Homeboy Industries, an organization closely affiliated with the Loyola community and founded by Loyola alumnus Fr. Greg Boyle ‘72, will host its annual Homeboy Holiday Party on Friday, Dec. 22. The Homeboy Holiday Party serves as a fundraiser for families of those “homies” in the program. Approximately a dozen Loyola students have volunteered for the event and the Community Service Center will be taking 20 more volunteers from Loyola.
The event is for the “homies,” men and women in the job skills training program for Homeboy Industries. The job program assists people who were formerly incarcerated and are now attempting to re-enter the workforce. Through Homeboy Industries, these people gain skills applicable to normal jobs as opposed to the skills learned in the previous life of crime. Tom Zeko, director of community service and moderator for the event said, “Many participants in the program are in their late 20s or 30 years old with a small child or multiple children making only minimum wage through Homeboy. Imagine being 30 or 40 years old with never having had a real job your whole life. It’s very difficult for them to change the direction of their life. They can’t claim any useful skills! The program really helps the participants gain credibility and grow to other jobs.”
The director of the event, Jim Oswald ‘78, puts together the event using volunteers from Gensler Architects and Engineers, his company, Loyola High School, and female students from Marlboro, Harvard Westlake, and Mayfield. This year marks the fifth time that Loyola participates in this event. The students will set up the event, work the different areas and clean up when the party has ended. The event includes many carnival-type events such as some simple rides, bean bag toss, ornament making, face painting, photos with the participants, and Christmas card making. Tom Zeko said, “The event is really for the kids of the ‘homies’ in the event.” The 250-300 participants in the event often have multiple young children from 4-6 years old. The Homeboy Holiday Party is also a toy drive for the kids. Some of the volunteers also make a donation of a dinner box, a box containing meals with different types of food to help feed the families in participation.