Transformation Stories

Jose Arellano - Lost and found

As a child growing up in and around Duarte, California, Jose Arellano loved school and showed academic promise; he even got placed in a program for gifted kids. But like many Homeboy trainees, his childhood was disrupted by an unstable home life. His whole family was involved in drugs and gangs, and he essentially joined the family business at the age of 12. By 15, he’d landed in jail. The cycle of incarceration lasted until he was in his late twenties. That’s when he heard about Homeboy Industries.

He initially came to Homeboy in search of a job, but soon he experienced a phenomenon that Homeboy founder Fr. Greg Boyle describes as “awakening to the truth of who he was.” Jose was not a gang member at heart. He was an intelligent person, a talented writer, and a father who wanted to show his kids a different kind of life. Homeboy’s classes and therapeutic services allowed him to access this other side of himself.

Jose’s time in the 18-month Job Training program included the occasional setbacks that are common to the healing process. But all his struggles have helped him in his current role as a full-time Navigator at Homeboy. Navigators act as peer mentors, shepherding newer trainees through the program. When he helps clients fill out job applications, he can honestly say, “I know how it feels to be where you are right now.” He hopes to get a degree in psychology and eventually work as a case manager. Today he tries to receive Homeboy clients the way he was received here: with open arms and unconditional support.


Jose Arellano - Lost and found

Gabriel Lopez - Two generations in gangs, two generations of change

Juan Marquez: Constructing Confidence

Dorene Macias: parenting and paying it forward

Evan Hess: Father’s Day, every day

Lami Glenn: “Their generosity is what drives me”

Amie Zuniga: How an Accidental Transformation Led to a Life of Purpose

Mariana Enriquez: A Moment of Clarity

George Nunez: Being the Father He Never Had

Eugene Walker: An Advocate for Positive Living

Pedro Mata: Working for a Better Life

Jermaine Smith: “There’s nothing else like this”

Glenda Alvarenga: Hungry for Empowerment

Rasheena Buchanan: “You can’t get this kind of love anywhere else”

Hoang Pham: “Homeboy is my home”

Ruth Butler: “Now I love my life”

Brandy Harris: “Recognize who you are”

David Andrade: “Do it for yourself”

Javier Medina: Made from Scratch

Carlitos Asegura: Who are we? Homeboys! How long will we run? Forever!

Javier Chavez: Mind, Body, and Spirit

Christy Stillwell: From Victim to Advocate

Gordy Abriel: Stepping Into a Brighter Future

Victor Key: A Chance at Happiness

James Horton: Compassion in Action

Will Lopez: “I’ve had my second chance here—and my third, and my fourth”

Valerie Copeland: “Homeboy is a place where it is ok to be myself”

Orsy Jerez: Finding an Open Door

Marcus Avery: “It’s Family”

Brazil Jackson: “laugh a little harder, live a little longer”

Erika Vargas: The Small Word That Means Everything

Miguel Avila: “I Don’t Want to Let Myself Down”

Connie Cordero: The Point of Doing Well

Damond Johnson: “We Were at Homeboy for the Same Reason”

Janet Contreras: Connecting the Dots