Transformation Stories

Eugene Walker: An Advocate for Positive Living

Eugene Walker radiates determination and positive motivation. It comes out in everything he says. “It’s up to the individual to find self-worth in prison and find others who do the same,” he explains, talking about his twenty-nine years of incarceration.

At nineteen, Eugene was sentenced to life in prison for a violent gang-related crime. While in prison, he watched other lifers receive parole. He knew they were winning release because they were doing everything they could to change. “Prison was like a think tank for some of us. I saw these guys taking courses to work on themselves so I did, too. I just kept doing everything I could to learn and improve.”

To gain release lifers undergo intense scrutiny. Eugene applied for parole thirteen times. Through hard work, he was able to demonstrate a high degree of intellectual and personal growth. It all paid off in 2011, when Eugene was finally granted parole.

A childhood friend soon introduced Eugene to Homeboy Industries and Father Greg. With all this support, he left prison determined to be “an advocate for positive living from that point on.” In addition to perseverance and patience, Homeboy taught Eugene the simple but powerful value of asking for help.

From day one, Eugene applied the same fortitude he showed towards advancing his education to work. “Guys who spend that much time in prison don’t want to waste even a minute,” he says. 

He started in maintenance. Father Greg took note of his drive and moved him into tattoo removal. Eugene knew that the trainee program was designed to help him graduate to a new career, and he made the most of it. He was recruited as a business service representative for the Labor Employment and Training Center (LETC) after less than a year at Homeboy.

Now, Eugene’s career has blossomed. He wears many hats at LETC. He also co-founded and runs “Elev8 Your Life”, a program committed to demonstrating healthy values and habits to neighborhood youth. “I don’t want them to go through what I did.” After a long pause, he adds, “It’s everything. It’s the smile. They all count.”

With your help, Homeboy Industries will continue to inspire educational growth and strengthen rigorous training-to-work programs in business, construction, manufacturing, culinary arts, and more, while creating stronger pathways to employment, ensuring successful transition for trainees like Eugene, and breaking intergenerational cycles of incarceration through education and job training.

Thank you for joining us in breaking the cycle. Please click here to make your gift.


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