Juan JosÉ GarcÍa RÍos
Juan José García Ríos was born on October 22, 1940 in Río Piedras, Puerto Rico. He studied at the Colegio San Justo in Saint Just where he completed the sixth grade and Division of courses and free examinations of the Department of public instruction in order to acquire the High School Diploma. He earned an associate's degree in accounting from Junior College, a Bachelor of Arts with a concentration in psychology and an Honorary Doctoral degree both from the Universidad Mundial.
"Chejuán" as he was affectionately called, began abusing substances at the age of thirteen and confronted big problems with justice. He eventually ends up in the Rio Piedras State Penitentiary. Inspired by a visiting nun, Sister Ana, motivated him to succeed. He was assigned to work in the library of the institution, so he dedicated to himself to reading and talking with peers about their problems. These early interactions trained him to understand and analyze thoroughly the problem of substance abuse.
In 1964 he began to interact with the staff of the Mental health program that visited the penal institution. He came to know different treatment programs reaching his, own conclusions that the staff had no real commitment to what they were doing. Then he was transferred to the Center for Investigations and Clinics for Addiction a (CISLA) to start treatment. Chejuan experienced different treatment programs, his own readings and his dialogues with confined peers raised awareness about the lack of continuity and consistency of programs. It is therefore that the 28 May 1968 and guided by God, Juan José García founded Hogar CREA. It was in the town of Trujillo Alto where Chejuan begins his battle and love for helping thos battling substance abuse. Today there are more than 70 Hogar CREAs in Puerto Rico, offering treatment to those afflicted with substance abuse and alcoholism.
Men and Women; adolescent boys, treatment services to patients with HIV/AIDS, the homeless and addicted mothers with children.
Chejuan attained the first contract with the Federal Government contract in Puerto Rico to manage an Hogar CREA for those confined to Federal prison. He also developed programs for the needs of people with HIV-AIDS. Chejuan philosophy was based on developing Hogares or the Inns of faith and hope. Chejuan mission went beyond Puerto Rico’s borders and he established Hogar CREA programs in Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, El Salvador, United States, and Honduras.
Juan José García, during his long public career, has received major awards both nationally and internationally, among the most significant awards for him, one from his home town of Saint Just where (Hogar CREA is headquartered today) and dozens of other distinctions from civic and professional associations including awards from: the National Association of Drug Abuse Programs, A US Presidential Awards for Exemplary Community Service, and from three Puerto Rico Governors. He has been recognized in New York, Pennsylvania and the Dominican Republic.
Juan José García died on December 17, 2002, leaving a legacy of love, effort and hope. It instilled in us the desire to serve and help the needy; that our mission is a Ministry to stabilize families and our country.
“We do not come to be served but to serve”