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.


Janet Contreras: Connecting the Dots

Damond Johnson: “We Were at Homeboy for the Same Reason”

Connie Cordero: The Point of Doing Well

Miguel Avila: “I Don’t Want to Let Myself Down”

Erika Vargas: The Small Word That Means Everything

Brazil Jackson: “laugh a little harder, live a little longer”

Marcus Avery: “It’s Family”

Orsy Jerez: Finding an Open Door

Valerie Copeland: “Homeboy is a place where it is ok to be myself”

Will Lopez: “I’ve had my second chance here—and my third, and my fourth”

James Horton: Compassion in Action

Victor Key: A Chance at Happiness

Gordy Abriel: Stepping Into a Brighter Future

Christy Stillwell: From Victim to Advocate

Javier Chavez: Mind, Body, and Spirit

Carlitos Asegura: Who are we? Homeboys! How long will we run? Forever!

Javier Medina: Made from Scratch

David Andrade: “Do it for yourself”

Brandy Harris: “Recognize who you are”

Ruth Butler: “Now I love my life”

Hoang Pham: “Homeboy is my home”

Rasheena Buchanan: “You can’t get this kind of love anywhere else”

Glenda Alvarenga: Hungry for Empowerment

Jermaine Smith: “There’s nothing else like this”

Pedro Mata: Working for a Better Life

Eugene Walker: An Advocate for Positive Living

George Nunez: Being the Father He Never Had

Mariana Enriquez: A Moment of Clarity

Amie Zuniga: How an Accidental Transformation Led to a Life of Purpose

Lami Glenn: “Their generosity is what drives me”

Evan Hess: Father’s Day, every day

Dorene Macias: parenting and paying it forward

Juan Marquez: Constructing Confidence

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

Jose Arellano - Lost and found