She also got a job at Reach Out in Ontario, a drug rehab program. She impressed the boss so much that he hired her to do intake. When their funding was cut, she found herself at the unemployment office and then took a job at a preschool as an afternoon aide, cleaning bathrooms and stacking cots for minimum wage.
During this time, she enrolled in night school at Chaffey College and earned a degree in sociology and child development. An interesting aside is that her daughter is now a professor at this same college.
Hales remained at the preschool for 17 years, eventually working her way up to become the administrator. The school was ultimately sold.
Five years later she was employed as a human resource counselor for the city of Ontario working with teen dropouts and felons. She continued her work with the underprivileged and handicapped as the director of child development at the Colton Unified School District.
When she retired, she moved to Waikiki for three month but got island fever and moved back to Lake Forest to a senior citizens complex, but found herself with little to do.
“I felt an emptiness,” she said. Then one day while walking in Heisler Park last September, she saw people passing out brown paper bag lunches. She observed that the bags contained juice boxes, granola bars and peanut butter sandwiches on white bread.
A light bulb went off in her head and she thought, “I can do much better than that!” She prepped all night, woke up at 5:30 a.m. to cook and brought a full healthy meal to the homeless.
The first month she spent $2,000 of her own money but has since connected with Adopt-A-Neighbor Program at a Lake Forest Church, the Helping Hand Program that picks up food donated by grocery stores, Costco and the mobile home park where she lives. Now she spends about $200 a month.