“Once you have a taste of being

cherished, there’s nothing else like it”

In the heart of downtown Los Angeles,

California, ex-gang members are learning

what it feels like to be cherished. Growing

up, a lot of them did not know there were

options outside of being a gang member.

From being in an environment where they

were not recognized for their own value,

they are now recognizing their potential.

Homeboy Industries, the world’s largest

gang rehabilitation and re-entry program,

allows for the transformation of lifestyles

and mindsets. Its founder, Father Greg

Boyle SJ, leads the efforts to make former

gang members not only feel like part of

a community, but he also guides them to

contribute to the community in their own

positive way.

Father Boyle realized his calling after

witnessing the devastating increase in

gang violence in his community starting

in the late 1980s. By meeting people

where they were without judgment of the

mistakes they may have made, he showed

them there was a positive direction in

which they can live their lives. He also

taught them how to pay it forward,

teaching others how to recognize their

own value which led to the creation of

Homeboy Industries. Homeboy Industries

provides education, jobs, and resources

to individuals who seek guidance.

The “Homeboys” and “Homegirls”

(members of the program) were once the

unseen, living on the fringe of society.

Father Boyle’s mission was to reach out

and let them know they actually were

seen, showing all people compassion and

kinship. He recently shared this message

during his visit to the Regis Jesuit High

School community.


“Stand at the margins with the poor,

the powerless, and the voiceless.

Stand with those whose dignity has

been denied. Stand with those whose

burdens are more than they can

bear,” said Boyle. “Stand with the

disposables so the day will come when

we stop throwing people away.”

Ashley and David, both Homeboys

who work at Homeboy Industries,

accompanied Father Boyle and

shared their personal experiences.

Ashley spoke of his struggles growing

up managing his anger as he found

himself lost in gang life. He described

how several of the conflicts he faced

in his life when he was younger was

heightened by his sense of pride and

his unwillingness to let go of the past

and move on. Ashley was fortunate

enough to remove himself from that

life and chose to take a chance with

Father Boyle and check out what

Homeboy Industries was really about.

“A lot of my friends that I grew up

with are either dead or doing life in

prison right now. I thank God, I made

it out and I’m still here.” Ashley said.

“You can feel the love when you step

in. It’s turned me into a different


David, another Homeboy who spoke

to the community, shared details about

his childhood in and out of juvenile

justice centers and prisons as he got

older. He too was heavily involved

with gangs. During his incarceration,

separated and isolated, David

knew that this was not the life

he wanted to live. He wanted

to improve his situation; he

wanted to improve his life.

“When I got out I tried

to get my life together:

Buying a house

starting fresh,

raising kids,”

he said.

David unfortunately “fell

backward” after his sister was

killed; she was someone who

always accepted and loved him even

knowing the mistakes he made in

life. He wanted to get revenge for his

sister’s murder, but he did not want

anyone else to ever feel the pain that

he felt when he lost her.

“She was my everything. She

understood me, she knew my


With the guidance of mentors at

Homeboy Industries, both Ashley

and David have taken leadership

positions guiding new homeboys

and homegirls to make responsible

and worthwhile decisions in their

lives. “I am thankful for Fr. Greg and

homeboy industries for giving me my

life back,” David said.

Both men displayed true

vulnerability when they described

how Homeboy Industries transformed

their lives. They spoke from their


Homeboy Industries continues to

change the outlook of those wanting

to improve their quality of life. It is

not just the name of a company, it’s

bigger than just a name. The family

resulting from Father Boyle’s efforts

has created a place where people

are forgiven for their wrong doings,

and where they can learn to forgive


“You may not care whether you live

or die, but if there is someone who

sees you, cherishes you, you have

a chance,” Father Boyle said.