As part of their training at Homegirl Cafe, all of our trainees are encouraged to access the array of support services available at Homeboy Industries. Among the crucial support services we offer are: individual and group mental health therapy, case management, substance abuse counseling, education, employment readiness services, and free tattoo removal procedures.
Tattoos -- particularly visible, gang-related tattoos -- are a key barrier that our trainees face in obtaining employment outside of Homegirl Cafe. The tattoo removal process, while very painful, plays an important role not only in preparing trainees for outside employment, but also in helping trainees to re-identify and re-define themselves. The process helps these women remove the external marks of their former involvement with gangs and the criminal justice system, and it mirrors the transformative process they undergo while participating in the Homegirl Cafe training program.
More than 30 local physicians graciously volunteer their time to help women in the Homegirl Cafe, as well as trainees and community clients from Homeboy Industries, remove their visible, gang-related tattoos and further the process of redirecting their lives, re-entering their communities, and becoming better role models for their children.
In the past three months alone, more then 3,000 women and men have undergone treatments, and more than 13,000 tattoos have been removed. We are grateful to the many supporters who help trainees at Homegirl Cafe and Homeboy Industries display these external signs of internal transformation.
In February, researchers from the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs released results from "Grow. Prep. Serve: Homegirl Cafe Case Study" during an event held at the Homegirl Cafe. The study, which was funded through a grant from the California Endowment, examines the impact of Homegirl Cafe's social enterprise business model and the comprehensive rehabilitative services available at Homeboy Industries on the lives of 50 women who had worked at the cafe for at least six months.
According to the study's authors, "Homegirl Cafe provided both structure and practical support to previously incarcerated women in their attempt to reenter and thrive in mainstream community life. Perhaps the most dramatic illustration of the impact of Homegirl was the fact that not one out of the fifty women interviewed was reincarcerated once she was enrolled in the Homegirl training program or began work as an employee at the Homegirl Cafe."
Women receiving training at the Cafe spoke eloquently of the program's impact on their lives. "They changed my world," on trainee said, "now I want to make a change in the world." Another client had this to say: "I want to make my commuity healthier -- I want to make sure it's a good and safe place for everyone." Like other programs offered at Homeboy Industries, the training program at Homegirl Cafe has a broad impact on the health and safety of individual trainees, their families, and the communities they call home.
To read more about Homegirl Cafe, please access the full case study, here: http://www.calendow.org/uploadedFiles/HomeGirlCafe_Booklet.pdf.
Homeboy Industries provides hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and recently incarcerated men and women, allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of our community. Our free programs - including counseling, education, tattoo removal, job training, and placement - help these young men and women to become leaders in their families and communities. From the Homeboy Bakery to Homeboy Silkscreen & Embroidery, our social enterprises provide safe spaces to develop important job skills while also adjusting to a lifestyle of change and leadership.
While our social enterprises support about 30% of our budget, they have a “double bottom line.” We strive both to operate successful social enterprises as businesses, but also to make a real impact on the lives of our trainees through critical services and true job training. For this reason, we overstaff our social enterprises and allow our trainees to take time in their workday to work on themselves; an hour for a tattoo removal appointment or a therapy session is not usual in a business, but it is a fundamental piece of the job at Homeboy. For this reason, we rely on public support to sustain our free services and the training aspects of the Homegirl Café, the Homeboy Diner at City Hall and the rest of our social enterprises.
Former rivals soon find themselves working together, experiencing true friendship in place of gang life. One of our social enterprises is the Homegirl Cafe, which provides comprehensive training in the restaurant and urban farming industries, with wrap-around support services for our primarily female staff. The cafe employs primarily females because of the specific issues that these young women face, from domestic violence to single parenthood. Since January 2012, more than 15 young women have moved onto jobs in the restaurant, growing, and hospitality industries!
This fall, we are looking to upgrade components of our catering, gardening, and kitchen programs. The Homegirl Café opened in its current location in 2007, and since then our equipment and dining area have taken a lot of wear and tear! We’d love for you to support our upgrades, from new blenders for catering to high chairs in our dining room!