El Niño, Downtown Los Angeles 1966 - age 3.

El Niño, Downtown Los Angeles 1966 - age 3.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Homeboy Industries Layoffs

Fall 2007, Opening of the Homeboy Industries Headquarters in Chinatown. Photos by El Niño Angeleno.

Homeboy Industries a gang intervention program and non-profit founded by Father Greg Boyle (Loyola High School class of 1972) has become another casualty of the economic recession juggernaut we are experiencing in California. Private donations, which are a large part of their funding, have slowly dried up thus causing this much needed program to shut down most of the services it offers to former gang members hoping to start a new life.

300 staff and administrators were laid off this week shutting down several of the programs including silk screening and landscaping which helped former gang members with job training and work opportunities. Founded in Boyle Heights East Los Angeles in 1988 by Father Boyle, the program was then called Jobs For The Future (JFF) and its mission was to provide counseling and job training to gang members who were willing to leave the gang life behind and give back to themselves and the communities they came from. JFF was also an opportunity for rival gang members to work side by side which is a tremendous accomplishment within itself.

In 2007 I attended the grand opening of the their new headquarters located on the edge of Chinatown. On many occasions since, I have stopped by the Homeboy Bakery and the Homegirl Café and the staff has always been very pleasant and my experience there always very positive. According to Father Boyle, they will continue to offer tattoo removal and counseling services for those that need them. Hard work, team efforts and a focused vision by Father Boyle, the staff, students and volunteers has helped get the Homeboy Industries Salsa on the shelves of a local supermarket chain.
We are hoping that someone can step in and save this much needed non-profit organization that is a role model for all gang intervention programs throughout the nation.

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