Giving Tuesday was something special for 1AM Radio and the NeverNotWorking team as we spent the day at Homeboy Industries on the border of Downtown Los Angeles and East LA.
Founded by Father Gregory Boyle in 1988, Homeboy Industries is a rehabilitation community for formerly active gang members and previously incarcerated men and women. Each year, over 10,000 gang members from across Los Angeles come through Homeboy Industries’ doors looking to change their lives and transition to the right direction.
We had the opportunity to use the Dash Radio platform to broadcast the incredible stories of Homeboy’s most active trainees and navigators on 1AM Radio. From documenting the stories of former rival gang members to taking a deeper look into the different services Homeboy offers, we spent Giving Tuesday learning about the enterprise that is encouraging rehabilitation through job training. 1AM Radio even curated a special #DoIt4TheHomies playlist that featured songs like Vic Mensa’s “We Could Be Free,” Meek Mill’s “These Scars,” and “Surviving The Times” by Nas.
Throughout the broadcast, homies told us touching stories about how Homeboy had changed the course of their lives through legal services, tattoo removal, mentoring, education services, therapy, and job training.
We listened to stories from people like Hector Verdugo, who was apart of the “Homie to Head Honcho” segment which gave an in depth look into the process of growing from a trainee to a Navigator and hopefully, executive. Verdugo was once a big time drug dealer in LA, after graduating the program at Homeboy, he worked to become Associate Executive Director; a role he is currently fulfilling. You could feel the tremendous amount of pride this role gave him in many aspects of his life. His new sense of purpose and direction in the world was radiating through him.
There were also stories from people who wanted nothing to do with Homeboy such as Jesse, who was apart of the “East Los in London” segment. Jesse was skeptical about going to Homeboy for a while because he was afraid of what people in his gang or neighborhood would have said about him if they found out. Yet in due time, he ended up at Homeboy. He was astonished at Father Greg’s unconditional wisdom and knew what he wanted to accomplish at Homeboy; to get his license and to go to college. After successfully passing his driver’s test, Jesse knew it was time to start working on his next goal; to go to college. His navigator told him that he needed to visit a girl named Brittany to start his education journey. Having the reputation around Homeboy as the “crazy white girl,” Jesse admitted that he tried to stay clear of her. Eventually Jesse was forced to meet with Brittany and they got his education journey started. Not only did Brittany get Jesse enrolled at Pasadena City College, but she arranged for him to study abroad at London’s world-renowned Oxford University.
Another incredible story we heard came from Miguel and Carlos who were apart of the “Enemies to Friends” segment. They told us about life on the streets and how they used to be rival gang members that wanted each other dead at a point in time. However, Homeboy completely changed that. Through Homeboy, they were not only able to change their lives but change the hostility that they had towards one another. Now, Miguel and Carlos are not only co-workers at Homeboy but they’re like family and constantly check up on each other to make sure they’re safe.
Miguel, who came to Homeboy after being in prison for 18 years, let 1AM sit-in on his tattoo removal appointment which was done by Dr. Troy, who is 1 of the 30 doctors that regularly volunteers their time at Homeboy’s free tattoo removal service. Dr. Troy is from East LA himself and intensely believes in Father Greg’s mission for Homeboy Industries which is why he is a regular volunteer. Watching the friendship between Miguel and Dr. Troy was so natural and pure. You could tell their was mutual respect and understanding that had been carefully built between the two; even though Miguel was in an immense amount of pain throughout his session. As Dr. Troy was finishing up Miguel’s tattoo removal, Miguel said, “I’ve been shot, I’ve been stabbed, but none of that hurts like this.” Ouch.
Other memorable moments of the day came from surprise special guests; the Mayor of Compton Aja Brown, Supermodel Slickwoods, and Music Mogul Scooter Braun, who told their stories and explained why Homeboy Industries is so significant to their lives.
Overall Giving Tuesday at Homeboy Industries was incredibly moving. A story that really opened our eyes came from a homie named Marcos. He told us that at just 9-years-old, he was recruited for a gang. At first, he didn’t want to be apart of it but when leaders of the gang approached him with a brand new pair of Nike Air Maxes, he accepted their offer. Looking back on it, Marcos gets sad that he drastically changed his life over a pair of Air Maxes but growing up, he didn’t have nice things like the other kids in school and was bullied. He chose the gang life in order to provide and to be able to keep up with his peers.
It’s stories like these that we need to put into perspective. We shouldn’t be so quick to judge the life of others and material objects shouldn’t hold so much power over us. There are far greater things in life that materials do not compare to. Marcos believes he knows now the wealthiest possession of all — love. Through his two sons and the unconditional love at Homeboy, Marcos has a new outlook on life and what matters most.
In the end, 1AM Radio x NeverNotWorking was able to raise $15,000 for Homeboy Industries! It takes 18 million dollars a year to fund Homeboy Industries’ remarkable programs so you can imagine how much of a help this Giving Tuesday donation was for them.
Thank you to all our loyal followers and generous listeners that donated! Our goal for our Giving Tuesday event was not only to raise awareness but garner donations for Homeboy Industries. None of this would’ve been possible without your support! For those that missed Giving Tuesday but still want to donate, visit homeboy.nevernotworking.co.
More importantly, stay tuned for our Homeboy Industries Christmas drive. Details on that coming soon!
PHOTOS COURTESY of @YEMIDIDIT