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On the Town: Father Gregory Boyle helps gang members get out

February 14, 2012|By Ruth Sowby
  • Cabrini member Mary Arevalo asks Father Greg Boyle to sign her Spanish copy of his book, "Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion."
Cabrini member Mary Arevalo asks Father Greg Boyle to…

Homeboy Industries came to Glendale in the form of twinkly eyed founder Father Greg Boyle. He used his motto, “Nothing Stops a Bullet like a Job,” to describe the flurry of small industries for which he hires reformed gang members. On Thursday, Father Boyle spoke to close to 75 members and guests of the Cabrini Literary Guild. Oakmont Country Club, completing several months of renovations, played host.

After a blessing on the food by Father Paul Hruby and a luncheon of beef tenderloins, Cabrini President Mary Andrade introduced Boyle. After burying 180 young men from the eight gangs in his parish, Boyle decided to do something. He started the Dolores Mission Alternative School for at-risk students and in 1992 founded Homeboy Bakery. Homeboy tortillas can be found in downtown L.A.'s Grand Central Market. Homeboy chips and salsa are sold at Ralphs and Food for Less. Boyle also began the largest gang rehab in the country, serving 15,000 gang members. The rehab includes anger management therapy, parenting and free tattoo removal. Three laser machines turn out 800 tattoo removal treatments each month.


More recent industries include the Homeboy Diner, Los Angeles City Hall's only eatery, and the Homegirl Café at Alameda and Bruno, also in L.A. Boyle humorously referred to his young charges there as, “waitresses with attitude.” Altogether, Boyle employs 365 workers — all are gang members, all are on probation. But he keeps his employees in check, “We drug test every day.”

A lively question-and-answer session ended the formal portion of the afternoon. Boyle generously stayed to sign his bestselling book, “Tattoos on the Heart.” Cabrini member Mary Arevalo has four of Boyle's books in Spanish and four in English. She had Boyle sign the Spanish translation of his book to her husband, Luis, currently in hospice care.

Cabrini members are looking forward to their annual fundraiser, “It's Mardi Gras!,” on March 3.

For 15 years the Northwest Glendale Lions Club has held its Community Appreciation Award Dinner. On Thursday, Burbank's Castaway was the setting in which about 70 Lions and guests honored the Glendale Unified School District's Board of Education, headed by President Joylene Wagner and Vice President Christine Walters.

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