Homeboy Industries, The Home Of Second Chances

Homeboy+Industries%2C+The+Home+Of+Second+Chances

Juan Agraz, Editor

Homeboy Industries, a program in LA that didn’t quite start off with the right foot. A priest named Father Greg Boyle, created this program with the sole purpose of helping the former gang members and former inmates get off the streets and give them a second chance in life, a second chance that society would deny them. From legal help, to therapy help, Homeboy Industries have been providing the right help to each person that walks through its doors for the past thirty years.

On March 31, 2022, a group of six went on a field trip to the East side of Los Angeles. Early in the morning we boarded the bus and got ready to experience something that none of us were ready for. We arrived at Boyle Heights where Homeboys is located, and when we got off the bus we were immediately received with warm welcomings from the members that were in the area. We sat down at the benches that were near the parking lot, and then a man came and started talking to us. His name was Omar Perez, he had been with homeboys for a while now and I didn’t have an idea that he was our tour guide until he started to lead us into the facility.

As we walked into the main building, Omar began telling us a little bit about his story. Omar is a father of two kids, and when he is not in Homeboy Industries, he is the coach for his son’s soccer team. Before he was introduced to Homeboy Industries and Father Greg, he used to live by “living to die”, but now he says that now he is “living to live”. It took him six tries to get his life back on track, going back and forth because he really never had any motivation to do the change. But every time he returned to the industry, the people there always welcomed him back with a smile and never asked him about his whereabouts. On one occasion, he said that he never thought they would let him come back, nor would he go back if he felt like they were judging him. During his last attempt, he was very motivated to finally take the decision to make the big change. The motive behind this decision was that he got shot in the head. He survived the shot but he had to learn how to talk again. His smile is still slanted, but it is the realist smile ever seen.

“No matter how many mistakes you make, they will always welcome you back until they are able to get to you.””

— Omar Perez

Homeboy Industries is about chances, you will get as many as you need to realize the help is there for you (Omar needed 6). Homeboy Industries is the largest gang rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world. For over thirty years, they have stood as a beacon of hope in Los Angeles to provide training and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated people, allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of LA’s community. Homeboy Industries serves high-risk, formerly gang-involved men and women with a continuum of free services and programs and operates several socialentrepries that serve as job-training sites. 

Some services include: Art Academy, Tattoo Removal, Workforce Development, Solar Panel Training, Mental Health Services, Domestic Violence, Legal Services, Case Management, Substance Abuse, etc.. The best part about this, is that you don’t need to be part Of Homeboy Industries to receive any of these services. There have been nearly about 12000 people treated to get tattoo removals yearly, but Homeboy Industries just opened up again after being shut down for some time due to the pandemic.

Lots of the people who have gone through Homeboy Industries have been successful. Our chaperon, Ms. Sandoval-Rodriguez, read about a single mom who is going to Law School to become a lawyer. She has removed a substantial amount of tattoos from her face.  She was also a huge Taco Bell scholarship winner. Homeboy Industries has helped many change and make dreams come true. Just like Richard Cabral, an Emmy Nominee, who was involved in gangs, imprisoned and when given the life changing opportunity, Hollywood comes knocking. Another story that was told to Ms. Sandoval-Rodriguez, was about a scout that was looking for previous gang members for a small role in a Hollywood movie. Richard Cabral ended up loving this because he got himself an agent and went on to become a very famous actor.

On the last part of the tour, the group met a man by the name Osvaldo Fernandez. He had been in and out of jail ever since the age of thirteen. during his speech he went on to say that it was the first time he has been out of jail for fourteen months continuously in over twenty years.

“Nobody wanted to have anything to do with Homeboy Industries when it started, but now everyone wants to be part of Homeboy Industries.””

— Osvaldo Fernandez