Homeboy Industries founder Father Greg Boyle receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Father Greg
Father Greg and Homeboy members in front of the organization’s headquarters. (Photo from Homeboy’s X posting about the award.)

We are delighted to share the news that Father Greg Boyle, the founder of Homeboy Industries, has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

According to a White House press release it is given to “individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors.”

This year’s award, presented at the White House on May 3, honored Boyle, along with 18 other recipients, including entrepreneur and former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Senator Elizabeth Dole, television pioneer Phil Donahue, former Vice President Al Gore, astronaut Ellen Ochoa, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and actress Michelle Yeoh.

Homeboy has a more than 35-year history

Father Greg founded Homeboy Industries in 1988 when, as pastor of Delores Mission Church, the poorest Catholic parish in Los Angeles, he set out to improve the lives of the gang members who lived in the neighborhood. Today the organization ranks as the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and reentry program in the world.

It now operates a host of social enterprises that serve to provide job training opportunities for its members. The businesses include:

  • Homeboy Electronics Recycling
  • Homeboy Bakery
  • Homegirl Café
  • Homegirl Catering
  • Homeboy Silkscreen & Embroidery
  • Homeboy Diner at Los Angeles City Hall
  • Homeboy Threads

Tattoo removal is one of its most important services

Homeboy also operates a tattoo removal program that treats more than 3,000 tattoo removal procedures free of charge for 950 clients every month. The tattoo removals are performed by more than 30 volunteer doctors, physician assistants and nurse practitioners.

Father Greg has written several books: Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, The Whole Language: The Power of Extravagant Tenderness, Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship and Forgive Everyone Everything.

Ten years ago, Homeboy launched The Global Homeboy Network to spread its work around the world. The network now includes members in 33 states and 20 countries and hosts an annual event that will take place this year July 28-30. Jails to Jobs is a proud member, and our executive director regularly attends the yearly gathering.

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