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Homeboy Industries' Downtown Headquarters Opens

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Tuesday, October 02, 2007, at 09:06PM
Father Boyle Ed Fuentes

With a parking lot packed with dignitaries and well-wishers, the masses gathered today to break bread for the opening ceremonies of Homeboy Industries new headquarters on the edge of Chinatown, at the corner of Alameda and Bruno.

Among those offering congratulations to Father Greg Boyle and the various donors were Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who called it a moment of an enlightened city. 14th District Councilmember José Huizar admitted to having once been sad to hear Homeboy Industries would leave Boyle Heights and received a hug of sympathy from 1st District Councilmember Ed Reyes, in whose district the new facility sits. Other speakers included LAPD Chief William Bratton, who was followed by Sheriff Lee Baca. Before Baca brought Father Boyle to the mike, he acknowledged "the chain of command" by pointing out Cardinal Roger Mahony sitting in the front row.

Importantly, all offered wishes of success for the men and women whose lives have been turned around by Homeboy Industries, a program created to give gang members and at-risk youth a place to develop skills.

And the homeboys and homegirls were there. Dressed in crisp kitchen-whites still creased from just being unfolded, it was only the tattoos covering some arms (and faces) that reminded you of how deep gang culture ran in many of these young men and women.

Slicing of the bread The favored phrase of the day was that "hope has a new address" and Father Boyle blessed the building, an extra long loaf of bread was brought in and sliced marking the official opening of the doors.

Later, Father Boyle encouraged us to tell Downtowners to visit the Homegirl bakery and restaurant for breakfast and lunch, as well to check out the other services provided by Homeboy Industries (For some Downtowners, the tattoo removal may not be too far fetched a service). The Mayor himself took some time with this blog to say that "Homeboy Industries is good for Downtown as well as the city . . . [This is a] chance to come together. Hope can spring eternal for all communities."

After the spokespeople of politics, law enforcement and spirituality shook hands, they exchanged hugs with men and women who were eager just to go inside and get to work.

Top left: While Chief Bratton looks on, Sheriff Lee Baca and Father Boyle embrace after the opening speeches were completed. Top right: Two members of Homeboy Industries ready to deliver. Bottom: Slicing the bread in front of a packed crowd. Photos: EF

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