Leaders Who Inspire Us: Robert Egger & Father Greg Boyle, S.J.

Photo Credit: Zac Durant on Unsplash

In a time of chaos and divisiveness, there are some people in this world who shine a light for all of us by setting a good example. That’s why we’re featuring two leaders who have inspired us with their kindness, and their willingness to go into their communities and make a difference.

Robert Egger, has taken on the challenge of helping LA minimize their food waste while turning everyday citizens into skilled cooks and managers. Our other star is Father Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries. He set out to disrupt the cycle of gang violence by providing kids with better options.

Robert Egger and the LA Kitchen

Robert Egger changed the face of food kitchens in DC with the DC Central Kitchen, and now he has brought his wisdom and experience to the people of LA.

The LA Kitchen is a three-part program that serves a diverse range of needs within the city.

First, they gather fruit, vegetables, and other leftover food from markets to prevent it from going into local landfills. Egger says that he wants people to understand just how much we waste and start to see that a slightly wrinkled vegetable is no cause for alarm.

Secondly, the LA Kitchen serves as a state-of-the-art training ground for those with an interest in culinary arts. In particular, his students come out of local prison and foster care programs where they’re often dumped and left to their own devices when their time is up.

Instead of sending them out to become homeless or sending them back to the environments where they got in trouble in the first place, he teaches them a skill and gives them meaningful work to keep them busy. These chefs take the day’s leftover foods and use them to prepare menus of their own.

The final step in this program is giving back to the low-income families in the area, mostly seniors. Egger has partnered the LA Kitchen with programs like Meals on Wheels to deliver the food to those families who are in the most need.

If this project doesn’t seem monumental enough, Egger has published several books about the importance of non-profit organizations in our communities and our economy. He also offers regular training for other organizations and volunteers on how to make the most of their resources.

Father Greg Boyle and the HomeBoys

Just down the road from the LA Kitchen is another inspiring leader. He is working to reclaim some of LA’s lost youth. Homeboy Industries was created by Father Boyle as a means of helping kids escape from gangs and pursue more productive activities.

Homeboy Industries is credited with helping more than 15,000 people a year to get out of gang life and learn new skills. The programs offered are large and diverse. However, they’re all held together by the abilities of the young ex-gang members who participate.

Most notably, the Homegirl Cafe is a delicious farm to table restaurant in the heart of LA where former gang girls run the kitchen and serve tables.

This serves as a diversionary track out of prison and into real work. It helps the girls get on their feet, take control of their futures and learn a skill that they can use to work elsewhere in the future.

The men in the program also have a variety of options available to them. For instance, an electronics recycling program, farmer’s markets, silkscreening and more options.

Both of these leaders are doing a tremendous job of giving back to their community and serving one of the most ignored sectors of our community.

They’re taking real, tangible steps toward reducing drugs, violence, and homelessness throughout LA. They have already proven that they can help thousands of people each year with their programs.