Sarah-Grace Motley, Author at Alternatives For Girls

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Transgender Day of Remembrance

Nov. 19 2021 |

This year, we acknowledge the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) to commemorate the victims of anti-transgender violence. Transgender Day of Remembrance began as a vigil in 1999 by trans advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith. The vigil honored the memory of Rita Hester, a trans woman murdered in 1998, and all the victims of anti-trans violence following Rita Hester’s death. The annual tradition grew into what we now know as Transgender Day of Remembrance, recognized on November 20th each year. Alternatives For Girls recognizes TDOR because we believe that trans people are worthy of love and life, respect and recognition, and we stand against the epidemic of anti-transgender homicides in our community. We affirm that our doors are open to all women and girls regardless of what gender was assigned at birth, and we hope this can contribute to an ongoing dialogue about violence against trans women of color in Detroit.

We do not have a complete list of names of Detroiters whose lives were lost to anti-trans violence, but we hope you will continue to add and uplift those who are not mentioned.

Rest In Power

Natasha Kieanna

Keanna Mattel

Amber Monroe

Paris Cameron

Shelly “Treasure” Hilliard

Jessica Storm

And the Unnamed, Forgotten, or Unknown

National Runaway Prevention Month

Nov. 19 2021 |

Here at Alternatives For Girls, we believe all young people deserve a safe and empowering environment, which is why we acknowledge November as National Runaway Prevention Month and National Youth Homelessness Month. The pandemic has exacerbated this growing crisis of houseless adolescents. On a single night in 2020, 34,210 adolescents were counted as houseless, 90 percent of whom were between the ages of 18 and 24.[1] Many of them have run away from home, a number estimated to be between 1.6 million and 2.8 million each year according to the National Runaway Safeline.[2] This means that millions of children and young adults are vulnerable to the physical, mental and emotional harm that comes with housing insecurity. They are more likely to engage in dangerous behaviors necessary for their survival, more likely to be exploited for sex and drug trafficking, and less likely to receive basic necessities, such as medical treatment for mental and physical illnesses.

Despite the dangers houseless children face, they can be harshly stigmatized. They are often blamed for their decision to run away, labeled as “bad” kids that need punishment and discipline. But the overwhelming majority of children and adolescents on the street are not there by choice. They are forced there by a complex system of violence and oppression that impacts their lives on an interpersonal and institutional scale. This National Runaway Prevention Month, we must challenge and change the systemic issues that contribute to the growing crisis.

  • Abuse & Exploitation: For victims of child abuse and exploitation, the street often looks safer than home. Many runaway and houseless youth are escaping domestic violence in their former households. Children are far more likely to experience abuse from family, and the violence can become so severe that running away from home feels like the only option. Additionally, children are far more likely to be exploited by people they know. According to Polaris, exploitation from a family member is the second highest recruitment tactic in sex trafficking.[3]
  • Gender & Sexuality: Even though only 7 percent of young Americans identify as LGBTQIA+, out of the 1.6 million youth experiencing houselessness, 40 percent were LGBTQIA+, according to a 2012 study conducted by the Williams Institute at UCLA Law. Nearly half of them were either forced out by their family or ran away from home due to their gender or sexual identity. One-third of them ran away because of the physical, emotional, or sexual abuse they faced in their household due to their identity.[4]
  • Race & Ethnicity: Latinx youth are 33 percent at higher risk of houselessness than their white peers—a number that rises to 83 percent for Black youth, who are the most overrepresented group among all young people experiencing houselessness. But Black adults are also disproportionately impacted by houselessness overall. The combination of institutional racism and structural poverty excludes historically oppressed people from equal housing, economic opportunities, and community support, especially young children.[5]
  • System-Involved: Foster care is often the only option for children in unstable households, but the system is not without its faults. Sometimes, they are placed in unsafe and unstable homes that lead to homelessness. Also, according to a study conducted by National Runaway Safeline, 30 percent of respondents who had been in foster care ran away from home, compared to only 8.1 percent that were not. [6]







Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Oct. 7 2021 |

By Christie Jackson, Marketing & Development Fellow

At Alternatives For Girls, we recognize October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence (DV) is a public health issue that disproportionately impacts young women and girls. Although abuse is typically understood as physical, domestic violence is a pattern of behavior used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner or family member. These behaviors can be subtle to severe, and they include physical and sexual violence, as well as emotional, economic, and psychological abuse.

Although people of all gender, race and class backgrounds are impacted by DV, one in four women in the U.S have reported experiencing severe physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime, and young women between the ages of 18-24 are most at risk of domestic violence, according to the Center of Disease Control (CDC).

Community intervention is a powerful source of safety and empowerment. Here are ways you can help stop DV in your community.[1]  

  • Each One Teach One- Learn about the dynamics of domestic violence versus healthy relationships. Unlearn harmful social norms, such as victim blaming, supporting perpetrators, and ignoring abuse. Teach social-emotional wellness and domestic violence dynamics to other people in your community who voice incorrect and harmful views on relationships.
  • Be a Better Bystander : A great bystander safely intervenes and potentially diffuses harassment and abuse. Studies have shown that bystander intervention effectively lowers rates of violence and fosters a safe environment. To become a great bystander, learn the signs of domestic violence, and create a plan for how you will intervene if someone you see or know experiences abuse. offers training and resources to learn more for yourself and your community members.
  • Mobilize Men and Boys as Allies: Engage men and boys in the community in the effort to prevent domestic violence, and offer programs and tools that model non-violent, healthy relationships and bystander intervention. Male allies play a significant role in reducing domestic violence perpetration and negative bystander behaviors, such as laughing or encouragement.
  • Create Safe Spaces- Support policies that improve climate and safety in schools and workplaces. Ensure that pre-existing policies, such as Title IX, are being implemented effectively.
  • Support Survivors- Center the needs of survivors in your community. Donate and volunteer at organizations that offer survivor-centered services. Collaborate with community members and organizations to provide essential needs and economic opportunities for people escaping violence.


Learn More

Local Resources

  • YWCA Interim House Metro Detroit
    • Phone: 313.862.3580
    • Crisis: 313.861.5300
    • YWCA Interim House offers services to battered women and their children in a safe, comfortable and supportive environment.
  • HAVEN Residential Shelter
    • Crisis: 248-334-1274
    • Toll Free Crisis Line: 877-922-1274
    • HAVEN provides shelter, counseling, advocacy, and educational programming.

[1] Recommendations provided by the CDC.

AFG Hires 53 Young People Through Grow Detroit’s Young Talent

Sep. 8 2021 |

Alternatives For Girls had another successful partnership with Grow Detroit’s Young Talent (GDYT), a city-wide summer job and training program that employs young adults between the ages of 14-24. We hired 53 youth employees across all three departments, double the number of participants from 2018. Even though the six-week program was remote this year, we were still able to provide great work opportunities and workshops that teach participants professional skills, such as resume writing, time-management, leadership, teamwork, and communication.

The program’s success is expressed in our youth employees’ end-of-summer reflections. They not only spoke about their new skills, but also their newfound confidence to pursue their dreams through goal-setting and good decision-making. One participant learned that “purpose isn’t just a role, it’s a feeling that you can do in multiple ways” while another one said that they learned the importance of “truly sitting down and thinking about your goals, and whether you are doing enough to achieve them.”

But the workshops offered more than skill-building and career advice. Employees also had the opportunity to learn more about self-care and serving their community.  One participant “learned how to deal with mental health…[and] learned more about the city of Detroit. I learned how to better understand people and their differences. I learned more about me as a person,” while another participant gained “a lot of insight on how to protect myself, how to better boost my self-esteem, community service opportunities, and smarter ways to do things.”

 We are proud of the meaningful and impactful contributions our GDYT youth employees have made. Though we are sad to see the summer come to an end, we are excited about what they have in store.  

A Greek Life Goal for Female Empowerment

Apr. 1 2021 |

Written by Kaley Plaxton

In just one day, Tri Delta, a sorority at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, raised over $9,000 for Alternatives For Girls through an online fundraiser.

Emma Lucken, the sorority chapter’s next president, created and organized the fundraiser with the approval and support of the Tri Delta executive board.

With an original donation goal of $4,000, the fundraiser well exceeded everyone’s expectations.

When the fundraiser was announced to sorority members, Lucken shared AFG’s mission and community efforts. Members then posted graphics to their Instagram stories on Feb. 17. The fundraiser remained published for one day, but donations accumulated a few days after as well.

Lucken was drawn to AFG after discovering the programs and services offered in the Detroit area. She admires how AFG helps girls and women in the community by providing different types of support to those in need.

“I was drawn to the fact that AFG focuses on immediate care but also that so much of the focus of AFG is female empowerment,” said Lucken. “Giving women the tools to succeed and take control of their future is something that resonated with me and the girls in my chapter.”

The sorority’s fundraisers occur approximately four or five times per academic year, with one or two utilizing the social media bingo card format. Their typical charity is St. Jude Children’s Hospital, but AFG was an exception due to the sorority’s recent recommitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

“AFG exemplifies all of these traits so well and we felt it was only fair to use our privilege to support such an incredible organization that gives opportunities to so many,” Lucken explained. “I heard about AFG through Instagram this summer but began donating monthly so I was connected to [the organization] which made setting up the fundraiser easy.”

The bingo fundraiser format has recently begun to replace standard fundraising events for fraternities and sororities around the country, in part due to the remote requirements of COVID-19. Members of Tri Delta encouraged their followers to send in the amount of money listed in one of the bingo squares on the graphic. Upon receiving each donation, the girls running the accounts filled in the corresponding boxes to fill the board as much as possible.

Reaching thousands of people, this fundraiser left Lucken feeling incredibly proud of the girls in her sorority.

“They worked so hard to collect donations and I know how passionate each of them are about what AFG does,” she said. “I also had members of the community not related to my sorority who reached out to me saying they were moved by what AFG does. The donations are incredible but [a bonus] is that AFG has caught the attention of many people in the community.”

Planting a Seed for a Hopeful Future

Mar. 26 2021 |

Written by Kaley Plaxton

Felton Mackiehowell, an inmate at the Lakeland Correctional Facility, recently sparked an inspirational fundraiser for Alternatives For Girls (AFG) raising $1,608. This amount is to be matched by the prisoner benefit fund making the total $3,216.

Mackiehowell first became familiar with AFG in the summer of 2020, when he spotted a close friend reading something new.

“I love reading, and Jayson was always into the type [of] material that contained meaningful [stories] and just my kind of reads. So instinctively, I asked him what was it that had his attention. That’s when he handed it to me.”

It was a pamphlet about AFG’s history and purpose, which Mackiehowell began to read as his friend shared that he was a regular AFG donor.

Mackiehowell expressed that this information inspired him to get back to his previous goals of practicing philanthropy.

“Reading the pamphlet and hearing about how Jayson was a donor, took me back to my childhood,” Mackiehowell said. “I reflected when I was already in the streets hustling, living a double life, but it was my mother who had such a beautiful heart and who showed me how to give back, which I think planted a seed within me.”

Mackiehowell’s mother became pregnant with him at the age of 15 and struggled as a young single mother. As a woman who related to many girls growing up with struggles in the city, she grew motivated to make a difference and asked him to join her at a home for girls on Detroit’s eastside where she styled many of the girls’ hair.

Mackiehowell suggested to his mother that they get the girl’s clothes and shoes too, and they went to a couple of stores where he spent his “dirty money.” Although he was embarrassed to admit where that money came from now, he recalled that the moment brought tears to everyone’s eyes.

Mackiehowell shared that this story felt like it came full circle 17 years later when he heard about AFG. “Correlating to now, that was the drive for this,” he said. “Me wanting to make a difference in my community despite my circumstances of being incarcerated is what fueled it.”

When describing the hurdles he had to overcome to gain the facility’s support, he explained that he had to get each warden to hear his idea and win them over. He also had to develop a thorough plan which was presented to a forum for approval.

“Many of my incarcerated peers here were excited and enthused; even generous enough to secure some donations like Rayrond Carr and L. McPherson,” Mackiehowell said. “Despite the many stigmas and stereotypes of those incarcerated, good-giving-hearts became the reality.”

Mackiehowell and his close friend Darrell Ewing hope to give back and make a major difference in the future. When he drafted up a flyer they both immediately got to spread the word.

“We both work so close at defying the odds while working on our projects like writing our memoirs and formulating our plans to cause change within criminal justice reform. So, when I told him my plan it was a no-brainer.”

This fundraiser was an opportunity for Mackiehowell and other incarcerated individuals, many of whom have daughters, mothers, and sisters fighting similar battles, to leave a positive impact on the community. He expressed that it left both the girls and young women, as well as the inmates better off.

“This means that bringing value to young women and especially young girls is bringing value to the future because not all but some will bring children into this world, and if AFG provides them with safe havens and resources based on some of the funds that we allocated, then we invested in our very own future because children are the future.”

Ewing added, “This means that we are contributing to the mission for AFG which helps curve girls and women from adding to the incarceration rate, where today women recidivism rates have risen [greatly] since the launch of the prison industrial complex.”

AFG is grateful for the seeds that Mackiehowell planted, following in his mother’s footsteps, and to all the individuals who contributed to help girls and young women reach a hopeful future as a result.

Volunteer Spotlight: James (Jim) Maier

Mar. 22 2021 |
Safe Choices volunteers Marissa Graziano and James Maier

If you’re driving around southwest Detroit on a Wednesday night between 6:30 – 9 PM, you just may see the AFG van driving around. And, the person you’ll see behind the wheel is James (Jim) Maier. Jim has been volunteering for AFG for five years, and he specifically chose the Safe Choices street outreach program.

“I found out about AFG on a website through my church,” said Maier. “I was looking for a new organization, and as I was looking through their website, I noticed street outreach was one of the areas they needed volunteers. There was just something, I don’t know. Once I saw they offered that, I knew right away that’s what I wanted to do.”

Volunteers in our Safe Choices program go out into the community twice a week, on Wednesday, in Jim’s case, and Thursday. Their goal – to find sex workers and provide them with resources (food, bleach kits for drug use, and information about AFG), and let them know AFG is available to them if they want help. Jim is usually joined by one or two other volunteers, usually Marissa Graziano (pictured above). There’s always someone in the front window handing out bags. If there’s a third person, they’re in the back of the van taking notes, and looking around to make sure no one is a threat.

“We are probably the only people that are doing something good for the women we stop for, and they are so grateful for anything we have to offer, just even to know somebody cares for them,” said Maier. “It’s just really moving when they say “thank you” or “God bless you.”

On average, Jim and the rest of the Wednesday crew make 10-15 stops a night year-round. Some days are lower, and some days are higher. The most stops he has ever made in one night was 25. Jim drives around 50 miles every Wednesday, covering the southwest area up to John R. and 8 mile.

The ultimate goal of the Safe Choices program is to get these women off the street, and into our New Choices program at AFG.

“There have been several women who have joined the New Choices program because of us stopping and talking to them on the street, it’s just so rewarding, and it makes it worth it – going every week,” said Maier.

AFG cancels 31st Annual Role Model Dinner scheduled for the end of March

Mar. 13 2020 |

As Alternatives For Girls (AFG) continues to monitor the rapidly changing coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, we are also mindful of its potential impact on our participants, staff, donors, sponsors and community partners.

Our first priority is everyone’s health and wellbeing.  We are taking all reasonable steps to continue to serve and protect our participants, who may be more vulnerable now than ever, and also to protect our staff, volunteers, and all from this virus.

We appreciate the many donors who have reached out to us out of concern for our participants and our overall community.  Because of your commitment and investment in AFG as a donor, volunteer, and/or supporter, we intend to keep you apprised of our plans and actions as we cope with these challenging circumstances.

A few things of note:

  1. We are committed to both continuing to serve the homeless and high-risk girls and women who depend upon us, and also to minimize the risk of the coronavirus to all in our care, and on our team.  To that end, we are taking many precautions (see below) but our critically important services—shelter, outreach, prevention—are sustained, with modifications as needed as the situation evolves.  We are also working together with our partner organizations throughout Detroit and beyond to collectively develop and implement best practices for serving all of our participants in the safest possible ways.
  2. After discussion with the AFG Leadership Team as well as the AFG Board of Directors, and a number of our event corporate partners, along with considering the increasing precautions many Michigan companies and organizations are taking, we made the difficult decision to CANCEL our 31st annual Role Model Dinner scheduled for Thursday, March 26, 2020, at the Renaissance Center Marriott Hotel. Our decision is based on our commitment to contribute to the safety and well-being of our honorees, participants, donors, sponsors, and staff.  While this cancellation puts a serious dent in our fundraising for the year, we remain committed to doing what it takes to sustain our critical services and will reach out to all in our supportive community as needed in the coming months. 
  3. Concrete precautions we are currently taking include following the recommendations of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services:
    • Cleaning all surfaces:  We are instructing all staff and participants to be even more diligent about cleanliness than usual. 
    • Hand Sanitizing and Washing:  We have and will continue to have hand sanitizer stations throughout our agency. We are asking all staff, participants, and guests to please use upon arrival and exit of our agency.  We are also asking that we refrain from handshaking and consider “elbow bumps” when meeting/greeting others. 
    • Coughing/ Sneezing Etiquette:  To help stop the spread of germs, we are advising all staff, participants, volunteers, and guests to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or with the upper part of your sleeve. 
    • Staying Home if Sick:  We are asking all staff, participants, volunteers, and guests to please stay home if you are experiencing any of the COVID-19 symptoms like fever, cough or shortness of breath.  We have provided our staff with specific instructions on the updates to our sick leave policy during this time, designed to provide them with a safety net as needed.  We will do everything we can to ensure our employees are supported to stay home and see a doctor if needed. 
    • AFG Community Events:  At this time we are canceling or postponing large gatherings and conferences (i.e. greater than 50 people in a shared space). 

If you have any questions or concerns about any of AFG’s actions or needs during this time, or about ways to help, please feel free to reach out to me directly at or at313-361-4000.

If you have any immediate questions regarding the 2020 Role Model Dinner, please feel free to reach out to Dawn Barrack directly at 313-361-4000, ext. 230 or

Resources and Additional Information:  For additional information and resources about COVID-19 please refer to the following:

We appreciate your support and caring during this unprecedented health crisis. 

Wishing you good health,

Amanda (Amy) Good, CEO

Meet the Role Model: Flagstar Bank’s Laura Chavez to Receive 2020 Role Model Award

Feb. 20 2020 |
Laura Chavez-Wazeerud-Din

Meet Laura Chavez-Wazeerud-Din, one of our 2020 Role Models. Chavez is a Branch Manager for Flagstar Bank in Downtown Detroit. She has dedicated over 15 years to strengthening the community’s in the City of Detroit; from working with Southwest Solutions to Mexicantown Community Development Corporation to the Henry Ford Health System. She is focusing on spreading resources about health, financial literacy, and education. By providing free workshops and volunteering her time to communities in need. Chavez has worked diligently to establish the Hispanic Employee Relations Group (HERG). She is being recognized for her outstanding professional accomplishments and has demonstrated leadership throughout her career at this year’s Role Model Dinner.

Here are some clips from her recent conversation with AFG

Alternatives For Girls (AFG): For many of the women we serve, AFG provides the support system for them to help them make positive choices. Was there anyone in your life/career who helped guide you in making important decisions?

Laura Chavez: The people who were not my family loved me supported me, and at times saw me for what I couldn’t see myself as strong, vibrant. Ms. Beavers, third-grade teacher took her personal time to teach Laura to read. I would go to the house after school, on lunch breaks. She saw me for me in the special ed system. Mr. Palco was a great coach in high school. He knew I had my own apartment at 15 and was working hard. He believed in me and let me know to keep going and that he was always there to lean on. Sports are important for young people to belong to. Good friend’s mom loved me and supported me. Loved her like a fifth daughter. I can still reach out to her to talk because she’s still there for me.

AFG: Clearly, you have felt inspired to give back to the community. Is there any part of your personal story that has led to this?

Laura Chavez: One of the biggest things is, I grew up through foster care, knowing we really had nothing, almost made me say I want more for myself, my family, and when I had friends-more for them. Even starting out in the foster care system, jumping from home to home then coming back to a single parent. I saw great examples of what I didn’t want but I also saw great examples of what could be. I was never placed with a Hispanic family in foster care. I had a caseworker that I would see pretty frequently, she was Hispanic too, I don’t know that she necessarily said or did anything differently than what she did with anyone else. But, having someone who was representative of me in that role made me feel very comfortable and made me feel like she cared about us. I had that feeling that everything was going to be okay when I saw her. Never be afraid to talk to someone.

AFG: Who are your role models?

Laura Chavez: I see things that I like in a lot of people. I don’t know that I’d like to be just like them but there are certain characteristics that I would like to put into my own toolkit. I have a banker who works for me, getting ready to retire. Watching her interact with customers makes me want to be like her, and I’m her boss! It doesn’t need to be someone above me for me to admire them. My caseworker is also a role model. Saw her 2 years ago, remembered our case, my siblings and my family, I always thought “that’s what success is”. Ms. Beavers was a true role model. I wanted to be a teacher like her because of what she did.

AFG: Which of your accomplishments are you the most proud of?

Laura Chavez: Being a mom. My son is 10 years old now. As a youth, I can’t imagine my child going through what I went through. When he was born I remember thinking I would do everything I can to give him the best life. I feel so grateful that I could provide such a loving and sound environment for my son.

AFG: What advice would you give to the young women that AFG serves?

Laura Chavez: One thing I would say is, you have value. It’s really important to know that you have value. You have so much opportunity and it’s really important to know that you can do whatever it is that you want to do, as long as you want to do it. Having a game plan and an action plan is important to get it done. Tell your story, talk to mentors, the more you tell your story the more they will see your strengths and can give you support and encouragement. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

AFG: Why do you believe that it is important to empower girls and young women?

Laura Chavez: We’re so strong and we don’t know it. We think muscles make you strong, or height. But, there’s that inner strength that is so much more valuable. We don’t know we have it all the time and it may take someone else pointing it out and being a motivator and catalyst for your strength. As a manager, I try to highlight positive things with my team. As an educator, I always wanted to communicate to my students that they have value.

The 2020 Virtual Role Model Recognition Event and Auction will take place April 23, 2020 at 12:00 pm – April 26, 2020 at 5:00 pm. Registration opens Friday, April 17, 2020. Click here to register!

Meet the Role Model: Ilitch Enterprises President Denise Ilitch to Receive 2020 Role Model Award in March

Feb. 20 2020 |
Denise Ilitch

Meet Denise Ilitch, one of our 2020 Role Models. Ilitch is the President of Ilitch Enterprises, LLC.  She previously served as president of Ilitch Holdings, Inc. from 2000 to 2004, a privately held business that manages Little Caesar Enterprises, the Detroit Red Wings, the Detroit Tigers, Olympia Entertainment and Olympia Development. Through her extensive involvement and various leadership roles within the diverse portfolio of Ilitch Holdings companies, she has developed a very broad range of business skills, including expertise in executing large scale real estate developments. Ilitch earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and her Law Degree from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. She is being recognized for her outstanding professional accomplishments and demonstrated leadership throughout her career at this year’s Role Model Dinner.

Here are some clips from her recent conversation with AFG

Alternatives For Girls (AFG): For many of the women we serve, AFG provides the support system for them to help them make positive choices. Was there anyone in your life/career who helped guide you in making important decisions?

Denise Ilitch: My father was my greatest support system, cheerleader and motivator throughout my life.  He was a superb listener and listened without judgment (which made him a safe harbor) and while he was not a big talker, he always gave sage advice. And he set a great example by every action he took.

AFG: Clearly, you have felt inspired to give back to the community. Is there any part of your personal story that has led to this?

Denise Ilitch: As a young girl my father, Mike Ilitch always taught the importance of giving back to the community.  Most importantly, he always illustrated this in his actions, not just his words.  He truly ‘walked the walk’. I can cite numerous examples of this.  One that comes to mind is one day he told me that Judge Damon Keith came to him and said Rosa Parks needed to move to a safer apartment.  He told me he was going to pay her rent so she could move to a safer place. He never said another word about it. Many years later when my Dad died it was reported in the news.  I was struck by the fact that he never mentioned it again, just continued the gesture until Rosa Parks died.

AFG: Who are your role models?

Denise Ilitch: Jesus is my earliest role model and the Book of Proverbs is my favorite. My father is my role model for all of the principles he taught me and lived throughout his life. Julie Fisher Cummings is also a role model to me for her huge and generous heart and constant philanthropic giving. Sandy Pierce is a role model to me for her ‘joie de vivre’ and how she treats people by making everyone feel valued and important.

AFG: Which of your accomplishments are you the most proud of?

Denise Ilitch: I am really proud of this honor from Alternative for Girls. I am honored by the lives I have been able to impact in a positive way.I am proud of the moments when I haven’t known the impact I had on someone’s life.

AFG: What advice would you give to the young women that AFG serves?

Denise Ilitch: Be confident and protect your confidence. Be with people who build you up not tear you down.  Don’t let anyone steal your confidence. Be determined in the life you want.  There is a saying; When one door closes, another opens.  I say, if that door is also closed, kick in a window. Self-improvement is a lifetime job.  Don’t be so hard on yourself.  We sometimes are our own harshest critics.  We don’t need anyone else piling on. Seek help when you need it. No one on this planet escapes adversity.  It is not a moral weakness to ask for help. You deserve to be cherished.  And lastly, there is a saying that “Behind every great man is a great woman.  I say, “BEHIND EVERY GREAT WOMAN IS HERSELF.”

AFG: Why do you believe that it is important to empower girls and young women?

Denise Ilitch: It is important for many reasons.  As I learned in law school women were at one point ‘chattel’ or property and as we know we were unable to vote until August 18, 1920.  (We will be celebrating the 100th anniversary this year). Girls and young women need advocates so they can reach their greatest potential.

The 2020 Virtual Role Model Recognition Event and Auction will take place April 23, 2020 at 12:00 pm – April 26, 2020 at 5:00 pm. Registration opens Friday, April 17, 2020. Click here to register!