Seeking a Renaissance in San Francisco
Father Gregory Boyle, who is a Jesuit priest, has worked for almost 20 years with gang members in Los Angeles. His initiatives started back in 1988, but morphed into Homeboy Industries in 1992, creating jobs for people in one of the poorest neighborhoods of LA. Homeboy Industries works with gang members and ex-convicts to help them find employment, pull them out of the gang culture, and really just give them a second chance. Besides jobs, Homeboy has counseling, tattoo removal, and all sorts of other services for ex gang members, including a high school diploma program for dropouts. Homeboy has counseled over 12,000 gang members over the years. NPR’s Terry Gross interviewed Father Boyle on Fresh Air today with some sad news (You can listen to the story here). With the downturn of the economy, Homeboy had to lay off about 330 of its 427 employees. Donate to their cause and help save Homeboy here!!
Here’s the trailer to the Homeboy documentary, that has first hand reports from “homies,” as they’re called, on how their lives have changed.
It really is pretty amazing when people from rival gangs, who once used to kill each other, can actually come together and work towards a shared goal. This sort of work really hits home with me because of my interest in public service and public health. I really hope I can do something like this eventually and actually make a difference in people’s lives. Too bad capitalism will probably slap me back to reality, but hey, at least it’s worth a shot.