Posts Tagged ‘Gang Prevention’
“This is the story of a remarkable odd couple.” That’s the description of the new film “G-DOG” about Jesuit Father Greg Boyle and the former gang members, or homies, he’s served and befriended since 1992, when he founded Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles.
Homeboy Industries helps former gang members learn skills to better their lives and provides jobs in its bakery, café and t-shirt store.
“G-DOG” was directed by Academy Award-winning documentarian Freida Mock and had its U.S. debut this past June at the Los Angeles Film Festival.
Mock says she was inspired to make the film after seeing Fr. Boyle’s book “Tattoos on the Heart.” She remembers thinking, “A priest, kids, gangs and love? What’s this all about?”
The film, which is slated for theatrical release next year, introduces audiences to Fr. Boyle and the homies he helps. It also depicts a tough year for Homeboy Industries, with the possibility that the businesses will have to close because of challenging economic times.
Variety’s review said, “In an era with a paucity of real heroes, a genuine one emerges in “G-Dog”: the inexhaustible Jesuit priest Greg Boyle, whose Homeboy Industries has saved countless lives in Los Angeles’ gang-plagued neighborhoods.”
For more, visit the film’s website, www.gdogthemovie.com, where you can meet the cast and view clips.
Jesuit Brother Pat Douglas, of the Wisconsin Province, is a youth counselor at the St. Francis Mission in South Dakota, and he works with young men at the juvenile detention center on the Lakota Rosebud Reservation. He sees his ministry as a way of making an impact on young people in trouble.
Spirituality is very strong here, Br. Douglas says. The Lakota people see no separation between counseling and spirituality.
Douglas has developed a mentoring program for young men, “many [who are] active in gangs and from families plagued by alcoholism and abuse.
“I’m all for consequences,” Douglas says, “but if we do not address the hurts these young men have had since they were children, they will keep hurting others. To be empathetic to a perpetrator does not mean you condone what they do.”
Douglas sees Jesuit spirituality coming alive through his work.
“I pray before and after I meet with the guys,” he says. “I also know the limitations of my skills, and have many times asked questions or offered advice that I know is beyond me. I consistently feel the Holy Spirit working with me and these young men.”
For more on Jesuits engaged in prison ministry, visit the Wisconsin Province website.
Jesuit Father Greg Boyle received the 2011 Loaves & Fishes Award for Faith in Action, presented by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Francisco in March for his nearly 25 years of building what is now the nation’s largest gang intervention and re-entry program, Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles.
Fr. Boyle said he has never met anyone who was seeking something when he joined a gang. “They are always fleeing from something,” he said on March 4 at St. Ignatius Church in San Francisco. “There are no exceptions.”
Boyle’s career choice of working with the poor and the marginalized took shape when he joined the Society of Jesus and was confirmed when he worked in Bolivia after his ordination. He was then assigned to Dolores Mission Church in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, ground zero for gangs in a challenged area.
In 1988, Boyle started a “Jobs for a Future” program at Dolores Mission, and, in 1992 he launched a business to employ former gang members, Homeboy Bakery. Today businesses include Homeboy Silkscreen, Homeboy Maintenance and Homegirl Café.
He said, “Hope is the antidote. The best delivery system of hope to kids who are struggling, especially younger ones, is a loving, caring adult who pays attention to them. That’s the way it works.” For more on Boyle, visit Catholic San Francisco.
Jesuit Father Greg Boyle was a guest on The Dr. Phil show that aired in December on “Trouble Teens Turnaround.” Fr. Boyle, who is executive director of Homeboy Industries, a gang-intervention and rehab center, discussed strategies to help troubled kids.
“We get about 15,000 folks who walk through our doors every year, gang members trying to redirect their lives,” said Boyle, who is also author of “Tattoos on the Heart” (#12 on the Los Angeles Times bestseller list for December 26, 2010). “They might come for tattoo removal and discover that we can locate a job for them or maybe they need counseling.”
One former gang member talked about how Boyle helped him. “Upon release [from prison], I came and talked to Fr. Greg, and he just signed me up and told me, ‘My son, come back Tuesday.’ After that, I’ve been working here ever since. Without Homeboy Industries, I’d probably be back in jail right now.”
“Los Angeles is the gang capital of the world,” said Boyle. “In L.A. County, we have 1,100 gangs and 86,000 gang members. I buried my first young person in 1988. I buried my 170th this morning.”
Boyle said the kids need to have an alternative to gangs. “You want to be able to say ‘Leave that behind; come over here and we’ll help you. We’ll give you a job and make sure you stay in school.’”
For more on the episode, visit the Dr. Phil website.
The country’s largest anti-gang program, Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, has laid off most of its employees because of a decline in donations.
Jesuit Father Gregory Boyle, who started Homeboy Industries in the Boyle Heights neighborhood during the height of the city’s gang wars 20 years ago, said 300 people were laid off, including all senior staff and administrators.
The organization will continue to offer tattoo removal and counseling services but the silk-screening factory, landscaping company and other businesses where former rival gang members work side by side will be shut down. The Homegirl Cafe, which employs 100 people near downtown, will stay open.
The acclaimed anti-gang program ran into financial trouble last year when contributions dried up and government contracts were cut. For two decades, Homeboy Industries has offered counseling, removed tattoos and helped gang members find jobs. Its motto: “Nothing stops a bullet like a job.”
But Boyle said no amount of campaigning and fundraising could make up the roughly $5 million the organization needed to operate. He said pleas for donations had resulted in some help, but not nearly enough.
Boyle recently published a memoir about ministering with gang members entitled “Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion.” Read more about Homeboy Industries precarious financial situation via The Los Angeles Times.
To donate to help Homeboy Industries, please click here to be taken to their online donation page.You can also watch Boyle speak about the mission of Homeboy Industries in the video below: