Father Gregory Boyle, founder of Los Angeles’ Homeboy Industries, the world’s largest gang rehabilitation program, will be among the keynote speakers at the Cal State Fullerton Mihaylo College Gianneschi Center G3X Conference, which provides continuing education and networking for the philanthropic community. Register today to attend.
For the past 31 years, Los Angeles Jesuit Priest Fr. Greg Boyle has dedicated himself to creating space and opportunity for former gang members and formerly incarcerated individuals who want to leave behind the despair and destruction of gang violence and begin to live fulfilling lives. Boyle’s Homeboy Industries is an organization that provides rehabilitation and job training programs for gang members and at-risk youth. It includes tattoo removal and therapy services as well as housing several businesses including Homeboy Bakery, Homegirl Café & Catering and Homeboy Silkscreen & Embroidery.
Boyle will share insights with current and aspiring nonprofit and social enterprise professionals at Cal State Fullerton’s G3X Conference on Wednesday, Aug. 14. He hopes his lecture will impact those desiring to make a tangible difference in the lives of the underprivileged.
“Anyone who feels so inclined to move to the margins so the margins get erased” would benefit from hearing the talk, says Boyle.
Ministry in L.A.’s Toughest Neighborhoods Sets the Stage for a Transformative Model
For Boyle, there isn’t a single moment in which everything fell together to found Homeboy Industries. Instead, amidst the deadliest decade in L.A. gang violence, the cleric’s ministry work on the front lines convinced him to seek positive change.
“We began trying to respond to the fact that I was burying so many young people killed by gang violence. Since then, we’ve evolved into who we are now. I was a pastor in the poorest parish in the city, nestled in the middle of two housing projects where eight gangs were at war with each other. I was just a pastor trying to tend to the folks in my community,” says Boyle. “Now, there’s no place on planet Earth where more gang members walk through the door trying to redirect their lives and seek healing. No place where gang members show up more than here.”
While based on Bruno Street in Downtown Los Angeles’ Chinatown district, Homeboy Industries serves every zip code with known gang involvement in Los Angeles County.
“I’m in 25 detention facilities where I say mass and hand out my card,” he says. “We’ve been around for 31 years, so there isn’t a gang member in L.A. County who doesn’t know who we are what we do. But they have to freely walk in the door, since we don’t exist for those who need help, only for those who want it. Just like any rehab, you have to willingly cooperate in your own healing.”
The bestselling author of two books, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion and Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship, Boyle encourages those seeking a philanthropic career to not be so focused on success, but rather faithfulness.
“I don’t really do success, I don’t really care about success,” he says. “I agree with Mother Teresa, who said, ‘we’re not called to be successful, we’re called to be faithful.’ You try to stay faithful to an approach and waiting to stand with the demonized so the demonizing will stop.”
Widening Your Horizons at G3X
Boyle’s lecture will be part of the Innovations in Program Design track at the G3X Conference, which will feature workshops with Laura Roach, director of nonprofit engagement at Drucker Institute; Krista Driver, CEO of the Mariposa Women & Family Center; and Becks Heyhoe of United Way of Orange County.