Homeboy Industries: Gratitude for Second Chances

Homeboy Industries: Gratitude for Second Chances

By OZY Editors

A small sign of thanks is displayed in a common area at Homeboy Industries headquarters in Los Angeles, CA


Homeboy Industries is a gang-rehabilitation program that takes “Everybody deserves a second chance” to the next level. This is our way of saying thank you for all that they’ve done.

By OZY Editors

“Nothing stops a bullet like a job.”

That is Homeboy Industries’ motto. The Los Angeles-based program, founded in 1992 by Father Greg Boyle, provides jobs, job training, adult education classes, tattoo removal, anger-mangement sessions and the gift of a second chance to hundreds of former gang members, ex-convicts and high-risk youth. It is the largest gang-rehabilitation program in the country and provides its members with skills for not only getting a job but coping with life after gangs, prison, or both. They run a host of small businesses which are used as transitional employment including a bakery, a cafe and catering company, and a silkscreen and embroidery company.

Homeboy Industries provides its members with skills for not only getting a job, but also coping with life after gangs, prison or both.

Washington, D.C.-based photojournalist Melissa Golden spent four days photographing Homeboy Industries in 2012. She says she was a little intimidated by the former gang members at first, but as she ”got to know the people behind the tattoos,” she says, she found that ”these people were there in search of redemption. They had no place else to go and were looking to make a new life for themselves.” The people she met were sweet, considerate and friendly, but most of all, she says, there was a theme of thankfulness.

“Everybody I talked to at Homeboy Industries was so genuinely grateful to be there.”

That much is clear in the striking photos shared below. Happy Thanksgiving. 

View of lobby from second floor looking downward onto meeting attendees

Employees and visitors listen to announcements during the mandatory morning meeting.

Man with tattooed face and black t-shirt sitting for a portrait

At the time of this photograph, Mario Lundes, 32, of South Central L.A., had been working at Homeboy Industries for six months.

2 guys on each side of a silkscreen machine that is blue.

Alex Mercado, 26, and Edgar Nuño, 22, work together in Homeboy Industries’ silkscreen division.

Man with tattoos on his face looking downward as Father Greg puts both his hands on his shoulders

Gilbert Urdialez III, 31, of East L.A., wipes away tears with a bandana as Father Gregory Boyle gives him a blessing. 

Woman speaking outdoors to group of people

With her teen daughter by her side, Adela Juarez addresses a class gathered in the garden behind the Homeboy Industries headquarters. 

Woman with white tshirt and red shirt underneath smiling and posing for a portrait

At the time of this photograph, Pamela Herrera, 27, of Artesia, had been working at Homeboy Industries for four months.

A showing of a man's arm with a tattoo removing device emitting light onto his hand

A former gang member receives a free tattoo-removal treatment at Homeboy Industries.

Production line in kitchen with 3 women with blue aprons and hairnets on

Employees work and train at the Homegirl Cafe, the popular eatery located inside the Homeboy Industries headquarters.

Man's hands writing a check out on his desk

In his office at Homeboy Industries, Father Gregory Boyle writes a check out to a woman who’s experiencing financial difficulties.

Man sitting for portrait with white baker smock and tattooed face

At the time of this photograph, Noe Cruz, 27, of Cerritos, had been working at Homeboy Industries for three weeks; he has received tattoo-removal services there for about two years.

Man with tattooed neck sitting opposite side of Father Greg's desk on left, with Father Greg on right. Many frames photos and prints on the wall behind both of them

Saul Martinez, 19, of South Central L.A., meets with Father Gregory Boyle in his office at the Homeboy Industries headquarters. 

Man with tattoed face is weighing dough wearing a hairnet and smock

Noe Cruz measures dough in the Homeboy Industries bakery in Los Angeles. 

2 Men at the Homeboy stand inside a grocery store speaking to customers

Joe Durantes and Lorenzo Fernandez hand out samples of Homeboy Industries tortilla chips and salsa.

Father Greg outside with another man talking on the sidewalk. The enitre Homeboy Building can be seen behind them

Father Gregory Boyle talks with a young man in front of the Homeboy Industries headquarters.