Every gift made to Homeboy Industries assists and helps to
provide hope for an individual seeking a second chance.
Tribute & Memorial gifts are an excellent way to remember a
loved one or to celebrate a special occasion in someone’s life.
Your gift will make a positive impact in the lives of many
formerly gang involved.
Ask Javier Chavez about juicing, and he’ll be happy to share his recipe. “Celery, cucumber, parsley, kale, ginger, green apple. Mean green. Three or four times a day. Thirty days.” He learned about juicing in a college kinesiology class he recently completed. “It’s all about rebooting and detoxing. I thought, I’m working as a mentor, let me share something I’ve learned. So I brought all these flyers. Now I got ten of the boys doing it here. We motivate each other.”
Javier works as a mentor, navigator, and recovery group facilitator at Homeboy Industries. “Homeboy has given me a place of acceptance,” he says. “Recovery comes first. That’s what I try to promote here.”
Javier’s own road to recovery has been full of twists and turns. “As far as I can remember, I just wanted to be a part of something, to be accepted somewhere.” His brothers and sisters were involved in gangs. “I joined in the neighborhood. I lost focus in school. I remember drinking, smoking weed. Juvenile hall, youth authority, prison. The first twenty-three years of my life was kind of like a dream. ”
The first time Javier came to Homeboy Industries, he wasn’t ready to make a change. “I was just here for the check. Based on my actions, I pretty much fired myself.” Part of his problem was mental. “I had a strong belief system. I didn’t mind being incarcerated. I thought that was just the way I was going to go out.”
Javier’s turning point came while he was in prison. “My daughter’s mom had a conversation with me. She questioned me about my actions. No one had ever done that. Why did I like being incarcerated? Why didn’t I want to be in my kids’ life? She questioned everything about me.” He began to look around at his life. “I’m taking orders from a cop, I have no freedom. The same people are playing cards, watching TV, running to the phone. Is this it? Did I do it all for this? That was my moment of clarity.”
Javier went through drug court, an intense rehabilitation program. “It was very structural. That’s what I needed. There was a counselor there who inspired me. She was like a mentor. I knew she had been raised in the neighborhood. When I heard her story, I just related to her. I really started going into recovery. The big pants started getting smaller.”
It was time to come back to Homeboy. Javier had reached a healthy weight and was clean. “Four months into it, Father Greg saw me. I wasn’t a buck fifty anymore! And I wasn’t going a hundred miles per hour. This time I could have a normal, decent conversation.”
Then things started to really change for Javier. “I graduated drug court in a year. I became full time here. I got my GED. It took me about eight months. For the first time I paid attention. For the first time I took notes. I wanted to make sure that what I was doing what was right.” Someone mentioned college to him. In the beginning, he wasn’t sure. “Then I started having this conversation with myself. Why am I still selling myself short? So I enrolled at East L.A. College.” Javier has just completed his second semester. His grades are good and he’s studying drug and alcohol counseling. “My next biggest goal is to complete college and transfer to a university. I got a taste of something good and now I want more!”
At Homeboy, Javier works as a mentor to others seeking recovery. “I talk to them, try to see where they’re at. I stick with them, making sure they don’t backslide.” He facilitates support groups, participates in the twelve-step recovery program, and serves as a sponsor. He has now been clean and sober for two years.
Javier believes in the connection between mind, body, and spirit. “I’m trying to change myself completely. I took that kinesiology class and swimming and I’m learning how to live. I’ve been juicing and I gave up coffee and smoking. I’m conditioning myself. I have to take care of my body.”
To prepare for the Homeboy Industries “Every Angeleno Counts” 5K on October 18, Javier trains with the Back on my Feet running program. “We meet Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 5:30 to 6:30 in the morning, right here in the Homeboy parking lot. Consistency helps me. I just keep going. Even if things don’t work out, I don’t give up. All my life I’ve been running!”
The road has not always been easy, but Javier has stayed in the race. There’s a quote that has been important to his recovery. “’I may not be the man that people want me to be. I may not be the man I’m supposed to be. But I’m not the man I used to be.’ And with that I’m good. I’ve come a long way.”