Monday, March 31, 2014

Bringing Purpose and Peace to Gang Members

serves high-risk, formerly gang-involved men and women with a continuum of free services and programs, and operates seven social enterprises that serve as job-training sites.

--The nonprofit's mission statement

Here's a brilliant idea to stop gang violence: Just get the rival gang members together in a nice kitchen and have them bake bread. Are you laughing? Well, stop, because it really works.

When Father Greg Boyle, a Jesuit priest, started Homeboy Industries 26 years ago, it was a small bakery in a gang-torn neighborhood in downtown L.A. That bakery led to a catering service and a café.
It looks as nice as any Starbucks.

Homeboy Industries is swarming with activity today. Upstairs, there's a GED class; downstairs, gang tattoo removal. There are counseling services and classrooms where former gang members are learning how to do a job interview.

Father Greg or Father G, as he's called around here, works with 15,000 former gang members a year. His success rate is astounding. Seventy percent of people who walk through these doors don't return to prison.

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