Archive for the ‘Homeboy Industries’ Tag

Sitting in Awe, Not in Judgement   1 comment


I read Tattoos on the Heart several years ago. Gregory Boyle, the Jesuit priest who founded Homeboy Industries (HBI) in Los Angeles, wrote about his experiences working with gang members. Each chapter left me in tears at the heartfelt stories Boyle shared of those attempting and often overcoming daunting challenges of their life circumstances and poor choices.

Barking to the Choir, Boyle’s new book, is more introspective. It has plenty of heartbreaking vignettes of homies facing incredible odds, but its pull on the heartstrings is looser. In both books an abundance of joy fills most pages even in the direst situations; but this time Boyle’s messages about hope and acceptance are tempered with his interpretation of understanding God’s word. This isn’t a bad thing.

Simple acts of kindness, not just from Boyle, but among the marginalized he writes about are moving. Major leaps of faith, again, not just from the author, but among those populating his world are thought-provoking. I’m left to consider blessings in my own life and the positive choices I’ve been able to make because of the family environment I had.

Father Boyle injects a healthy amount of humor while recounting events of those who pass through HBI’s doors. He isn’t preaching, or barking, but he certainly leaves the reader with much to consider. Two ideas, in particular, in the book resonate with me: awe and judgement. The former is what we should aspire to in our interactions with others; the latter is, unfortunately, more prevailing.

Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship
Four Bookmarks
Simon & Schuster, 2017
210 pages

Serving Meals Not Time   Leave a comment

Father Greg Boyle is a rock star in Los Angeles. His status is a reflection of his strong faith; it’s not based on short-lived trends or fickle fashion. He’s revered for his efforts – actions which give more than lip service – to helping former gang members contribute positively to society. He started  Homeboy Industries whose slogan is “Jobs Not Jails,”  in 1988. Homeboy offers a range of services from tattoo removal to education, from counseling to career placement, and boasts several social enterprises, including the Homegirl Café, that put people to work.

The Café is run primarily by women with former gang affiliations or who have lived in dangerous domestic violence situations. The Café, as with the other enterprises, gives people a chance to learn conventional social skills while becoming economically independent.

In LA it’s possible everyone who ventures into the Café knows the story. Although it’s a good one, the fresh, enticing food is the real reason to stop by. Sure, it’s a great cause, but this is far from a charity case. All the women work hard, know the food and serve it with pride. It helps that much of the 100 percent organic produce is grown in Homeboy mini-farms.

Most of the menu items have a Latino flair. Chilaquiles combine fresh corn tortilla chips covered in a green salsa that relies more on flavor than fire. It’s topped with crema fresca and crumbly cotija cheese, and red onions. They’re breakfast super nachos, a great way to jump start the morning. There are a few alternatives to the mostly-spicey entrees, including Blueberry Multi-grain and Quinoa Pancakes. These taste as healthy as they sound, but the refreshing burst of blueberries in almost every bite makes them seem decadent.

Homegirl Café
Four Plates
130 W. Bruno St.
Los Angeles, CA
Breakfast and lunch served Monday through Saturday