Skip to main content

Homeboy Industries: “Nothing Stops a Bullet Like a Job”

By Margaux Kay LaPointe, ‘11

Father Greg Boyle, S.J., founder of Homeboy Industries, presented the lecture, “Nothing Stops a Bullet Like a Job,” sponsored by the Offices of Mission Effectiveness and Service Learning, on Tuesday, Oct. 7. The mission of Homeboy Industries is to assist at-risk and formerly gang-involved youth to become positive and contributing members of society through job placement, training, and education.

Barbara Wall, Ph.D., special assistant to the president for mission effectiveness and associate professor of philosophy, introduced Boyle and explained his social work. “Homeboy Industries, located in downtown Los Angeles, is recognized as a model of intervention for gang members,” Wall said. The organization is modeled after Jobs for a Future (JFF), created by Father Boyle in 1988 when he served as pastor of the Dolores Mission parish.

Homeboy Industries directs five businesses: Homeboy Bakery, Homeboy Silkscreen, Homeboy Maintenance, Homeboy/Homegirl Merchandise, and Homegirl Café. There are an estimated 86,000 gang members in LA, and these five businesses work with eight rival gangs; the gang members work side by side. In addition to job training, the program provides tattoo removal.

Father Boyle explained the ideals that inspired this project and encouraged audience support of this vision.

“There is a common vision that unites us together,” Father Boyle said. He described a community that works together, “a community of kinship.” This focus is “about kinship, not about service provider and service recipient.” Father Boyle imagines a circle with God where no one stands outside. To make this a reality, he encourages individuals who “stand at the margins” to expand the circle. He believes that humanity would not have to work for justice because there would be “no ‘us and them’…just ‘us.’”

Father Boyle believes that “the problem is, of course, that gang members aren’t hopeful enough.” This hopeless environment is the cause of violence, he said.

Father Boyle’s rehabilitation program is for those that want it. However, he has seen opposition to his program because some in the outside world sees it as a waste of time. Father Boyle disagrees; rather, he rather believes that moving to the margins and expanding the circle “will not disappoint, and if it delays, we can wait.”

In his lecture, Father Boyle told the stories of former gang members with whom he worked, ones that disprove the opposition.

For instance, Father Boyle said that he helped revive Bandit. Bandit ended up running his own business, and his daughter was the first person in his family to go to college. Father Boyle congratulated him, saying, “I give you credit for the man you’ve chosen to become… I’m proud of you.” The people Father Boyle works with want to become contributive members of society, and Father Boyle helps them on their first step.

Some of the workers at Homeboy Industries, including Gabriel, were invited to speak at the White House. Father Boyle witnessed a moment of kinship when Gabriel told a flight attendant his story, and she began to cry. Father Boyle explained to him that “she recognized you as God’s.”

Margaux Kay LaPointe, ’11, is a sophomore from Lebanon, Pa. She is an intern in the Office of Communications in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Villanova University. Margaux is majoring in communication with a specialization in public relations.

Media Contact

Jennifer Schu

Director of Communications, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

jennifer.schu@villanova.edu

Share your story

Know a current student, faculty member or alumni doing great work? Please email your nominations and help us tell their story.