Name: Fernando Jara
Profession: Co-Founder, Rockhill Farms
“Hello my name is Fernando Jara, and we have a responsibility to our community to transform it.”
Fernando Jara knows what second chances are all about. He’s a high school dropout.
At 17, he was placed on parole, and it took him two years of junior college just to get his GED – he basically pulled himself up by his own bootstraps.
But some members of the community—teachers, clergymen—helped guide him to a better path. “They saw more than some Chicano tattooed kid with a criminal past,” says Jara.
It’s this opportunity for a better life that drove him to co-found Rockhill Farms nearly two years ago.
“No one else was going to help these men who were once behind bars get back into society as thriving, moral human beings who would succeed.”
Rockhill Farms rehabilitates former prisoners in a sober living, drug and gang free environment. The program raises its own money through organic farming - the men grow their crops and sell them at a local farmer’s market.
Jara’s efforts have reaped great success. The men who have gone through his program are now productive contributors to society.
His efforts have not gone unnoticed. Earlier this year President Barack Obama challenged colleges to submit ideas for service projects that have real impacts on their communities and bring them together.
Jara is a student at Claremont School of Theology, and one of his professors submitted his program.
He was one of five chosen out of 600 entries from across the country to present his project to the president.
Jara says the community and local elected leaders have given him much encouragement, which has been crucial in moving forward.
“I should be a statistic and part of my own program, but I decided to do something about it and help others.”