Homeboy offers model to fight gangs

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREChargers go winless in AFC West with season-ending loss in Kansas CityHe sees the answer to that question every day in the lives turned around at Homeboy’s bakery, its soon-to-open cafe, its landscaping business and such services as counseling, tattoo removal and help with academic subjects. But his message is even more important than Homeboy’s jobs and services. Young people who want to escape the pull toward gangbanging need a guiding hand, a sense of hope and reassurance that there are far better opportunities than the harsh life of the streets. Father Boyle has proved the point. The rest is up to those of us who live in ZIP codes far removed from downtown L.A., in areas where it would take many times more than $12.5 million to begin to resolve the damage caused by gang violence. There will never be enough charitable grants to create a Homeboys Industries in every neighborhood, with payrolls big enough to offer jobs to the many thousands of at-risk young people in Southern California. But we can learn from the Homeboy example. What works is to create opportunities to learn meaningful skills in schools, vocational programs and afterschool programs from adults who deeply believe that at-risk young people, just like the rest of us, can have promising futures. Eight years after a devastating fire, Homeboy Industries, the nonprofit business grown famous for employing former gang members, began reopening last week in its $12.5 million new facilities. The location is in downtown Los Angeles, but the celebration ought to be regionwide. Father Gregory Boyle, the priest who founded Homeboy 20 years ago, told the Los Angeles Times that every ZIP code in the county has had someone who turned to Homeboy looking for help. That is true figuratively, if not literally. For all the good Homeboy does for its 250 or so employees and 1,000 or so others it serves, you might wonder how much impact it could have in a region with thousands of gang members and scores of thousands of at-risk youngsters. Quite a lot, actually. Father Boyle says it well. As he told a reporter, Homeboy is announcing a message in the middle of the city: “What if we invested in people rather than try to incarcerate our way out of the problem?” Relatively low-tech work such as the Homeboy bakery and cafe can help transform lives. Higher-tech programs can do that and more, helping bridge the wide gap between lower-skill jobs and those that pay several times as much. But it all begins with the kind of hope inspired by the work done at Homeboy Industries. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *