Monday in East LA
Greetings from sunny East LA! This is Abby and Kaycee reporting live from the Dolores Mission!
Not many people can say that they have had the opportunity to see lives changed in a concrete way; but we DID have the chance to see this at Homeboy Industries. The one and only Fr. Greg Boyle originally founded this organization. (Many of you have either read his book or listened to him speak at Carroll earlier this year). Fr. Boyle was sent to the Dolores Mission, where the largest housing projects west of the Mississippi were located and gang related shootings were a weekly occurrence. By working through kinship with the community surrounding the Mission, Fr. Boyle was able to create a space where formation of person could occur and people could turn their lives around. Enemy gang members work side by side making cupcakes, producing t-shirts and graciously serving others.
We first toured Homeboy Silkscreens. We met our tour guide C, a former gang member who turned his life around thanks to Fr. Boyle and Homeboy Industries. He shared with us both his life’s journey and the workings of the silkscreen business.
After our tour, we went to Homegirl Café, where homegirls with attitude will gladly take your order. The food was beyond incredible and the homegirls were even better. Even though there seemed to be an issue remembering who ordered what taco, they served us with smiles and grace.
Our last stop on our Homeboy Industries tour was the building where all the magic happens. G, our phenomenal tour guide, had a story that touched our hearts. The bravery required to turn his life from being an active gang member to a family man was incredible. Not one person in our group was left unaffected by this very genuine, authentic individual. We were shown the tattoo removal area where gang tattoos can be erased, free of charge, by a staff of volunteer doctors. We were also shown the administration end of the program and the many individuals it takes to run such a big industry.
Finally, we worked with the young students of Dolores Mission Catholic School in the Underwings after school program. In order to provide an enrichment activity they would not normally have the opportunity to participate in, our group split in two and worked with either kindergarten through 3rd grade or 4th through 8th grade. The younger students made oobleck, a messy but fun rubbery substance that the younger kids LOVED. The older group made towers out of BBQ skewers and marshmallows. (We definitely have some future engineers on our hands!)
This was by far one of the BEST DAYS EVER!!
We cannot wait to see what tomorrow holds!
Abby and Kaycee