Saving Homeboy Industries – Giving U™

Smiling, Happy Homies!California – May 26, 2010
Last week I was driving in the car and reflecting on an interview I just had with an Afghanistan veteran with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

It was an informal interview for a Native American publication (he’s a combination of Shoshone-Apache-Yaqi) and he was telling me about the incident that led to his seeking mental health treatment. Let’s just say, it was pretty strong stuff.

So I was in a thoughtful mood and flipped on NPR (Kelley Clarkson be damned!).  The show was featuring an interview with Fr. Greg Boyle, a Jesuit priest and founder of Homeboy Industries. By coincidence, I had also interviewed Fr. Boyle.

I talked to Fr. Boyle a little more than a year ago on behalf of a foundation client. I was chatting with him to see if he fit the criteria to be a grant recipient and to receive $150,000 over 3 years. He was actually fairly qualified, but declined to pursue the grant opportunity. (This particular foundation’s grant application process is rather onerous).

The amazing Fr. Boyle!

The amazing Fr.  Boyle!At the time, I was a new program officer, and I assumed that if he didn’t want the money than someone else would.

Now, however, with a little more experience under my belt, I probably would have spent more time convincing him of the usefulness of the grant and help him realize the benefits associated with the funding. 

Basically, I should have convinced him that the pain of the process was worth the money and prestige in the end.

The whole conversation gave me pause because Fr. Boyle was discussing how Homeboy Industries had just laid off more than 300 staff (all ex-gang members) out of a total of 430. They were in a significant funding crisis. I thought more about his really spectacular work.

Working at Homeboy Industries

Working at Homeboy Industries

Homeboy Industries’ slogan is Jobs not Jails. Its mission is to assist at-risk and formerly gang-involved youth to become positive and contributing members of society through job placement, training and education. 

They also provide tattoo-removal services, as well as mental health, legal and transition services.

Based in L.A., they are known for their Homeboy Bakery, Homegirl Café, a printing business and a maintenance business.



Tattoos -- and gang-affiliation -- be gone!

Tattoos — and gang-affiliation — be gone!

They also sell cool stuff, like t-shirts, hats and bags.  I bought a drawstring backpack and a small cooler to take with me to my Friday Night Happy Hour tennis matches.
(That bit of fun will be saved for another post.)

My cooler is on its way!

My cooler is on its way!

I also bought a copy of Fr. Boyle’s new book Tattoos on the Heart, a “breathtaking series of parables distilled from the past two decades of Gregory Boyle’s life working with gang members in Los Angeles.” I thought I’d read the book, then give it to my 13-year old nephew who thinks he’s a badass rapper wannabe.

Looing  forward to this readLooking forward to this read

During the radio interview, Fr Boyle talked about how he hoped the stories in the book will make people laugh, make them cry, and make them think. Which is sort of my M.O. with the GoErinGo site (minus the crying bit).

Pull y’all in with the zany travel stories, but push my not-so-secret agenda about the fun of engaging in philanthropy. On my end, it’s not totally working: most of you are reading the stories, but few of you are participating in the philanthropy polls (Vote people!).

But back to Fr. Boyle. As it turns out, it was Fr. Boyle’s b-day the day he was being interviewed. So in support of Homeboy Industries’ work and in celebration of Fr. Boyle’s birthday, I designate Homeboy Industries as the GoErinGo Hot Org of the Month and gave a $100 donation.

I also gave a $100 donation to NPR, ‘cause they were have a pledge drive (as always!) and I listen but don’t always give.

If you want to help out Homeboy Industries, you can too, by:

The Homies will thank you!

Smiling, Happy Homies!

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 26th, 2010 and is filed under Hot Orgs.

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