Transformation Stories

Pedro Mata: Working for a Better Life


Pedro Mata grew up in the projects of Wilmington. His mother passed away when he was three, leaving him to be raised by his father. They were tough times, and to cope, Pedro turned to drugs and gangs. As a result, he spent much of his youth moving through the criminal justice system.

Pedro’s issues with fighting and lack of self-control were landing him in trouble, so he went to Homeboy Industries for help. He had known about Homeboy for years, having been baptized by Father G as a boy at juvenile probation camp. When he first arrived at Homeboy, Pedro only took anger management classes, but after watching fellow homeboys make positive changes in their lives, he realized he wanted to do the same. He became involved with Narcotics Anonymous and asked Father G for a job. He ended up in Homeboy’s bakery, where he learned how to be accountable, work with others, and lead a team. Pedro also held jobs in Homeboy’s maintenance and tattoo removal departments.

Eventually Pedro became interested in construction through friends in the industry who suggested that he give it a try. The road to becoming qualified for a union job in construction was long, but Pedro worked hard to attain all the necessary training. As employment counselor Thaddeus Skiles puts it, “Pedro was persistent, almost to the point of being annoying. He was always in my office asking me, ‘What’s next? What do I need to learn now?’ But you know what? That persistence paid off.” Thaddeus and his fellow counselors were so impressed with Pedro’s determination that they recommended him for the pre-apprenticeship program at the Local 416 Ironworkers Union in La Palma.

Pedro also took advantage of the tutoring program at Homeboy. “I was at work and I realized that I didn’t know how to read a tape measure,” says Pedro. “In construction, you use a tape measure every day. I came to Homeboy and asked for a tutor and got one an hour later. Ann Marie, the tutor who was assigned to me, was awesome. Not only did she teach me how to use a tape measure, but she also taught me fractions. I have to use math every day at work, and now I know I got it covered!”

Currently Pedro works full time as an A-Rodman at Harris Rebar in Pomona. Next up for Pedro is an interview for the Gladiator Program, which puts him on a fast track to a full apprenticeship. Earning an apprenticeship is critical for Pedro and his family, because it brings financial stability. Ultimately, Pedro’s goal is to attain journeyman status and receive full pay for the skills he has learned.

The transition from gang life to physically taxing construction work hasn’t been easy, but Pedro knows that he’s working for a better life for his family. “I still struggle,” he says. “Sometimes I think that everything I have going for me now is too good to be true. I still have self-doubt. But then I remember that my biggest burden has always been me. I am the only person stopping my success.”

Pedro is grateful for the training and support he has received at Homeboy. “To me, the best thing about Homeboy is that they’re always there to help. As long as you’re working on yourself and moving forward, they’re there to help. That’s a blessing.”


Fatherg

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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

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