Father Gregory Boyle is an LA Institution. Through remarkable compassion and a steadfast faith, Boyle has changed hundreds of lives in the most underserved neighborhoods of Los Angeles. Boyle is known for his success with gang rehabilitation and the institution which grew up around his work – Homeboy Industry – is a model that has been replicated across the country. At the end of the day, there is truly no one like Father Boyle. “Father G” has a simple philosophy: radical acceptance. If you think that is simple, take a moment to look more deeply.
Over the course of over 30 years, Boyle’s Homeboy Industries has provided tenderness and acceptance, job training, and employment for those coming off the streets or out of prison. Every client who walks through the door of Homeboy begins by working on his or her mental health with the goal of advancing to training in soft and hard job skills. Homeboy provides tattoo removal, legal assistance, and many layers of therapy and substance abuse counseling.
Touring Homeboy Industries and lunch at Homegirl Bakery
Over 1000 people a month visit Homeboy’s headquarters here in LA. This is an easy tour to set up and the experience is well worth the trek downtown.
We found street parking nearby and found our way to the visitor area. Omar, whose smile was immediate and wide, checked us in and then popped around the counter declaring himself to be our guide. During our hour-long visit, we heard first hand how “G” had saved his life. Now a young father, Omar recounted his life on the streets, telling us matter-of-factly that he was shot so many times that he finally had to admit: “I’m not supposed to die, so I have to figure out how to live”. In the interview he did with Kelly Corrigan (see below), Father Boyle wagers that every gang member in LA knows about Homeboy. So Omar knew where to go and eventually started hanging around Homeboy. He got help, got married, got hired and is now the most popular tour guide – or so he told us! Given his infectious enthusiasm for the work, and the power of his story, we had no doubt.
Arranging for a Tour: Tours of Homeboy Industries are available Monday thru Friday at 9am, 11am, and 2pm. Tours are NOT offered Saturday or Sunday. Click here for more details – you can reserve online and do consider making a donation (since the tour is free!).
Lunch at Homegirl Cafe: We dined in the Homegirl Cafe after our tour, which is right on the premises and features meals cooked and served by employees who were formerly incarcerated. The restaurant was not crowded, so we didn’t feel unsafe in relation to Covid, and we were happy to support a branch of Homeboy’s employment program.
Age of visitors: Homeboy’s campus has an impressive frontage on a downtown corner and features several buildings with offices, classrooms, a store and a restaurant – so the physical tour is not something that younger kids would appreciate. It’s the stories of life on the street and tales of redemption that are impactful, making this excursion appropriate for mature kids over 16.
You can visit the Homeboy Store on premises or order baked goods online.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Here is an article by the LATimes’ Steve Lopez about Father Boyle. And here is a video interview with Kelly Corrigan from April 2022 which explains Homeboy’s methodology and Father Boyle’s philosophy. Both are highly recommended for a sense of how impactful his life and practice have been..
Reading Father Boyle’s book is also highly recommended. Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion was published in 2010 and is beloved around the world. It should probably be read by everyone who lives in Los Angeles for its honest portrait of life in the barrio and the struggles of incarceration and rehabilitation.
Boyle has written four other books and when he’s not moving around the country speaking about his work, he’s in his chair at Homeboy Industries, ready with an open door for all who need him.
130 W. Bruno Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012