Gorilla Gospel Motorcycle Club
Ex-Cons and Sinners: The Gorilla Gospel History
Gorilla Gospel Motorcycle Club was founded in 2010 by 5 friends who grew up with each other in Eugene, Oregon. One of the founders, Todd Gobeille, had started a record label, Gorilla Gospel in 2006 and traveled doing ministry and giving his testimony in America and over seas under the same name. Gorilla Gospel officially became a motorcycle club in 2010 based out of both Eugene, Oregon and Bend, Oregon.
The club was built under the premise that ex-cons who wanted to leave a life of crime, the revolving door of the prison system, and addiction, often times had nowhere to go for support. The traditional church and other self-help programs lacked the structure and excitement their lives once had. Gorilla Gospel was then founded as a brotherhood of like-minded ex-cons who wanted a better life, camaraderie and a hope for a better future. And the club grew.
The original members were not interested in outreach ministry or traditional religious activities. The club was built to support each other and focus on the inner brotherhood. The original Gorillas were non-traditional and knew they were carving out a piece of history with a program that had not been done before.
They soon realized that helping others was the best way to help themselves, make their lives better, and find a new meaning.
Gorilla Gospel MC started collectively voting in “runs” like…
Operation Sober Streets:
to raise awareness on drunk driving, where they would meet at bars and pay for taxi rides so that patrons who had been drinking could get a free ride home.
The Warm Streets Project:
To feed and cloth the homeless during the cold winters in the Northwest.
And the development of their flagship program,
Brains Over Chains:
Each year, with the media and public’s help, they would collect donations of books to deliver to the different correctional facilities and prisons around the state of Oregon. Institutions they had previously done time in, they now came back as visitors to give back. The first Brains Over Chains delivered over 10,000 books to Two Rivers Correctional Facility in Umatilla, Oregon. By the 3rd and 4th Brains Over Chains Book Run, inmates and institutions had received over 50,000 books in both adult and juvenile correctional facilities.
In 2015, after 5 years of Gorilla Gospels presence in the Northwest, the club had no recidivism. No Gorilla had ever gone back to prison. This broke the revolving door model of the prison system and went against all odds on prison recidivism with ex-cons. Whether Gorillas were doing Poker Runs, riding across the west coast for fun, giving the homeless free meals under bridges, or collecting books, GGMC had become known both through the media and the prison system as guys who had defied the odds and made a better life for themselves, their families and their communities.
2015 was also the year that Gorilla Gospel Motorcycle Club made the decision to retire their patch, and freeze their chapters. Some of the Gorilla Gospel members patched over to a larger Club and the rest of the remaining Gorillas voted to retire the original patch for the time being.
In the Gorilla Gospel Motorcycle Clubs early years of inception, a few important universal truths were learned.
- It’s better to help people than hurt people.
- The more you give, the better your life becomes – even if the giving isn’t returned.
- It is better to lead than to follow.
- Pride and ego lead to destruction.
- Stand for something or you will fall for anything.