VISTA — Jared Hillaire joined the Marines Corps when he was 19 and served his country for four years. During that time he met a woman and had two daughters. After leaving the Corps, life did not go well for Hillaire. He became a single dad unable to find neither sustainable employment nor affordable housing.
Desperate for help, Hillaire discovered that there are few options for single-family dads. “I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t have a plan,” Hillaire said. “We lived with whomever would take us in sometimes even sleeping in the car.”
Over the ensuing months Hillaire and his daughters had to endure hardships both mentally and physically. “There was a time when a much respected person in our family’s life told me you can sleep under a bridge for all I care but those girls will not,” Hillaire said. “That was a whole new low.”
Instead of being angry, Hillaire valued what he was being told and understood it was tough love. While attending services at Encinitas’ Church of Christ, the pastor’s wife approached him.
“She referred me to this place in Vista called Solutions for Change,” he said, “the only place I heard of in the North County that would take families like mine.”
That was three years ago when Hillaire committed to the innovative and transformational 1,000-day college like program. “This was the point in our family’s life where we pulled through,” he said. “Before that I was hopeless and lost.”
From that start Hillaire has been given the opportunity to be the parent he has always wanted to be.
“At Solutions for Change it was a shock to go from just the girls and I, to all of a sudden all these other families that were going through similar situations that we were going through,” he said. “And it was nice to see the local community come in and help out with meals and things for the kids.”
Hillaire was assigned a solutions coach and through a unique program called Solutions University he began a multitude of education classes made to support a meaningful future.
“I didn’t have a whole lot of work experience when I got to Solutions,” he said.
They were quick to put him to work on their innovative Solutions Farms, an aquaponics system that provides real-world experience for the residents.
“If it wasn’t for this blessing,” Hillaire said, “I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I have now.”
He currently works at Sanford Burnham Medical Research Institute in the shipping and receiving department.
“Now that we don’t have to worry about the constraints and struggles of homelessness I get to see my girls grow in ways that I have always wanted to. Now I can do more mentally and emotionally for my girls than I have ever been able to do.”
Ultimately, through hard work and dedication, Hillaire has pulled through for his daughters and himself.
While he says he will always be part of the Solutions for Change community, he has become a self-reliant single parent and he talks excitedly about his family’s future.
“I believe there is a plan for all of us even if we can’t see it. There is a reason for everything,” Hillaire said. “Life is full of little blessings. I teach my daughters to love one another, treat others how you would like to be treated, be humble, learn to forgive others and try to understand what they might be going through and most of all being thankful. I feel like I’m part of something so much bigger.”