My wife Steph and I were tickled pink to discover ourselves in the above picture posted on Homeboy Industries’ Facebook page (and then their official website) the other day — especially since it is our favorite local charity / lunch spot, and Fr. Gregory Boyle (the organization’s founder and director) is Steph’s hero (and one of mine too).
When the photo was taken, we were there on a class field-trip for the “Buddhist Ministry and the Prison-Industrial Complex” course that I’m co-teaching at University of the West with my friend and colleague Jane Naomi Iwamura. (The others at our table are some of my students.) You can see the syllabus for our course here.
If you’re not familiar with Homeboy Industries, it is the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the country. At their website, they say:
Homeboy provides job training positions and free social services for formerly gang involved and previously incarcerated men and women. Each client is assigned a Case Manager on day one who helps them set a goal plan that may include: obtaining a high school diploma or GED, a course of action for release from parole or probation, and a general game plan for needed services, classes, and skills in order to find outside employment.
Homeboy has also launched several social enterprises as part of this work, including Homeboy Bakery, Homegirl Cafe & Catering, Homeboy Silkscreen & Embroidery, Homeboy/girl Merchandise, Homeboy Diner at Los Angeles City Hall, and Homeboy Farmers Markets.
I could say more, but why don’t you treat yourself and listen to the mighty Fr. Boyle in what is maybe the best TED talk ever…