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.


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

Jose Arellano - Lost and found