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In April of 2011, I was attending my sister’s wedding in Pasadena, California.  Of course, it was a fabulous wedding.  However, when the food came out for the reception, I was blown away!  Wedding guests were treated with amazing food and service.  A taco bar, homemade tortilla chips, variety of salsa, and a spread of baked goods.  It was all very simple, but simply amazing.

My sister and her husband chose Homeboy Industries – Homegirl Cafe to cater their wedding.

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Aside from the amazing food, I was curious about the nonprofit.  I was curious about their success and their beginnings.  I was curious about their survival. I was curious about their social media strategy.

The Mission Statement on their website states:  “Homeboy Industries provides hope, training, and support to formerly gang-involved and recently incarcerated men and women, allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of our community.”

It was started in 1988 by Father Gregory Boyle as a job program as an alternative for gang activity.  The program grew and became Homeboy Industries in 2001.  This independent nonprofit has had a positive effect on Los Angeles’ gang problem, providing a way out for gang members.

In the April 16, 2012 issue of Fast Company there was an article on their struggles over the past two years:  http://www.fastcompany.com/1826868/house-second-chances

I went digging and found an abundance of information. Websites, Blogs, Twitter and Facebook accounts:

http://www.homeboyindustries.org/

http://www.homeboystories.blogspot.com/

https://www.facebook.com/HomeboyIndustries

@homeboyInd

http://homegirlcafe.org/

http://homegirlcafe.blogspot.com/

@homegirlcafe

They have shifted and grown over the years – to include a Homegirl Cafe, catering, farmers markets, bakery, diner, grocery, and merchandise.

Recently in my social media marketing class, we discussed the 7 Spokes in the Social Media Wheel.  The foundation (or center) of the spokes of social media lies in a website.  Homeboy Industries has a strong website and active twitter and blog accounts.

My sister said she found out about Homeboy Industries via word-of-mouth through a co-worker.  She had heard about them briefly on NPR.  Aside from experiencing their food and service at my sister’s wedding, I recently saw a piece on the news about their products being sold in Ralph’s grocery stores.  There isn’t a lot of advertising done by this nonprofit.  You won’t see ads or commercials, nor will they be in the news on a regular basis

In looking at their strong media platform, I wonder if their success is in part because of the social media marketing or if it is because word-of-mouth.  Has their social media allowed them to stretch out to the community where it draws in additional revenue and financial support?

Is it because Homeboy Industries is a part of story marketing?  Their services and products are connected to a story that naturally translates into meaning and resolution for a situation. The consumers naturally become a part of the solution and are able to connect and engage with the story.

Regardless of where their social media success stems from, I’m a fan.  I love a good story.  I like the the idea of my money supporting a cause, supporting positive change.

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