Celeste Cabrera-Garcia is a Fresno EOC Board Commissioner but also former Adolescent Family Life Program (AFLP) client and Head Start parent. She was first introduced to Fresno EOC as a teen mom at the age of 14 and with support from her case managers was encouraged to take on new opportunities leading her to where she is today.
“At the time I was going through the wonders of becoming a parent but I also didn’t know much,” said Cabrera-Garcia. “AFLP taught me everything about my pregnancy, they were my teachers.”
For Celeste AFLP was the only teen parent program available at her High School. The program helped her seek healthy relationships and provided mental health support with counselling services.
“They were consistently reaching out to me even when I didn’t have an appointment with my case manager,” Cabrera-Garcia said. “It just shows you how dedicated Fresno EOC staff is not to just their work but their clients.”
Through AFLP Celeste began to learn more about Head Start and eventually enrolled her son. Head Start was another program that made a significant impact on Celeste’s family. Head Start teachers were the first to identify significant signs of her son’s ADHD. They noticed his difficulty focusing in the classroom and suggested Celeste talk to a doctor.
“I didn’t even know my son had ADHD until teachers mentioned his trouble focusing,” Cabrera-Garcia said, “Without their push, I wouldn’t have paid much attention to it, but as soon as staff found out they worked on teaching him in a way he understood.”
Head Start staff were able to develop an educational plan suited for his needs so he could thrive. This plan gave Celeste the confidence her son would be ready for Kindergarten while he continued learning basic concepts with the rest of the children.
“They give significant effort to their students,” Cabrera-Garcia said. “Head Start not just helped him create relationships but it also taught me to pay attention to the warning signs when it comes to my children’s health.”
Celeste was in the AFLP program until she was 19. With the program, Celeste was encouraged by her case managers to further her education and pursue her goals. It was with AFLP where Celeste was pushed to take on an internship at Mendota City Hall where she is now the City Clerk.
“While my parents were assisting me financially to an extent, I didn’t have a job and relied on government assistance throughout high school,” Cabrera-Garcia said. “Yet programs like AFLP that aren’t the largest, make the biggest impact. If it wasn’t for that push from my case manager I would not be where I am today.”
Celeste’s journey with both Fresno EOC programs allowed her to feel the impact they make on families like hers.
Now 23, she is getting her Master’s in Public Administration and recently got married. As a Fresno EOC Board Commissioner and active member of her community in Mendota she is inspired to make a difference through service and volunteering.
“After seeing how Fresno EOC helps impoverished communities I feel I can also make a greater difference being more involved in my community,” Cabrera-Garcia said. “I just really want to spend any available time I have volunteering and serving in a personal way.”