First lady pays visit to Homeboy Industries units

Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — First lady Jill Biden visited Homeboy Bakery and Homegirl Café in Chinatown Sept. 16 for about a half-hour and spoke at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser for approximately 10 minutes during her second trip to Los Angeles as first lady.

Homeboy Industries enrollee Johanna Carbajal told Biden she got pregnant at the age of 15, then attended community college, graduated from UCLA and will be going to law school.

Biden listened intently as senior staff member Eugene Walker told her about having been in prison and what Homeboy Industries has meant to him. He talked about how the organization builds relationships that are a big part of the organization’s success.

Biden also asked the Rev. Greg Boyle, Homeboy Industries’ founder, about how the organization got started.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis also attended the visit, which came eight days before the annual Homeboy 5K fundraising run.

The work that @Homeboylnd does, under @FrGregBoyle’s leadership, is nothing short of lifesaving and I’m grateful for the opportunity to show it” to the first lady,” Garcetti tweeted.

Before the visit to Homeboy Bakery and Homegirl Café, Biden spoke for approximately 10 minutes at a Democratic National Committee luncheon fundraiser at the Hancock Park home of Marta Kauffman, a co-creator of the hit NBC comedy “Friends.”

Biden urged the approximately 20 people in attendance to “work harder” to ensure that Democrats are elected to Congress, saying that with a “couple more partners in the House and in the Senate,” the Biden administration could restore women’s reproductive rights, protect Social Security, ban assault weapons, preserve marriage equality and make schools stronger.

In response to Biden’s comments, Hallie Balch, the Republican National Committee’s California and Nevada director of communications, told City News Service: “Jill Biden’s remarks for Democrat operatives to work harder is a sad attempt at a pep talk. Her speech openly denies priorities that the American people have voted for and show a blatantly partisan approach to ramming the president’s agenda through Congress and making Americans deal with the consequences. A word of advice for the first lady from her friends at ‘Friends’: Pivot.”

Biden also visited Los Angeles in June, accompanying the president at events at the Summit of the Americas and delivering the keynote address at Los Angeles City College’s commencement.

Homeboy Bakery and Homegirl Café are part of Homeboy Industries’ on-the-job training and wraparound services, empowering individuals to enter the workforce within its rehabilitation and re-entry program.

Homeboy Industries bills itself as the world’s largest gang rehabilitation and re-entry program, providing training and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated people, allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of society.

Homeboy Bakery supplies products for Homeboy Farmers Markets, Homeboy Diner and Homegirl Catering. It also supplies fresh products to restaurants and cafes around Los Angeles through the Homeboy Bakery Wholesale business.

Homeboy Bakery is best known for its preservative-free breads. It also makes cakes, rolls, muffins, scones, pies, pretzels, cookies and other bakery products.

Homegirl Café serves breakfast and lunch from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays. It seeks to create a safe space for its clients, particularly females, many of whom have experienced domestic violence and the challenges of single parenthood, in addition to the usual obstacles created by gang involvement and incarceration, according to its website.


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