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.
A hot dog from Chino’s Dogs is delicious. Juicy and topped with grilled onions and peppers, it would be a great hot dog even without Hoang Pham’s special touch: a fresh Homeboy Bakery pretzel bun.
Hoang, the owner and operator of Chino’s Dogs, has been in business for nine months. “I used to work in the Homeboy bakery with Herb [Fingerhut, bakery director]. He got me started selling hot dogs for Homeboy and that gave me the idea for my own business.” When he left Homeboy last year, Hoang had $500 in his pocket. After researching microloans, he was able to secure the funds to buy his own cart. At first, “it was hard to have a legit business. It was up and down, managing money, learning how to run it.” Hoang has sold hot dogs in front of Homeboy headquarters and at events for the L.A. Derby Dolls.
Hoang grew up in the Pico-Aliso housing projects and first heard about Homeboy when he was ten years old. “At that time, Father Greg was a priest at Dolores Mission. He used to walk around the projects.” Through Father Greg, Hoang eventually got work making tortillas in a bakery. But he didn't stay. “I wasn't ready. I was too deep into the gangs. All these years that I knew Father Greg, I was in and out of prison, I would be working here and there, I would be fired, I would quit, I’d go back to selling drugs and gang banging.”
Then he experienced a moment of profound change. “I was smoking a cigarette and some feeling came up over me. I was tired of being tired. I prayed to God and told Him, ‘If You’re really the God that You say You are, if I leave everything behind and change my life, will You give me a small second chance, a new path? Will You give me that second life?’ That’s how I did it. And that’s what He did. I've been out for five years. I was with Homeboy for four and a half years before I got my business up and running.”
What motivates Hoang to keep going? “My mom. I saw what she was going through and it made me wake up. My mom’s not getting any younger. She’s already gone through so much with me. It’s time for me to step up and support her. She needs that peace of mind.”
As a former trainee, Hoang knows what homies face when they first come to Homeboy. “They tell me they want to do what I’m doing, that they want to open a business. But first you need to get your life together. You have to work on yourself before you do anything else. Coming into Homeboy Industries and asking for help? That’s a big step. Now you have to open the doors to understand yourself. Once you get that, and let people help you without judging you, there are a lot of people who will be there with you from the start to the end.” This kind of unconditional acceptance had made all the difference in his life. “You can’t tell anyone what to do. But you can show them, step by step, and they’ll understand you. You've got to break everything down in a way that they understand themselves.”
Hoangs next goal for Chino’s Dogs? “As my business grows and grows, I’m going to hire people from Homeboy. I've been there. It’s time for me to pass it on.” Homeboy will always be an important place for Hoang, who still finds time to work and volunteer. “I opened my doors to Homeboy Industries and saw what they had to offer me. I opened my doors and it made me who I am today. Homeboy is my home.”