For more in-depth stories about life at Homeboy, please visit our Homeboy Stories Blog. The blog is a chronicle of everyday life at Homeboy Industries, the largest and most effective gang intervention organization in the nation, located in Downtown Los Angeles. Homeboy Stories features interviews, pictures, snapshots of conversations overheard, and original artwork and writing by our staff and students.

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A beautiful smile can do a lot to conceal the story behind it. Erick is nineteen, and at the end of the year, the transitional support program at Homeboy helped him move into his first apartment. For several months before, he had been living out of his car. Erick grew up with an unstable family, and spent much of his early childhood living with his sisters and grandmother in “motels and in vans, without food to eat, starving all the time.” 

Erick did not consistently attend school until his adolescent years, when he was in and out of foster care placements and group homes. He was subject to such harassment at school that the police had to intervene on multiple occasions when he was physically beaten and threatened with weapons.

Erick came to Homeboy Industries after time in Juvenile Hall, and now works in the Education and Curriculum Department. He wants to become a mechanic or a youth counselor because “I want to help kids, help prevent them from becoming a gang member, and be a mentor.” Like many of the youth at Homeboy, Erick is working hard to change his life despite many years without support. “I don’t know exactly how I’m gonna make it,” Erick says, “but I’m going to work however I can to leave a better mark.”