January 31, 2024 |

Mario Hernandez

Mario was born in Lancaster, California. His parents immigrated illegally from a small town in Jalisco, Mexico. Throughout his upbringing, there was a frequent relocation between Mexico and Utah until a permanent settlement in Utah was established when he turned 12. Childhood for Mario was marked by financial challenges, characterized by limited resources, insufficient food, and unstable housing. Early on, the struggle with finances motivated him to seek a different trajectory for his future.

Associating with gang members and living the lifestyle that follows, Mario engaged in criminal activities starting at the age of 15, leading to multiple encounters with juvenile detention. As he matured, the severity of his transgressions increased, ultimately resulting in serious criminal charges related to major distribution.

Facing the prospect of a prolonged prison sentence, a turning point occurred when the judge offered Mario an opportunity for probation, which he successfully completed, prompting positive life changes. Subsequent life events included marriage, the birth of two children, and relocations to Tucson, Arizona, and Las Vegas, Nevada. After maintaining sobriety for about eight years, marital difficulties led to a divorce, triggering a regression into a destructive lifestyle.

Returning to Utah in 2019, the following year saw Mario facing six felony arrests, culminating in a critical arrest on his birthday, January 8, 2021, surrounded by law enforcement. In the wake of this apprehension, he recalled a Red Barn Academy flyer encountered during a previous incarceration, prompting him to seek intervention.

During the sentencing phase, Judge Harold McDade, displaying faith in Mario’s potential for change, granted him an opportunity for redemption. Subsequent completion of the Red Barn Academy program has been transformative, saving Mario’s life and facilitating the reunification with his children. Equipped with the tools to lead a recovery-oriented life characterized by integrity and accountability, Mario currently serves as the Admissions Manager at Red Barn Academy. His gratitude towards Red Barn Academy is profound, as its intervention has been instrumental in his journey toward finding his own whole-person change.

A vital part of my recovery

“I have been attending activities and many other groups at Red Barn Farms for almost 2 years. This has been a vital part of my recovery and the amazing life I now enjoy. Amazing staff that are always willing to help in any way possible. Thanks for being a part of my recovery.”

- Sue Jones

Truly does save lives and families

“Red Barn Farms and Red Barn Academy is a great example of a therapeutic community that truly does save lives and families. I have several family members who struggle with substance abuse issues, and lost my sister to a drug overdose last year. This is the first program I have seen that offers the right support people need to recover. As a community, we need to bind together to support their efforts so that they can expand and serve more men and women who deserve the opportunity to be their best self and for their families to be whole.”

- Marcie V.

One of THE Best Recovery programs

“One of THE Best Recovery programs out there! Love this place and all the amazing work they do and LIVES they SAVE!”

- Lucky H.