When you have a gang-related tattoo on your face or hands or any visible part of your party – it is more than a statement of identity – it can be a death sentence. That is why Fr. Greg Boyle (“G” to his homies) has invited Holy Family Church to partner with Homeboy for their “Ya ‘Stuvo” tattoo removal program by encouraging physician parishioners to volunteer in the Homeboy laser removal program.   The decision to remove a gang identifying tattoo can be a significant step in the decision to move into a more positive way of life.  Fr. Greg puts it this way:

Clients come to us in an effort to make a positive change in their lives.  Patients’ pursue this because they want to be role models for their children; they see these visible marks of gang affiliation as serious barriers to legitimate employment; and/or because gang tattoos make individual a walking target and puts them and their families, at real risk for severe physical harm from former “homies.”  Tattoo removal also results in a significant decrease in police contact; the mere presence of gang tattoos can result in an individual being considered a suspect in a crime, in which he/she has no involvement.  Tattoo removal sets an example and helps break the cycle of gang involvement and its attendant ills.

Holy Family has been asked by Fr. Greg Boyle, S.J., to assist in recruiting physicians willing to give a 2 to 5 hours per month to Homeboy Industries’ tattoo removal program.  A valid medical license is required, and training under the supervision of the program’s medical director will be provided.  The purpose of the program is to assist young men and women desiring to make significant changes in their lives by having their gang-related tattoos removed in order to be positive role models for their children, improve their chances of legitimate employment, and decrease the possibility that they or their families will be victims of violence by rival gangs.

To learn more about the program, including malpractice insurance issues, and to set up a visit to observe this program, please contact Mary Schimmoller, Holy Family Volunteer Coordinator, at 626-403-6113 or mschimmoller@holyfamily.org.  Volunteer physicians do not need a dermatology specialization — only a desire to share their gifts and have a positive impact in the lives of Homeboy’s clients and employees.

Dr. Paul McAndrews, Holy Family volunteer, removes tattoo from Homeboy client

 “’…You know darkness is changing into light when you are able to look into another person’s eyes and see yourself.’  I see myself in the eyes of the people coming to me to have their tattoos removed. I have made many mistakes in my life and there have been wonderful people there to pick me up.  These people at Homeboy are God’s children and I also see Jesus when I look in their eyes.” Dr. Paul Mc Andrews,

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