Kinship. It’s the key. A core value. The heartbeat of the place. What we are taught and see every day. And then when we leave Homeboy Industries, it’s what we take with us.
In his book, Tattoos on the Heart Father Greg writes, “We must widen the circle of Kinship. We imagine no one standing outside of the circle, moving ourselves closer to the margins so that the margins themselves will be erased. We stand there with those whose dignity has been denied. We locate ourselves with the poor and powerless and the voiceless. At the edges, we join the easily despised and the readily left out. We stand with the demonized so that the demonizing will stop. We situate ourselves right next to the disposable so that the day will come when we stop throwing people away.”
It is in this spirit of kinship and decreasing marginalization that Bryan Martinez and Carizma Brown, trainees at Homeboy Industries and students at Learning Works Charter High School want to go to Flint.
Carizma and Bryan are your typical and yet not-so-typical teenagers who, aren’t the norm when it comes to being students, learning and being in school. They attend Learning Works Charter High School. Learning Works is a part of the organization. They take the “dropouts” those that might be the least likely to succeed in what many consider a normal high school. Yet Carizma and Bryan are two of the smartest kids I’ve ever met. They want to go to Flint. They became concerned about the water crisis a few months ago. Their concern never subsided and they actually became more worried as the news stories about the water crisis left the headlines and other news took the Flint story off the front page.
Learning that kids and their families in Flint were drinking contaminated water that was causing serious side effects was alarming. “Imagine you can’t shower, brush your teeth, or have a safe, clean drink of water.” When the story broke of what was happening in Flint, few knew that thousands of undocumented people had limited, if any access to water. Quickly, water and other donations poured in to the city. However, in order to receive any supplies, government issued identification and proof of Flint residency was required. “Because of this, many undocumented people were either turned away or feared that they may be deported just for trying to get water. Regardless of what we may think of immigration status, we learned that access to clean drinking water is a human right. So we decided to do something about it.”
Bryan and Carizma travel to Michigan on July 1st. Putting action behind their words “doing something about it.” They connected with Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Flint and learned about the needs of the community that have been affected most adversely by the water situation.
With the help of their Homeboy community, Dr. Cesar A. Cruz, Father Greg Boyle, and Dr. Mikala Rahn, founder of Learning Works, all eyes are on the prize of raising the money needed to make the trip a reality—a trip that will bring to the most marginalized of the folks living in the Flint area, water and supplies.
Now as a community, let’s stand with them and support their efforts.
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She is a recent cancer survivor and through some years of adversity has risen above all her recent challenges. Lily is a Homeboy Industries graduate and full-time student at California State University, Northridge. She has continued to live her life in South Los Angeles with her two children. She works to show her children that anything can be done with hard work, determination and perseverance even in the face of unimaginable challenges. Her daughter is in a Charter School and she is working to find the right Preschool program for her youngest child.
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