If you are even remotely interested in social justice and haven’t heard of Homeboy Industries, and its slogan “Jobs not jails”, well, I think perhaps there’s a rock you’ve been under for quite some time. Father Greg Boyle has been one of the preeminent speakers and activists arguing for employment opportunities for former gang members for years. He’s got a new book out Tattoos on the Heart (that I HIGHLY recommend) and his stories are both intensely inspiring and will simultaneously bring you to tears.

So, what’s up? Insufficient funding WHILE the city takes advantage of its services (without paying for them). This is essentially a rallying cry.

Homeboy Industries’ businesses (including Homegirl Cafe) are thriving. That’s the great part. But, the comprehensive services the non-profit offers are still funded primarily through grants and donations. That’s where we come it. They are short the funding they need and have had to make some drastic cuts that, if left to stay in place, will radically alter the lives of hundreds of people who are still in need of hope and support. (I have friends working there – disclaimer – but this means I also know what I’m talking about.)

There are three important things to do:

1) Read the editorial in the LA Times, Homeboy: What price hope?, and then tell me you don’t think this is an essential group to support. Not possible.

2) Get out your credit cards or check books and get on the Homeboys website to become a supporter. I’ve just sent in my check and I really ask you to do the same.

3) If you are in LA (or not), make some noise at the Mayor who is happy to use his funding to hire gang interventionists who go out and get people to COME AND USE the Homeboys services, but then won’t actually FUND Homeboy Industries itself for all the services it provides. Ridiculous and embarrassing!

Our city is better than this, and I think it’s time the public allocates its own resources into the programs we know are effective.

Unlike my usual posts, this isn’t just something to ponder. This requires action…as much as is possible for each of us. Since individual Homies are standing on street corners to do bake sales and car washes, the least we can do is stand in solidarity with them and contribute what we can to the effort.