Exploring the Social Model of Recovery, Part I: Homeboy Industries

“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”
― Herman Melville

Alo House is performing an experiment. Our hypothesis is that there is an important relationship between community and effective addiction recovery, that the two go hand in hand. This relationship has been little explored, and put into practice even less.

Sadly, although one might feel the fleeting comfort in the connections made during a stay in a traditional drug rehab, this sense of belonging usually ends the moment the client is discharged.

We are seeking to change this by bringing community into the day-to-day practice of addiction recovery treatment.

This three-part blog series provides readers with a glimpse of such community development experiments through case studies of Homeboy Industries, San Patrignano, and Second Chance Salads.

This week, we will take a look at the innovative, mammoth success story of Homeboy Industries, based right here in Los Angeles, California.

Homeboy Industries – An Alternative to Drugs and Violence

Homeboy Industries started out as a simple job training program, called ‘Jobs for a Future,’ run out of a local church, spearheaded by a young pastor named Greg Boyle in the late 1980s. Over time, Homeboy has become a multi-million dollar non-profit enterprise. The whole world is watching this experiment, and its amazing successes and effectiveness.

Father Boyle still helms the organization, which serves at-risk, gang-involved youth, providing them with an alternative to a life of drugs, violence, and poverty. The once-simple job program has blossomed into a multi-faceted exercise in community economic development.

Homeboy Industries offers experience and mentoring for some of the following:

  • Bakery job experience
  • Alternative high school
  • Training in anger management
  • Domestic violence
  • Yoga
  • Spiritual development
  • Parenting
  • Substance abuse
  • Budgeting
  • Art
  • Areas of self-development

In addition, they offer free mental health counseling, gang tattoo removal, legal services, job development and case management.

New developments in 2010 and 2011 included the launch of two new products: Homeboy Tortilla Strips and Salsa, which are sold in Ralph’s stores across California. Homeboy ‘social enterprises’ have grown to include the Homeboy Diner at City Hall and Homeboy Farmers Markets.

The title of Father Boyle’s memoir, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, reflects his organization’s unwavering focus in helping gang members walk a new path.

Who is Helped by This Social Model of Change and Healing?

Homeboy currently employs between 200 and 235 high-risk, formerly gang-involved, and recently incarcerated youth in its six social enterprises and headquarters.

The free services (from tattoo removal to Baby and Me classes) that Homeboy Industries provides are utilized by more than 10,000 community members a year.

The success of Homeboy Industries is due to their employing a social model of change and healing, empowering the individuals who participate in it by acknowledging and drawing in their entire set of circumstances…

Tune in next week for the amazing story of San Patrignano, a truly one of a kind drug treatment center located in Italy, one that sits right at the intersection of community development – and like Homeboy, particularly community economic development – and in this case, addiction recovery specifically.

And at the end of this journey from the streets of Los Angeles, to the rolling hills of Italy, to South-West England and beyond, we will be ready to unveil our own exciting new projects, and how Alo House plans to join the ranks of these amazing, innovative, alternatives to traditional drug and alcohol treatment.

alo house

We believe trust, meaningful connections, and kindness are the essentials to beginning a journey in recovery. We are dedicated to providing an honest, authentic, and genuine treatment environment that gives our clients a unique opportunity for healing.

Alo House is LegitScript Certified and a Joint Commission Accredited Addiction Treatment Center.