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Two years after graduation, Jairo’s family of 10 is settled together

Dec 7, 2020

Back in April 2018, Jairo ended up at the Mission—and he wasn’t happy about it. He was coming off of a six-month sentence for burglary charges, and was court-ordered to come to a program after completing the jail time. “When I first got here, I really didn’t like it,” Jairo said. “I didn’t like the rules. And I had so much guilt for basically putting my wife and all my daughters on the streets.”

With Jairo in a long-term program, he couldn’t be working. And that meant his wife and seven daughters wouldn’t be provided for. For six months, Jairo’s sister let his family move into her apartment. The eight of them shared a room with four of his nieces. “I just wanted to get out and get to work so I could start to recover all the things I lost,” he said. “So I could find a place for my daughters to live.”

For the prior 15 years, Jairo had been avoiding arrest for various crimes, often times dragging his wife and children all over the country. He worked hard to support his family—roofing, driving, construction—but turned to stealing to pay for a growing drug habit. “I sold everything I had—all my tools, gold,” Jairo said. “At the end, I was selling our TVs, my daughters’ laptops. “To remember that is hard and sad. It’s good to talk about and remember those times—I think it will help me never be like that again. I don’t want to lose my family. This time I didn’t—I just lost all the material stuff. But I probably won’t get another chance.”

At the Mission, Jairo said he enjoyed helping out at the thrift store. “It was helpful for me, to be (volunteering) there,” he said. “I like to be useful.” The Mission’s staff, particularly Program Manager Chris Rutledge, made an impression on Jairo. “I like how Chris runs the program,” Jairo said. “He’s a person that really understands us. All of them do. They really try to help us as much as they can. It’s a very good program.”

But the most important aspect of the program, Jairo said, was building on his faith. Jairo said he had a relationship with God before he came to the Mission, but it wasn’t strong. “I’ve learned to rest on God, give all of my problems to him,” he said. “I could’ve gotten killed in the fields when I was stealing. I know God was with me. He gave me this opportunity to change because I think he wants … me to do something with my life.”

Jairo and his wife and children all live together now in a house in Santa Maria. Jairo is a foreman with a 15-person crew under him. The family is looking forward to celebrating one of his daughter’s 15th birthday this
weekend. “She’s turning 15,” he said. “It’s her quinceanera. It’ll be just a small party, but it will be nice.

“The program was so good for me,” he added. “I still pray every day. I say thank you to Jesus for every day, every night and every morning.”

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