US: An industry of hope

At the groundbreaking ceremony held in March for the opening of the new Homeboys industries centre, founder Greg Boyle SJ (or ?G? as he is affectionately called by the programme?s young beneficiaries) said that the new centre ?is about the invention of hope in a city where oftentimes poor young men and women plan their funerals and not their future.? By seeking to address the root causes of gang violence, an undeniable social scar of so many North American metropolises, Jobs for a future/Homeboys industries is a programme that provides free services to that segment of the community that finds it most difficult to secure employment on their own. It works on the principle that ?nothing stops a bullet like a job?. Over 1,000 former gang members, at-risk youth and those out on parole, have the benefit each month of free counselling, education, and employment services. A distinctive trait of this programme, that has been running for over a decade, is that part of the job placement and training is carried out thanks to Homeboys own ?industries?, a series of entrepreneurial ventures selling different goods and services (for instance, a bakery, a cafè, but also catering and graphic design services), and at the same time offering different opportunities for employment and skills training to participants of the programme. Fr Boyle?s intention and hope are that Homeboy’s new headquarters, to be completed by 2007, will be a prominent symbol to the community, both for those who need the services and for those others who yearn for the stability that it represents. [HL60505]