Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Homeboy Industries - Support Required

If you are even remotely interested in social justice and haven't heard of Homeboy Industries, and its slogan "Jobs not jails", well, I think perhaps there's a rock you've been under for quite some time. Father Greg Boyle has been one of the preeminent speakers and activists arguing for employment opportunities for former gang members for years. He's got a new book out Tattoos on the Heart (that I HIGHLY recommend) and his stories are both intensely inspiring and will simultaneously bring you to tears.

So, what's up? Insufficient funding WHILE the city takes advantage of its services (without paying for them). This is essentially a rallying cry.

Homeboy Industries' businesses (including Homegirl Cafe) are thriving. That's the great part. But, the comprehensive services the non-profit offers are still funded primarily through grants and donations. That's where we come it. They are short the funding they need and have had to make some drastic cuts that, if left to stay in place, will radically alter the lives of hundreds of people who are still in need of hope and support. (I have friends working there - disclaimer - but this means I also know what I'm talking about.)

There are three important things to do:

1) Read the editorial in the LA Times, Homeboy: What price hope?, and then tell me you don't think this is an essential group to support. Not possible.

2) Get out your credit cards or check books and get on the Homeboys website to become a supporter. I've just sent in my check and I really ask you to do the same.

3) If you are in LA (or not), make some noise at the Mayor who is happy to use his funding to hire gang interventionists who go out and get people to COME AND USE the Homeboys services, but then won't actually FUND Homeboy Industries itself for all the services it provides. Ridiculous and embarrassing!

Our city is better than this, and I think it's time the public allocates its own resources into the programs we know are effective.

Unlike my usual posts, this isn't just something to ponder. This requires action...as much as is possible for each of us. Since individual Homies are standing on street corners to do bake sales and car washes, the least we can do is stand in solidarity with them and contribute what we can to the effort.


  1. Dear Shelly,
    Hello, there, Shelly! You are right on target as usual as always with this blog post! I have heard of the Homeboy Industries, and your wonderful blog post is great at informing and enlightening those folks who have not heard of this, I thank you for this great posting! I appreciate hearing of how the strong and creatively brilliant former gang members are not being treated as throw away people just because of their past life and activities. I think that the advocacy with Homeboy Industries and Homegirl Cafe is fantastic, and I like how the great emphasis is on jobs and not jails, this is so preciously and seriously needed! I plan on continuing to support these endeavors
    in a general and on a financial level. I like the great advocacy which Fr. Boyle does with such care, diligence, sincerity, and sensitivity! My heart was brightened so much by reading this superb post of yours, Shelly!

    I thank you so dearly and so kindly, Shelly, and all of our other super and progressive white antiracist people! What each and every one of you gives with such care, sensitivity, and diligence means so, so much to me as the black/African-American woman who I am, and immensely increases my faith, hope, and optimism! Blessings so, so much to you for always, Shelly!

    Sincerely always,

    Sherry Gordon

  2. Thank you Shelley! I'll make my donation and pass this beautifully stated post along. My husband, Jonathan (the ED at A Place Called Home in South LA), says the staff at APCH are already beginning to feel the deep gap left behind by the loss of the Homeboy Industries' programs and staff. Though, to be noted, many of the staff are staying on without pay - until they are unable...
    We are the ones we've been waiting for.