Help women leave gang life at the Homegirl Cafe!

by Homeboy Industries
Vetted
Angie
Angie

Since the launch of our 18-month training model, the women of Homegirl Café have benefited not just from the job skills they’ve learned and the income they’ve taken home, but from Homeboy Industries’ many other services. Caseworkers work with each trainee to craft a plan that may include psychotherapy, substance abuse counseling, parenting classes and/or arts programming. Our trauma-informed clinical services ensure that trainees have the self-esteem that is critical to success on the job and in life. Trainees also have access to GED classes, one-on-one tutoring and our charter high school.

The women who come to Homeboy often face a unique set of challenges, including family reunification, domestic violence and sex trafficking. Classes like Building Relationships for Women help address these needs.

At the start of the 18-month period, trainees work on the maintenance crew and have time to take classes and work on themselves. As their training becomes more advanced, and they are eventually assigned to externships or one of Homeboy’s social enterprises, trainees scale back on classes and clinical services; at this point, they’re ready to integrate with the larger community.

One of the social enterprises, Homegirl Café, provides a safe space for women to develop positive relationships with other women. The café has been integral in the lives of trainees like Angie, whose smiling face greets people at the bakery counter each day. Gang violence was part of Angie’s family life growing up, but as a single mother of four, she wanted her children to have more stability and better opportunities. Her income at the café has allowed her to provide for her children, the oldest of whom she is now sending to college. Angie’s story is just one of many examples of how the Homeboy model breaks the cycle of intergenerational violence.

At Homeboy Industries and Homegirl Cafe, we help formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated men, women and youth redirect their lives and become contributing members of our community.

To meet these goals, we provide a variety of different services. Since the beginning of 2013:

  • 220 people per month have participated in our paid job training program and have received individual case management. Homegirl Cafe maintains a staff of about 30 women (and a few men) at all times.
  • 140 trainees per month have received free individual mental health and substance abuse treatment.
  • 400-500 people per month have participated in classes and support groups.
  • 80 new students have enrolled in the solar panel installation training and certification program.
  • 960 people per month have participated in tattoo removal procedures.

All of these services are provided free of charge.

Homeboy Industries has many positive outcomes to report from 2013. With your help:

  • 162 trainees and community clients have obtained jobs outside of Homeboy Industries and Homegirl Cafe.
  • 21 students have obtained their GED and 36 have graduated from Learning Works Charter High School, our partner high school.
  • 44 students have graduated from the solar panel program, and 27 have passed the advanced, "gold standard" NABCEP certification exam. All 44 have found employment in the field.

We are proud of our trainees' and community clients' many accomplishments, and grateful for your support of our organization.

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.

A distinctive feature of Homeboy Industries is its social enterprises, where the most difficult to place individuals are hired in transitional jobs. This provides them a safe, supportive environment in which to learn concrete and soft job skills while building their resumes and experience. Former rivals soon find themselves working together, experiencing true friendship in place of gang life. One of our four businesses is the Homegirl Cafe, dedicated to training and empowering female clients comprehensively in the restaurant industry with a focus on healthy, green communities.

The Homegirl Cafe garden project is part of our one-year training program for high-risk and gang-involved women in Los Angeles. Our on-site garden provides organic produce for our Cafe, where our women learn fundamental work readiness skills. Our community gardens are a way to connect with our local community and provide education to low-income families, and they give our Homegirls an opportunity to learn competitive skills that will make them employable in a green restaurant or urban farming business, and help them to enact healthy eating and growing strategies in their own homes.

Women will receive job training at the Homegirl Cafe and receive services that will lead to long-term placement, especially in growing green restaurant/urban farming industries. In addition, female leads who have now completed our training program will serve as mentors and garden trainers to our new trainees.

The Homegirl Community Gardens will serve as a resource for young women to improve their family health, both by them the opportunity to gain essential skills that will lead to employment and by educating them on healthy eating strategies to enact in their own homes. Women in the program will serve as mentors and educators in the community, teaching low-income families and children about the benefits of homegrown, healthy food.

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.

A distinctive feature of Homeboy Industries is its social enterprises, where the most difficult to place individuals are hired in transitional jobs. 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. 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 employes primarily females because of the specific issues that these young women face, from domestic violence to single parenthood.

The Homegirl Gardens provide about 30% of the produce for the cafe, and also serve as a teaching and learning space for our community. Check out this article from Garden Design Magazine featuring our trainee Janet! http://www.gardendesign.com/ideas/urban-farming-at-the-homegirl-cafe

 

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Organization Information

Homeboy Industries

Location: Los Angeles, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.homeboyindustries.org
Project Leader:
Stephen Lucasi
Grants Manager
Los Angeles, CA United States

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