, will be in the book I’m working on right now. Instead of following the family for a year, which I did for the the LA Weekly series, the book follows the Luis and Frances Aguilar for four years. I think you’ll find it a very human story. But it’s way easier to demonize people than to address their human complexity.


    I’ll try to get them restored tomorrow. This is a glitch resulting from an update to the site’s software. We hope to have all this fixed shortly.

    Just wanted you to know they weren’t deleted.

  • I was born in the projects where HOMEBOY got started, i was their at the bgining. I know lots of homies who work or worked thier, one is my cousin. This guy i will no longer help in any way family dos’nt mean anything to him he let his children get taken away because he was using drugs, he said “f#$k them my dad was’nt their for me why should I”. We went to his girlfriends house where he was staying to grab clothing because they had a fight. No one answered but someone was home. He kick down the door their in a thick cloud of smoke was 4 girls & 2 guys, all HOMEBOY employed. The smoke was from meth! They were all tweeked out. This is small example, I’m told HOMEBOY is the first stop out of prison only safe haven from parole violation, but their they get to gether and organize. The guys @ HOMEBOY are still very active, even @ a level of shot calling. Not everyone is bad we do need help out in the hood, but G-DOG (father Greg) is only enableing drug addiction by giving money away to people like my cousin who only use it to get dope. My ambiguity is confusing even to myself it may be everyones interest to keep HOMEBOY open & pumped full of meth, if you dont where would they get their dope & money? On the streets from you in your home.

  • I agree with kooly. The homeboys are much more clever and complacent than meets the eye. It’s interesting to note that people in mexico actually work for ntheir money. You see this clearly when you cross the border. People work hard to survive…from real poverty. There is no welfare or homeboy industries in these places yet people work hard for crumbs. They’ll wash your windows, your shoes, play the guitar, juggle oranges, sell peanuts, etc. Nothing is free foor these people…in fact they are not even asking for your sympathy. They build their carboard box homes without hesitation. Homeboys must take example and inspiration from these people and stop acting as if they are crippled. They are not crippled, handicapped, nor disabled in any which way or form. They are healthy and are able to work. The homies aren’t human interest stories…they are irresponsible lazy asses that with the right discipline and leadership can be lethal in the working world. Trust me, I know, I come from the bottom…done drugs, been shot, locked up, etc. Stop enabling now!

  • Dec,12-01-08 at 1:57
    I agree with some of the things not all of them, Reason Why!
    Because theres alot of us Here at Homeboy-Industries that are Really Grateful for the opportunity to better ourselfs and it is truely a Blessen From God to people! like myself!Who spent most of there life in the streets of Watts I grew up with out my mother an father, I lost them when i was little so for me to be able to work for a good god fearing man like Father Greg is nothing but a blessen from god through Father Greg to blesses people like myself a ex-gangmenber who had never thought that he would be able to make a difference in someones life! I talk to young people everday about God & Jesus and how he work through people to make us understand his message, which is the chruch which is us the people we are the chruch an it is are Resposibility to love one another an to help eachother grow closer to god and to try are best to stay in god so he can stay in us. we can not achieve nothing with out god! and I thank God for Father Greg an Homeboy-Industries everday for this blessen from god through Father Greg. God has chose Father Greg as a great vessel to do his work with the young people of Los Angeles Ca. one thing i like about Homeboy is that we all here is like family to one aother an thats nothing but god!let go an let god.

  • I to was there from the beginning I’ve seen success and failure first hand, I am a success story In progress
    For I live for the day that peace lives in me. Homeboy was there in my darkest time in life. Homeboy Industries gave me that opportunity that I did not know it had existed. Fr Greg Boyle
    Can only offer an opportunity of a life time to a human being that has come to realize that he can no longer live In darkness, And pray for those who that have not realize they live in darkness . – Rodriguez

  • Because we have different points of view does not mean god is not in us. God works through many people in many ways. Let us not put god in a box my brother. God favors many…his work is not through homeboy alone. You are probably a rare exception at homeboy…I congradulate you. However, we must dare to expirioment with different approaches as to how to motivate youth. Because an organization carries the banner of “god first” doesn’t mean the approach is the right one…just look at the middle east, at the conquest in mexico 500 hundred years ago, etc. All carry “god first” in their front lines, yet millions have died as a result. Just like you I grew up in the barrio, and just like you I am thankful to many. This does not mean, however, that I will not think for myself or that god loves me any less. I refuse to be emotionally and psychologically blackmailed by religious propaganda. And I strongly believe that god helps those who want to help themselves. Therefore, I stand by my prior statement. Homeboys need to be freed from enabling and dysfunctional dependence. The kingdom of god is within you…all the ingredients are there. Dare to fly and free yourself from psychological imperialism, which is a subtle way of oppression. God be with and all sentient beings!

  • WOW! Homeboy has come a very, very long way! I’ve seen it grow first hand and proud to say that it has had more successes than failures. The ever growing organization has faults, just as any other organization in existence today! Politics within and politics surrounding it….just a never ending story! I congratulate those successes and for those that have not quite gotten there….well it just takes them a little longer. I challenge all those nay sayers to walk in through those doors and attempt to do the work that G has done for 20 years…..20 years….there’s a reason why it’s been up and running for this long! I hope and pray that all falls into place for the better of the communities it serves…..and let me tell you it serves many!

  • Amen to that brother “R.” I pray and hope that homeboy thrives, along with you. I must let you know that I know father greg since my days as a gangbanger when “G” rode aroound in his bicycle. I also worked for for G as a job developer for four years. All experiences were awesome. I got to see both sides of Homeboy Industries, as a gangmember being reached out to, to an employee serving homies. I’ve walked through both doors. Given this experience, I have been able to assess and o serve Homeboy from various angles. One thing I know for sure is that homeboys get a lot of slack. They are given fish instead of being taught how to fish. This builds a cycle of dependency that disables homies from surviving in the real world. Sometimes the homies also need a good dose of old school tough love…can’t let them get away with everything. I think homeboy falls short in this regard. They are not taught responsibilty and accountability. This turn tells outsiders that they are either mentally retarded or unwilling to cooperate. I know that the homies aren’t retarded…they have the potential to be solid workers. They definitely can be uncooperative and complacent. With a few adjustments and key players I beliebve homeboy can get the extra edge (push) it needs. Let’s make the homies productive memebers of the community. Let’s raise the bar for them, make them responsible and active.

  • Victimology is internalized oppression and a mechanism of institutionalized religion to keep people down. The more you treat homies like there is something wrong with them, the more they will act like victims, and the more rewards the “helpers” will get, not only on earth “but also in heaven.” “Do-gooders” must allow people to keep their dignity by not thinking of themselves as “the ultimate good.” See people as ABLE not as dis-ABLE! Patronizing kindness is not real kindness. It kills the spirit of humankind, and the will to the able-bodied person. Homeboy Industries seems to be a crutch. Homies don’t need anymore crutches…they need wings!!

  • I speak in behalf of myself..
    Homeboy Industries to me is something far greater than the opinions sheared on this page. I’ve been a part of homeboy for as long as I can remember and I’ve heard it all from both sides, those that support homeboy and those that don’t, the opinions sheared on this page is little to what I’ve heard in the past. I personally have seen the negatives and positives of the EMPLOYEES Homeboy Ind. has /had, But why judge homeboy on those that didn’t take advantage or realize what they had / have. Why judge homeboy on those that lost their way and chose to do wrong. But instead look at homeboy for what it truly is. Father Greg describes and speaks about homeboy far greater than anyone can.

    It is a place of hope & opportunity to change your life for the better. I’ve seen 1st hand the impact on those that chose to take advantage of homeboy for what it truly stands for. It changed and changes the lives of not only homeboys, homegirls, but families & communities. Homeboy has & will continue to change the world we live in. — and help it become a better place.

    Like I said, “I speak in behalf of myself.” and my record speaks for me as well. My family and I have been there since day one. When Father Greg road around the projects in his beach cruiser, when all G had was a small office in Dolores mission church, when he got a little office up on 1st street, when the Bakery opened, when he got a bigger office a little more up 1st street, the 1st day the silkscreen opened, and to were homeboy is now. I’ve witness the ups and downs, the struggles and success’s, the stories that Homeboy Industries has gone through and that’s just through my eyes, not stories people have told me. I can’t even imagine how it must be through the eyes of Father Greg.

    I’m not saying the opinions sheared on this page are not important, because they are. There your opinions & they have the capability of changing the way people think & view Homeboy Industries, but I ask you this, why speak down/negative on a program that stands for what it does? Why are you judging Homeboy Ind. because the choices of certain individuals? (and by the way, I still have faith and hope in those homeboys as well.) I’m just curious to know and would love to share my opinions with you. I’m not here to judge you because I am no one to judge anyone..

    God bless Homeboy Industries,
    Supporters or non supporters,
    God bless you all.

  • For the record, it is not brother R….it is sister R…..:)

    Well said Alex.

    I have faith that all will turn out positive! One day at a time… homeboy at a time… Some take advantage of the program and do well for themselves…others don’t, like I said before, it takes them a little longer to strive, or not at all. It is what you make of it.

  • I’m a resident of East L.A. and I remember buying my first Homeboy shirt more than a decade ago!
    I was working at the East Los Angeles Skills Center and I thought it was a beautiful concept, especially considering the ridiculus amount of young people we serviced, that fit the exact demographic Father Boyle was attemting to reach.
    There will always be sceptics.
    There will always be those who will say:
    “You can’t…”
    “You shouldn’t…”
    “It’s better to…”
    I feel like people who are not willing to get in there and MAKE CHANGE HAPPEN have absolutely no validity in this forum.
    The truth is, we are not talking about statistics, and isolated incidents of human weaknesses and failures (well some people are). But if that were merely the case, we would ALL be subject to scrutiny. We are all flawed in our existance and can be placed into categories and judged. We are talking about people, people. Real people. With families…with no one maybe?
    We ARE our brothers keepers.
    It DOES take a village to raise a child.
    People CAN change.
    What about compassion and empathy?
    Have we forgotten basic human kindness?
    Or don’t you know what it’s like to be the odd man out? To be so low that no one would bend over to give you a hand, even look you in the face?
    What Father Boyle does…what Homeboy Industries does…is more than make shirts or muffins.
    They give people hope. They offer them a hand. They look them in the face.
    There is no amount of money that can compensate for what they have established in ghetto communities across LA. In MY community.
    They are as necessary to man’s survival as water or air. Without hope, we have nothing. We are dead.

  • My brothers and sisters we share the same passion and love for what is good and just. We want what is best for all homies and people alike, as we do for our own children. Please forgive me if I have offended you in any way. It is/was not my intention, as it is not my intention to discredit father G and Homeboy. His hard work and dedication stands alone and speaks for itself. But just like we must adopt to the changes our own children make in their lives, we must also find creative ways and strategies to deal with each phase they encounter in their development. It is common sense that a child outgrows his shoe as he physically grows. He/she cannot wear the same old shoe for blisters and sores will surely develop on his/her feet. Just the same we cannot wear the same old approaches to attacking the gang problem that prevail our city. This puts a damper on any necessary and natural growth that needs to take place. I am certain that you would not like to keep your own kids at a kindergarden level, nor would you like to stay there yourself. What I think is that father G needs a fresh team with new ideas and perspectives that can only enhance and add to his program, not replace. Look at it like a relay race. It’s about passing the boton to one another to complete the same race. It is not about a competition, it’s about running together, moving forward, and not staying behind. The homeboys need to be challenged. Yes, God loves them as they are but I doubt he will be mad if they make progress. It’s no longer about one individual saving the day alone. Those days are gone. G cannot do it alone and God has not left the mission for him alone…Jesus did that already for everyone 2000+ years ago. He did the saving. Let’s be creative and work together. You have all my admiration and respect.

  • To Melissa Z: Indeed we are our brothers keeper. That’s why I know that if you’re brother is fucking up and he can do better, you will let him know. I doubt that you will support your brother, pay his rent, buy his food, etc. for the rest of his life. To be your brothers keeper is to give him a hand, and a push, in times of need, not to support and sustain his lazy ass. In regards to “being down and out,” I’m sure every person on the planet has experienced it. That what life is comprised of, up’s and down’s. You are right, Hope is what keeps us alive. Just look at people in Bangladesh. How can they be alive one more day? People with literal crumbs for food. Yet, here they are, hanging on. For these folks it is seriously about HOPE! For homeboys, it’s about getting off their ass and realizing that they are capable of taking care of business. If they keep leaving their duty to obtain food to others, they will never leave the nest. Yes, there is a thing called compassion. That is why I will not continue to psychologically cripple them by doing the thinking and hunting for them. Compassion is what is best and doing what is necessary for the development of individuals, at all levels. Birds need to learn to fly and leave the nest. This is a natural phenomena. Think about it, why is it that people can manage to survive in third world countries with minimal resources and no welfare system, yet the homeboys can barely make it on their own in a first world country? I believe it is domestication and false conditioning which breed in inner city youth a sense of incapacity and fear. The more we speak of how they are “down and out” the more we breed this mindset. Let us speak in different terms now in this new century. Let’s really give them hope and something to believe with a re-newing of their minds. In fact, let’s stop calling them homeboys and simply refer to them as people. To say “homeboys” almost automatically entails “disability.” Let’s get over the mindset of “what we’ve been through” and get into the mode of “what I can do, and will do!” Finally, we are living in the last chapter of our sacred bible. Let’s close it and begin writing the new scrolls…for the next humanity!!

  • To Clever, just to clear some things out.
    The word “homeboys” is a title, not a form or way to consider these men & women a “disability” or to be looked down on, simply a title. And again, you judge Homeboy Ind. on individuals. I don’t consider the homeboys/girls that print our shirts, bake our bread, kook our food, clean our buildings/streets, run the many classes homeboy ind offers, and those that simply show up everyday to better there lives, I would not consider or refer to them as LAZY ASS’S. so ”We ARE our brothers keepers.” And I agree, “Birds need to learn to fly and leave the nest” and this is something that Homeboy Industries does, some just take longer than others, but we are nobody to judge anyone. Lastly when you use examples of third world countries & the country we live in, you open the fields to many topics. –Alex.

    “There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only few will catch your heart. Pursue those.” – Michael Nolan.

  • Mr. Alex R., it seems you are also very quick to judge and not give some matters a little more thought. You pick and choose what you want to pick apart in people’s words and miss the bigger point. I believe in interdependence. Within interdependence there is such a thing as individuals. Each person in the large connected web have individual unique talents and unique traits…and I mean every single person. Of course there are many things that catch my heart…as well as my eye. I’ve lived many intense experiences in my life and have witnessed the many injustices in the world. One thing that I have gotten over is the need to feel “touched” and all hockie pokie all the time. It’s not a good idea for you, and Homeboy, to foreclose prematurly on identity. You hold fast to your conclusion of what service is. The term “Homeboy” unfortunately is associated with negative connotations. It shouldn’t, but it is. It is a label. I call the “homies” lazy asses as because I can and because they can be. I also know in my heart that they can be amazing. We are working to the same ends with different approaches. This doesn’t mean that you “only catch with your heart” and I “with my eye.” I am a full-blown human being, therefore, on occasions I will be on different moods. I allow myself to be…not stringent and forceful one view point. I am not the one to define “goodness” and “non-goodness.” This all is interpreted by ones own value system, indoctrination and domestication, as well as religiously. What I do attempt whole heartedly is to be as open-minded as possible to stretch myself far and learn to appreciate that many perspectives that exist, as well as the many approaches to the world’s problems. I’m not going to sit here and give you lines of quotes that I have read because I’d rather learn about life myself and create my own quotes along the way. I want to leave a trail, not follow your path. You seem to be a Homeboy Bandwagoner and think as the same. I doubt father Greg will dislike you if you actually have a real opinion. What is more, I doubt that God will stop loving you. I don’t mind having a discussion with you. I see and hear some of your points but I have heard them all from prior Homeboy Bandwagoners. Nothing new seems to come out of it. “The homeboys have it bad, nobody listens to them, one homeboy at a time,” etc. All good and dandy but we need some more alternatives. We need an extra push. What do you suggest? All that Homeboy provides sounds excellent. What angle is Homeboy missing that would energize the Homeboys and get them to be self-advocates sooner because lord knows they are having babies faster than they grow mentally. Not only are they having babies fast and leaving them to tax payers but they are also quick learners when it comes to committing crimes. In my opinion it takes a few brains to think out crimes. How can we shift this thought process to more productive means? We should sit down and have this discussion Alex. What do you say? Change is inevitable. Let’s combine all approaches and hope for some serious results.

  • To Clever 🙂
    I appreciate your point of view and I believe you make a valid point. I agree that enabling people…to do wrong, is harmful.

    However, how do we determine where providing opportunity to those who need it, want it, and are willing to make changes, ends, and enabling begins?

    Obviously each and every individual has a different outcome. So, do we sacrifice the ones who will change, for the one’s who won’t?

    And in regards to the hypothetical question you posed, my answer is this;
    I believe I would do whatever I could to help my brother. I would never lose hope that he would one day be healed.
    I would maintain my faith, even if from a distance.
    All because I know that if it were me that were seemingly hopeless, I would want someone to have faith in me.
    I would want someone to show me unconditional love.

    And maybe I sound like some bleeding heart…like a delusional idealist, but I don’t care. I believe we are all gifts. We are all valuable. Some just realize it more than others.
    I also believe that has everything to do with the type of foundation and environment you are provided with since inception, and social conditioning in general.
    That is why people in third world country’s can survive. They know nothing else.
    That is why many of our people believe we are not worthy or capable of greatness. They know nothing else.
    As for the term “homeboy,” it is whatever you make of it. Maybe one person pictures a gangster. I think of a friend. What people refer to you as, does not necessarily make it definitive of you. Just like everything else, it is a matter of percetion.

    If it is possible for us to provide a new foundation to those who were not afforded that luxury at birth, why wouldn’t we?


  • Melissa, your questions are profound and valid and merit some good answers. If Homeboys philosophy is about accepting everyone as they are, and keeping the doors open to when Homeboys are ready for “change,” than shouldn’t this apply across the board? Why than are we asking people on the outside to change, pay attention, and fund this program? Shouldn’t we accept their apathy and negligence? After all, God loves everyone as they are…isn’t this what is preached at Homeboy? If what I say holds true, than Homeboy is selective as to what they believe is “good” and as to what people are “good.” This sounds like the same old Christian prescription. If it’s not about “changing” the homeboys but of “accepting” them, then why ask everyone else to change? Sounds to me like Homeboy has the same old agenda of converting people to their Christian paradigm. Nothing wrong with it. However, it perpetuates the cycle of colonization and imperialism. If history has taught us that change is imposed as well as inevitable, than why not shift into a new direction once again. Change doesn’t mean the ultimate solution, but it is necessary and natural. Five centuries, Christianity didn’t mind changing others. They believed in change, although the way they went about it was brutal. Why are they fearing change now? The change progressive thinkers preach is not violent at all. It is a change in perspective…it is a paradigm shift…not a re-inventing of the wheel. By changing perspectives we begin to create a new language. From language we derive our understanding of, and agreement(s), of life, henceforth, belief systems and mindsets are formulated. The idea of “helping” can definitely hold new meaning and approaches. Agape love is Christian and valid. Compassion is universal as well as it Christian. Forgiveness is also Christian and universal. But think about how difficult these values are to practice from people on the other side of the spectrum. How about that mother who lost her child to “that thug?” How about that daughter “that the thug raped?” What if one of your dearest loved ones was murdered or shot by a homie? The values of compassion, forgiveness, etc. seem easier preached than practiced. Just to share a personal story with you, I witnessed my fathers sentencing to ten years in prison many years back to Corcoran State Prison, and his permanent deportation upon his release. It broke my heart to pieces. I was really angry at the system and felt it was a huge injustice. My father was a hard working law abiding man. I often questioned why certain Homeboys roamed the streets getting away with murder (literally) while my father was locked up. It killed me inside. Many people are angry and hurt out there Mellisa, that the gangsters have taken their loved ones. Should we not feel compassion for these people? As I said, there are many complex questions in life that cannot be answered. I do believe, however, in overcoming pain and anguish and definitely I believe in change. I also believe that opportunity is out there for everyone. We are providing opportunity for everyone. Roosevelt High School provides bilingual education for those who want to master English. Public schools are there for young people to learn and take advantage of education. Yes, some fall through the cracks and others have other talents. That is why there are the East L.A. Skills Center and the Occupational Center where you can learn vocational trades, like mechanics, air conditioning repair, etc. You have Art Share Los Angeles, free of charge to those with artistic talent, and who wish to pursue artistic endeavors. You have job agencies, free bus tokens, welfare money, for those who need a push, food stamps, WIC, etc. etc. I don’t understand where the idea “of no opportunity comes from.” Do the homies require to be taken by the hand to these places? It’s hard to believe that there are no opportunities that you speak of. The question is, what will it take to get the Homeboys to get to this services on their own? Oh…”it’s because they can’t cross enemy territory.” O.K…so there you have it. It’s not that there is nor opportunity. It’s that they are gang members. Again, we all must change together…not one group of people or another. The Homeboys have/must stop walking around like they are walking targets. It is really up to them to change, and not the rest of the community and society. It’s as easy as growing your hair, removing your visible tattoos and changing your attitude. I think people are ready to forgive for those who are willing to take steps towards change.

  • To Clever,
    I apologize if you took my last comment as if I judged you. My intentions are not to put anyone down or to criticize anyone, simply to share MY thoughts about Homeboy and clarify the meaning of the organization. I’ll repeat myself & clarify it.

    “There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only few will catch your heart. Pursue those.” – Michael N. Homeboy industries has caught my heart, so I pursue it.. It might not touch your heart and that’s ok, doesn’t make you any less of a person. Like you said “We are working to the same ends with different approaches”…

    Homeboy Industries is changing the world one homeboy/girl at a time. It is the biggest GANG intervention program in the U.S. the focus of homeboy is exactly that, working with homeboys/girls, and by doing so it alters the world to a positive direction. There are 1,000s of programs and organizations that believe in CHANGE, Homeboy is just one approach. You can be on this wagon, or the next, the paths we take are leading to the same ends.

  • Hey Alex — no offense taken. We are just here to challenge each other as well as learn from each other. The idea is for all us to get out of tunnel vision and narrow-mindedness. By evaluating the many perspectives and approaches we hope to get an appreciation of all that exists. More power to Homeboy Industries for doing what it does. Most definitely we have to keep all bases covered. If one agency falls short in one regard, maybe the next one can catch it. Ultimately, I think you and I come to agree on the main thing…PEOPLE first! I strongly believe in the Homeboys and have the utmost confidence that they can become more than they see themselves as. Although, at times we treat them as if they will not get to far. Planting seeds is a good thing, not only in Homeboys but in the people who render the services. I’m sure that we all have room to amp up our game!

  • I’m just a simple nobody but man, there are all kinds of good points here. I wouldn’t mind seeing people thrive more. I’m raza and I hate to see my people getting the short end of the stick. Like this vato said, maybe we just need a little extra help. I know father g is firme and all but you know people still look at us like were nada, like gente have to save us and shit. I’ve done tiempo in la pinta I todo el pedo. I tried to read a little in there…tu sabes…get a little knowledge going cause you know all these gabas no more than us and u never know what they are up to. I wish they can school us in that regard so we can handle our own and don’t be all tirados. Sabes que I don’t like people feeling sorry for me. If ur gonna teach me something than teach me. Ya estubo con todo ese pedo que we’re pobres’n’shit. Los homies need cletcha pa que sepan the real ropes. Take it from a vato that has been there.


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