Homeboy Industries hosts an annual conference, The Global Homeboy Network, where organizations and groups engaging in social enterprise, reentry programs, and outreach to street gangs gather in Los Angeles to learn from Homeboy’s models and from each other. This year, Chaplains brought a group of four to begin brainstorming our own social enterprise model.

Rev Sarah sat down with Levi to talk about our experience there.

Rev Sarah: Tell us a little about yourself.
Levi: My name is Levi Hunt, originally from Bend, Oregon but grew up in Aberdeen, Washington. I lived in Aberdeen for 23 years. I had an awesome childhood: worked on the farm, grew up in the sticks, and loved being around my family and friends. As I got into my young teen years, I started partying with friends, skipping school, and getting into trouble. After I found myself locked up, I continued to just go in the wrong direction (my friends were doing it so why couldn’t I?). As I got a little older, I found myself powerless over my life: fighting and stealing from my friends and my family, became homeless, and kept going to jail, institutions, and prisons. In 2014, my parents split up after about 23 years of marriage. I knew that it would either make me or break me— and it definitely broke me. I went really hard into the drugs for the last 3 years and found myself on the streets at the lowest I’ve ever been. After being picked up on a DOC warrant, I had pending charges of Arson 1. As I sat in the county jail fighting a prison sentence and asking for treatment, I ended up beating the arson one charge and getting a treatment plan. Today, I am 8 months and 3 weeks clean and sober from all drugs.  I reside in Everett, Washington and I’m starting a new life. Any of you from Grays Harbor County who know who I am: I love you all and if I can do it you can too.

Rev Sarah: Why did you want to go?
Levi: I didn’t really know what the conference all consisted of, but I wanted to go because I know that I was going to a place and going to be around people that come from the same background that I do.

Rev Sarah: What was your favorite part?
Levi: To be honest I don’t think I had one favorite part. But Hollywood was amazing. Also I really liked the connection that the homeboys and homegirls had with their higher power and how adamant they were for a new way of life. And the extent that they will go to live a better life. My favorite part about being at Homeboy Industries was the real life change and miracle the homeboy industries program has to offer.

Rev Sarah: What do you think we can bring back to Grays Harbor?
Levi: I want to be able to help in Grays Harbor more than anything because I don’t want youngsters to grow up in a perfect childhood and then, with their snap of a finger, have to wind up like myself or any of my lost loved ones due to this sick disease of addiction.

I think it’s possible that something like that could happen in Grays Harbor, if we could come up with a really good way for funding. With the job situation in Grays Harbor, it would be next to impossible to have something as big as Homeboy Industries. But nothing is impossible. So what can happen? We don’t know yet. But is so worth doing what we can to make it happen.