LA priest to discuss innovative programs to assist Latino gang members

by Dennis Brown

Rev. Greg Boyle, S.J., founder and director of a widely acclaimed youth violence prevention program in East Los Angeles, will discuss his innovative efforts to assist Latino gang members at 6:30 p.m. April 10 (Tuesday) in the Jordan Auditorium of the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business.p. Cosponsored by Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns and Institute for Latino Studies, the talk is free and open to the public.p. While serving from 1986-92 as pastor of the Dolores Mission, Father Boyle witnessed the gang activity and related problems surrounding the poorest church in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He responded by founding Jobs For A Future (JFF) and Homeboys Industries, both dedicated to helping Latino gang members find employment and create new lives for themselves.p. Started in 1988, Jobs For A Future is an employment referral center offered at no charge to employers. It is targeted toward men and women in East Los Angeles, with an emphasis on assisting at-risk youths involved in gangs make a successful transition to the work environment.p. JFF provides coaching in job readiness, interview skills, resume preparation and appropriate attire for the work place. It also offers free tattoo removal, giving priority to people with tattoos that inhibit their ability to find employment. After placing people in jobs that fit their qualifications and needs, JFF continues to monitor their progress and provide follow-up services as necessary.p. Homeboy Industries was founded in 1992 as the economic development branch of JFF. It includes five small businesses that are staffed by former gang members who work together to produce apparel and merchandise bearing the Homeboy logo, make baked goods, and provide cleaning services.p. Both Jobs For A Future and Homeboy Industries operate on two guiding principles that have become community slogans: “Nothing Stops a Bullet like a Job” and “Jobs not Jails.”p. A native of Los Angeles, Father Boyle earned his bachelor’s degree in English from Gonzaga University, his master’s degree in English from Loyola Marymount University, his master of divinity degree from the Weston School of Theology, and a third master’s degree from the Jesuit School of Theology. Before serving as pastor of the Delores Mission, he taught at Loyola High School, worked with the Christian Based Communities of Cochabanba, Bolivia, and was chaplain of the Islas Marias penal colony in Mexico and of Folsom State Prison in California.p. Father Boyle’s life story and efforts to assist Latino gang members in East Los Angeles have been chronicled in a book titled “Father Greg and His Homeboys.” He also has been featured by “60 Minutes” and People magazine.

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