This page last changed on Dec 03, 2007 by dowalker.
Homies Unidos is currently running three different programs in support of their community. These programs build up leaderships skills and secure moral support to those in need, and prepare better leaders for the community. Currently Homies Unidos has 90 volunteers working closely with the 90 families facing detention deportation and legal issues while simultaneously targeting people wishing to turn their life around. Overall these programs provide legal education, build up self-esteem, expose youth to alternatives to express emotion and social issues through art, refine a sense of responsibility and community awareness, and provides comfort to members as they deal with the challenges they face on a daily bases.
Homies Unidos Programs
Libertad Con Dignidad (Liberty with Dignity)
This particular program is designated to assist those youth who fled El Salvador during the civil war and find themselves in need of support. Many youth that Homies Unidos assists are challenged with the obstacle of finding a supportive foundation. Since many of them are torn away from their family at a young age, find themselves lost in a completely different environment, or face prejudice and discrimination, Homies Unidos has established Libertad Con Dignidad to support those youth and provide them resources in order to survive.
Libertad Con Digniadad also targets those families who were separated because of deportation or civil war. Homies Unidos works closely with those families to "bridge the gap" between parent and child and bring families back together. The different strategies Homies Unidos uses include strengthening family support workshops, advocacy, and educational monthly legal seminars.
"Libertad Con Dignida, seeks to make every voice heard. We believe that the issues of immigrant rights that should be dealt accordingly. We strongly believe that individuals have a right to live a life free of violence and persecution."
The Epiphany Project
The Epiphany Project seeks to "epiphanize" or "wake-up" clients. The ten week program teaches life skills and knowledge that seek to develop the whole person. Each week covers a different topic, including coping skills, leadership skills, gang violence awareness and intervention, domestic violence, juvenile law, criminal law, drugs and alcohol, social and cultural awareness, educational workshops and health issues. These sessions challenge the belief systems of gang members and form new, more positive belief systems, transforming a mentality of self-destruction into one of self-determination.
When members meet in the Homies Unidos Office or in school, rival gang members sit side by side, forcing them to confront "enemies" and the reasons they perceive each other as enemies instead of brothers or sisters. Homies Unidos becomes a place where MS-13 members and 18th Street members become friends and comrades, an unlikely relationship. To date, there have been no instances of violence at Homies Unidos events according to Alejandro Alvarado.
Job Placement Services
Ex-gang members often need a steady job. As part of the Epiphany Project, Homies Unidos helps members secure positions in wharehousing, security, and telemarketing. Companies that hire people with criminal records are key factors in increasing job opportunities for ex-convicts and gang members. A Ban the Box movement seeks to eliminate "the box" on job applications that asks applicants to reveal their criminal record. Ultimately, proponents of the movement imagine a society without job discrimination, particularly discrimination directed towards the formerly incarcerated.
Tatoo Removal Services
Homies Unidos provides access to tattoo removal services through the Sunrise Outreach Center and Hollywood Sunset Free Clinic in Los Angeles. Emphasizing committment to the community, clients wishing to remove tatoos must participate in the Epiphany Program or complete an equivalent amount to service to Homies Unidos. This recognizes a responsibility to give back and realizes a meaningful interconnectedness of individual and community. Frank, a Homies member and volunteer who is in the process of removing his face and neck tattoos, understands the significance of such a program.
Community Service EVENTS
Aside from the classroom setting or the learning environment Homies Unidos' holds monthly community service events for the youth, families, members, and volunteers to interact and get to know each other on more personal and social levels. They focus on helping families unite or establishing a relationship between those "Homies" in the program who are from rival gangs. Most of the events are the baby steps that Homies Unidos takes in order to reach their goal as an organization. Homies Unidos' events include: movie nights, yard sales, car washes, Mc Arthur's shell events, trips to Washington, and other community gatherings.
One particular event is "Project Save," hosted by councilman Herb J. Wesson. The purpose of this event is to get other grassroots gang intervention groups in the Los Angeles area to participate in a collaborative football game. This particular event takes place in L.A. Rancho Park and is put together by mostly African American organizations. The event tries to break down the racial tensions and mental barriers between the communities of color.