HANNA PROVIDES A CHANGE OF HEART
Growing up, Hanna alum Efren was in and out of Juvenile Hall. He was raised in a chaotic environment surrounded by drug use, violence and gang activity and had a hard time trusting authority. So, when a judge gave him the opportunity to try Hanna, or to go back to Juvenile Hall, he begrudgingly took a chance on Hanna and it turns out…on himself.
That was 2006 – and although Efren didn’t know it at the time – the decision to come to Hanna would change the trajectory of his life in unimaginable ways.
Initially he was slow to warm to his new home. But overtime he grew to trust the staff, to understand they wanted the best for him and to see the benefit of the opportunities put in front of him. “I started to see that there was a different world out there than I was used to and I started to put the pieces together that if you work hard for something you can achieve it.”
While at Hanna Efren did just that – he worked hard and he immersed himself in sports.
“I took advantage of everything I’d never had the chance to do before. I started looking to the coaches and the teachers as mentors, and took their encouragement to heart. It gave me the confidence to try new things.”
Efren graduated from Hanna in 2009 and went off to College.
These days Efren is a social worker, working with children with developmental disabilities – he’s a father, is planning to go back to school to become a speech pathologist and is getting married. He met his fiancé Jessica when they were both working at Hanna as youth counselors. Jessica still works at Hanna and this summer they’ll get married on campus in a small, intimate, and COVID safe ceremony with Efren’s daughter by their side.
If only Efren could have imagined how much Hanna would change his life all those years ago. All the hard work he put in changed the trajectory of his life, - and he found his future wife along the way.
Congratulations to Efren and Jessica – both of whom have such special spots in our Hanna hearts!