By: Yohanan Urbina-Espinoza
So far, Los Angeles has truly been a sight to see and full of different experiences. We’ve all experienced different spiritual, cultural, and general life experiences throughout our trip. On Tuesday, we had the privilege to visit Homeboy Industries after learning about their mission and vision prior to this trip. Before walking into Homeboy, I was feeling excited because I was finally going to be able to see what Homeboy Industries was all about. After reading Father Gregory Boyle’s book Tattoos on the Heart, I was greatly impacted by all the stories that Father Gregory had testified about. His visit to Saint Mary’s added to the great impact on my life, in particular when I heard the homies testifying about how Father Boyle has changed their lives. I personally know several people who have similar life stories and wish to change, but must continue the same life due to the lack of resources. I have always wanted to find a way to help those people because I care so much for them. I never could have imagined how much the city of Los Angeles, and other cities, could be affected by the life on the streets.
During our time at Homeboy Industries, we had the opportunity to meet our tour guide, Marcus. He touched on specific times in his life that negatively impacted his future, in particular his time as a gang member. After being arrested, sent to prison, and later released, he expressed his desire and effort to change his life for the better. It is stories like Marcus’ that impacted Father Boyle to do what he does today. This is where places like Homeboy Industries step in and work together to create a change in the lives of ex-gangsters recently released from prison/jail and prevent others from falling into the lives of the streets.
Hearing the different stories of homies and their struggles of trying to find a job after being released, sparked a fire inside my heart. I never realized how difficult it was for ex-gangsters to live a successful life when everyone refuses to offer them any help, especially employment. Now, all I wish to do is find a way in which I can help my own community and others too. I realized that my major of Human Services is truly my place to be in order to create change. On the other hand, instead of focusing only on children like I wanted to, I wish to expand to all ages and cultures. We cannot limit ourselves to a specific group and expect a dramatic change. It is time for us to stand up, raise our voices, and be the change we want to see in the world.