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Video: Founder of largest gang intervention program in the country spreads a message of help and hope

LatinaLista — Fr. Greg Boyle is well known among the gang members of East Los Angeles. Because of the priest’s compassion and business sense, former gang members of the area have been able to create a new future for themselves with Fr. Boyle’s help and the organization he built which is considered the largest gang intervention program in the nation.

Creating Homeboy Industries in 1988, Fr. Boyle has overseen his organization’s evolution into a full-service agency that, in addition to providing job training and employment help, offers tattoo removal, mental health services, legal services, educational tutoring to pass the GED and unique business opportunities.

Under Fr. Boyle’s guidance, the young men and women participating in Homeboy Industries’ programs work in a variety of fields but the main business for the organization is its restaurant known as Homeboy Cafe and Bakery. It has proven so popular that a branch of it is opening at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) this summer.

True to the nature of the definition of a social enterprise, Homeboy works to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being through its businesses. By offering former gang members a place to work, Homeboy provides a place for them to learn soft skills, like administration and customer service, and also vocational skills from solar panel installation to pastry baking or catering. These jobs in Homeboy’s social enterprises, often the first “legit” employment our clients have ever held, give our clients confidence and self esteem while enabling them to provide for their families.

The jobs our clients have through our social enterprises offer them alternatives to re-incarceration or a return to their former gang lives.

Stressing that the main things he wants the youth to get from their involvement with Homeboy Industries is hope and jobs, Fr. Boyle spreads his message around the country to organizations and cities as a way to help get young people out of gangs and converted into contributing members of society and to their own families.

In the featured video, Fr. Boyle talks about Homeboy Industries to a TEDx audience and shares both funny and serious experiences he’s had working with a population that is too many times written off as hopeless.

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