Homeboy Industries

Homeboy Industries provides hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men and women, allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of our community.
Dec 15, 2014

Tacos and Transformation

Homeboy Food Truck
Homeboy Food Truck

Since its opening in 2007, Homegirl Café has been a destination for Angelenos who enjoy “Mexican food with a twist.” The café is also a safe, encouraging training ground for the women who work there. Under the leadership Café Manager Arlin Crane, Homegirl Café is constantly trying new things; last year we began selling tamales made from scratch for the holidays, in keeping with Mexican tradition. We also invite volunteer groups to participate in “tamaladas,” tamale-making parties at which former gang members and volunteers work side by side, sharing food and stories.

Homeboy Industries also recently launched the Homeboy Food Truck, which employs several alumni from Homegirl Café. The truck specializes in chilaquiles—fried tortilla strips with toppings like red mole chicken, chipotle skirt steak, veggies, and cotija cheese—and also serves up tacos, sandwiches, and pastries.

In the past year, 39 trainees have worked at Homegirl Café and received wrap-around services at Homeboy Industries, including case management, education, counseling, and tattoo removal. Fifty trainees (including café workers and those in our other food-related social enterprises) received California ServSafe Food Handler’s permits. Homeboy graduates went on to work for companies such as DeLuscious Cookies, Little Mama’s Café, and Robek’s Juice.

Delicious food is a means to a more important end: helping women who’ve faced nearly impossible hardships rediscover their own worth. A trainee named Lily recently said she now tries to see her the challenges she’s faced “not as my enemy but my dearest friend, allowing it to bring out the best…. Homeboy Industries has allowed me to accept my past as a wonderful part of me. It helped me see my strengths and how important I am.”

Jul 10, 2014

Employment is on the Menu at Homegirl Cafe

Homegirl Cafe alumna Laneshia
Homegirl Cafe alumna Laneshia

At Homeboy we maintain that “Nothing Stops a Bullet Like a Job,” but it takes a village to build real careers. That’s where our Employment Services department comes in: They maintain relationships with dozens of “felon-friendly” companies and help place Homeboy alumni (as well as other community members who seek out our services) in jobs that match their skills and interests.

Homeboy’s partner companies agree with Father Greg, who often says to trainees, “You are not the worst thing you’ve ever done.” Thanks to our partners’ firm belief in second chances, Homegirl Cafe trainees have gone on to work in restaurants, grocery stores, and more. Laneshia, pictured above, got hired as a chef at a Beverly Hills restaurant when she finished her 18-month training program at Homegirl Café.

In the first quarter of 2014:

  • 5 Homeboy trainees received a California ServSafe Foodhandler’s permit.
  • 18 trainees participated in resume-building sessions.
  • 14 trainees participated in mock interviews.
  • 18 trainees participated in interviews for outside jobs.
  • 11 trainees were placed in supermarket or grocery store jobs.

Homegirl Café trainees learn every aspect of food service, from ordering ingredients from wholesalers to working as a line cook to waiting tables. They’ve also been adding new menu items with help from Café Manager Arlin Crane. Gluten-free guests can now get tacos on nopal (cactus) leaves instead of a tortilla, and the Peruvian beans were an instant hit.

Homegirl Café trainees learn every aspect of food service, from ordering ingredients from wholesalers to working as a line cook to waiting tables. They’ve also been adding new menu items with help from Café Manager Arlin Crane. Gluten-free guests can now get tacos on nopal (cactus) leaves instead of a tortilla, and the Peruvian beans were an instant hit.

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Apr 9, 2014

Women of Homegirl Cafe are Lo Maximo (the Best)

Homegirl Cafe workers at last year
Homegirl Cafe workers at last year's Lo Maximo

Each year Homeboy Industries, which provides support and job training for formerly gang involved and previously incarcerated men and women, celebrates the achievements of its trainees at the Lo Maximo Awards, our annual benefit dinner. It’s an exciting night for the senior staff, trainees, and generous donors who attend. Trainees love dressing up in their finest gowns and suits (many of which are donated by Homeboy supporters) and being recognized for positive accomplishments. Lo Maximo, which means “the best of the best” in Spanish, is especially meaningful to trainees who may have only gotten attention in the past when they were in trouble.

This year the women of Homegirl Café are taking a leadership role. Café Manager Arlin Crane reports that, for the first time, they’ve planned every detail of the event, from the recipes for the reception to the table designs. And they’ve done it all while taking the difficult steps necessary to transform their lives: attending classes and 12-step meetings, seeking counseling, removing tattoos, and more. In the past few months, three Homegirl Café trainees have gotten their drivers’ licenses. Another regained custody of her daughter from the foster care system.

It’s all in a day’s work at Homegirl Café.

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