On the Town: Father Gregory Boyle helps gang members get out

Homeboy Industries came to Glendale in the form of twinkly eyed founder Father Greg Boyle. He used his motto, “Nothing Stops a Bullet like a Job,” to describe the flurry of small industries for which he hires reformed gang members. On Thursday, Father Boyle spoke to close to 75 members and guests of the Cabrini Literary Guild. Oakmont Country Club, completing several months of renovations, played host.

After a blessing on the food by Father Paul Hruby and a luncheon of beef tenderloins, Cabrini President Mary Andrade introduced Boyle. After burying 180 young men from the eight gangs in his parish, Boyle decided to do something. He started the Dolores Mission Alternative School for at-risk students and in 1992 founded Homeboy Bakery. Homeboy tortillas can be found in downtown L.A.'s Grand Central Market. Homeboy chips and salsa are sold at Ralphs and Food for Less. Boyle also began the largest gang rehab in the country, serving 15,000 gang members. The rehab includes anger management therapy, parenting and free tattoo removal. Three laser machines turn out 800 tattoo removal treatments each month.

More recent industries include the Homeboy Diner, Los Angeles City Hall's only eatery, and the Homegirl Café at Alameda and Bruno, also in L.A. Boyle humorously referred to his young charges there as, “waitresses with attitude.” Altogether, Boyle employs 365 workers — all are gang members, all are on probation. But he keeps his employees in check, “We drug test every day.”

A lively question-and-answer session ended the formal portion of the afternoon. Boyle generously stayed to sign his bestselling book, “Tattoos on the Heart.” Cabrini member Mary Arevalo has four of Boyle's books in Spanish and four in English. She had Boyle sign the Spanish translation of his book to her husband, Luis, currently in hospice care.

Cabrini members are looking forward to their annual fundraiser, “It's Mardi Gras!,” on March 3.

For 15 years the Northwest Glendale Lions Club has held its Community Appreciation Award Dinner. On Thursday, Burbank's Castaway was the setting in which about 70 Lions and guests honored the Glendale Unified School District's Board of Education, headed by President Joylene Wagner and Vice President Christine Walters.

Lions past district governor and current Northwest Glendale Lions Club Secretary C. Ross Adams began the presentation ceremony. First on the schedule was the recognition of the Northwest Glendale Lions themselves. A certificate of recognition from Sen. Carol Liu was presented by Northwest Glendale Lions Past President Vincent De Santis to current President Bob Dollenmayer. The honor was for the club's recent participation in last year's Glendale Health Fair in which 200 eye examinations were performed and 150 gift certificates for glasses were handed out by 38 volunteers.

Also recognized were members of the Glendale Community College Leo Club. President Courtney Oberndorf and Vice President Lucy Agazaryan lead 50 student members on campus.

Then came the main event. The Community Appreciation Award was initiated to recognize groups who have made a significant contribution to the Glendale community. Members of the Board of Education of the Glendale Unified School District were honored for devoting “countless hours without compensation to ensure that the Glendale Unified School District is the tops,” Adams said. After the earlier introduction of Wagner and Walters, also introduced were board members Mary Boger, Greg Krikorian and Nayiri Nahabedian. Dollenmayer made the presentation of the Community Appreciation Award citation to Wagner. Certificates were also presented to each board member.

The evening ended with entertainment by the four-member Wonderelles with a classic '50s and '60s revue.
 RUTH SOWBY may be reached at ruthasowby@gmail.com.

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