Henry Arenas and his family moved to Fresno for his Freshman year of high school. The oldest of three children, Henry would describe himself as a simple kid “just worried about school, good grades, and maintaining a good GPA.”
At just 16 years old, his life changed forever. Henry found out he was going to be a father.
“We weren’t careful,” Henry says of his relationship with his girlfriend, “We knew what to do, but we didn’t. We took a risk and she ended up pregnant.”
The first struggle for the expectant parents was deciding how and when to tell their parents the news.
“It was hard.” Henry remembers, “We didn’t know how to tell either side.”
After his girlfriend told her parents, Henry recalls the conversation he had with his.
“They weren’t so happy at first. Thankfully my parents […] didn’t push me away or anything.”
Bracing for the life change coming his way in nine months, Henry was approached by his school’s Vice Principal who referred him to Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission’s Adolescent Family Life Program.
According to Henry, one of his greatest hurdles was accepting that sometimes everyone needs help.
“I didn’t consider myself one of those people who really needed the moral support,” Henry recalls, “but there are some things you go through in life that you do really need somebody to talk to.”
Some of the most valued aspects of AFLP for Henry were the positive youth development activities he participated in, the most helpful being one that helped him evaluate the relationships in his life.
“I came to realize I depend on a lot of people.” He says, “I cherish a lot of things that my parents taught me.”
Henry credits AFLP for helping him embrace the future with an optimism that may not have been present otherwise.
“To be able to go through this and having someone to talk to is going to make five years later possible.”
They are five years that Henry plans to fill with work, education, and taking care of his young son. Henry thanks AFLP for helping him through a hard time.
“[AFLP] helped me through a chapter that was really rough.” He says. “Fortunately, I talked to somebody, but not everybody does.”