Alfonso grew up in public housing in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn in New York City with eleven other brothers and sisters. His early years had a profound impact on the development of his sensitivity to poverty. He attended Boys High in Bedford -Stuyvesant.
He attended colleges in both New York and California. Upon graduating from undergraduate school he backpacked across Europe and Africa. That experienced motivated him to seek employment in the not for profit sector. He attended graduate school and eventually found employment in a community based agency with programs in East Harlem and the South Bronx. He worked for 23 years in that agency and upon leaving took a position as teaching faculty and eventually faculty in the Counseling department at Hostos Community College of the City University of New York, in the South Bronx.
At Hostos he functioned as the adviser to the Honors program and advisor with the study aboard program. For ten years he traveled with students for study aboard in Europe, Caribbean and Asia. He retired in 2008 and continued to teach part-time in CUNY at BMCC. In Sept 2009, with former students from Hostos Community College they founded a not for profit called Small Steps Now Inc. He also served, for five years, as the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Network of Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs and the Empire State Coalition of Youth Service program.