Homeboy Industries over the years, the nation's largest gang intervention program started by priest Father Greg in downtown LA, offering job training and placement, tattoo removal, psychological services, anger management classes, legal services, and most of all a community for men and women who are in desperate need of hope. But it wasn't until recently that I had heard about Homegirl Café & Catering, staffed by 30 young women who are in training to learn the various aspects of the food service industry, plating some incredibly fresh and delicious Mexican dishes, most of the produce direct from their own organic garden. Now serving Saturday brunch in addition to weekday breakfast and lunch, I had a couple of friends meet me downtown to kick off our weekend.
Now with more anticipation, we dug into the extensive menu, perplexed as to what to get. The brunch offerings spanned a large variety of Mexican breakfasts, tacos, salads, and unique sandwiches such as Chata's Sandwich (roast beef with spicy apple & tomatillo salsa, red onions & mayo) and Consuelo's Sandwich (homemade jalapeno pesto, panela cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions & mayo).
Thankfully Homeboy’s businesses—the Homeboy bakery, Homeboy Silkscreen and the Homegirl Cafe—are all largely self-sustaining. But the main services that Homeboy provides to approximately 12,000 people each year from gangs all over LA County who come for help are given away free. Since 2008, like many nonprofits, Homeboy has seen its grants and donations slide drastically. Meanwhile, fiscal hard times caused the number of people in need of Homeboy’s services to rise. Now, an estimated $5 million is needed to keep Homeboy going.
In May, Father Greg and his senior staff had to lay off 330 of their 427 employees.
“People are willing to raise tens of millions to save the Hollywood sign and MOCA,” said Greg following the announcement, “and I don’t begrudge that. I love MOCA. I just wish the same level of concern was present when it comes to saving the real, live human beings who come through our doors every day at Homeboy.”
Those wishing to donate to Homeboy Industries can do so here, while supporting Homegirl Café and Homeboy's other businesses will continue to help.
And after such a lovely experience, I personally can't wait to go back. The food is undeniably Angeleno, and loaded with heart.
130 Bruno St. Downtown LA; 323.526.1254