Blog Archives - Alternatives For Girls

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Anything is Possible: One young woman reflects on her struggles, and dreams of a brighter future

Apr. 4 2019 |

At the Role Model Dinner, Malayshea, an AFG Shelter resident, gave this speech celebrating her accomplishments and sharing her goals for the future.

Life before AFG had me shaken up. I had just experienced an electrical fire at my house that happened because of an ice storm. Because of this, I could no longer live there. I didn’t have anywhere else to go, so I had to call around to find a shelter to stay at.

Before I got to Alternatives For Girls, I struggled a lot to get myself together. I couldn’t stay focused on school or work. I had a good job but there would be days when I wouldn’t show up. I was 17 years old and I had just found out I was expecting a baby girl. It made me really unfocused on what I wanted to do in life, like save money, finish school, go to college and become a nurse. I was always moving from house to house and never felt comfortable.

I was so happy when I made the call to AFG and they had room for me. I just knew I was going to be safe and have a good experience while being there. Becoming involved with AFG was life changing, but a little hard and very different for me. I was learning to follow the new rules, going to group sessions every day, which was tiring but worth it, and having a curfew. But it was the best choice I made.

I learned so many new things in our groups. I learned how to make a resume, found new job opportunities, like a local nursing home and Kohl’s, and learned how to budget and save money. The parenting classes taught me how to stay calm and collected and how to have a positive attitude when it comes to taking care of my daughter.

AFG helped me with it all, especially transportation, which helped me get to work and doctor’s appointments. They also provided clothing for me and my baby. The things I most like about being at AFG are that they always give good advice and never judge you. They always keep a positive attitude when it comes to any situation. Whatever you need, they try their best to give it to you.

Being at AFG, I accomplished a lot of things, most of all becoming a mother. I found a school where I could finish my high school credits and be on the path to graduation. I’m also successfully working two jobs so that I can save money and buy things for my baby and me. I recently got my drivers permit, which is the first step in getting a driver’s license and my own car. Now, I’m staying more focused on school. Recently, I’ve also become close with God, which has brought me faith.

With the support AFG gave me I will now be moving into my own apartment and finishing high school in June. I will continue to work hard on my goals each day, such as finding a college to go to and buying a car. The best lesson I’ve learned at AFG is to never give up, to keep going until you succeed, and that anything is possible. All you have to do is put your mind to it and have a little support behind you.

Thank you AFG for all of your support.

Deep Discovery: Revealing Rare Strength: Alternatives For Girls celebrates the strength of women at the annual Role Model Dinner

Apr. 4 2019 |

On March 27, Alternatives For Girls held the annual Role Model Dinner at MGM Grand Detroit. The event raised over $290,000 to support girls and women!

The evening was full of fun, inspiration, and hope. After an hour of mingling and a silent auction, the program kicked off with a live auction. Rhonda Walker, Local 4 News Morning Anchor and 2008 AFG Role Model Awardee, emceed the event. The dinner, co-chaired this year by Faye Nelson and Pam Rodgers, provided an opportunity for us to hear from many of the young women whose lives have been changed by AFG’s programs. We heard stories of struggle and triumph, and many reflections on the theme of the night, Deep Discovery: Revealing Rare Strength. The evening closed with the thrilling “Fund the Mission,” led by auctioneer Chris Aslanian, during which guests pledged monetary support to AFG.

The program was a time of reflection and inspiration as the young women of AFG and the 2019 Role Models shared their stories. Many shared empowering messages, like this statement from Role Model Awardee, Dr. Althea Simpson of Franklin Community Church, “Let’s join together to insure that every girl grows up empowered and believing “Yes, I can!” and have the tools and the support to make it happen.”

We would like to thank our dinner co-chairs, Faye Nelson and Pam Rodgers, and the entire Role Model Dinner Committee, who helped make the event such an incredible success! We would also like to thank Rhonda Walker, our emcee, Chris Aslanian, our auctioneer, and all of the dedicated volunteers who helped make the event possible. Thank you to all of the young women from our programs; Sharon, Yasmine, Miriah, Daija, and Malayshea, who shared their stories and revealed rare strength.

AFG also gratefully thanks this year’s Role Model Dinner sponsors: DTE Energy Foundation, PVS Chemicals, Ajax Paving Industries, Ford Motor Company Fund, The Suburban Collection, AVL, Beaumont Hospital, Anne and David Knill, Piston Group, The Rush Group, Argent Tape and Label, Comerica Bank, Greektown Casino-Hotel, Health Alliance Plan, Hodges Subaru, Home Depot, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, Meritor, Inc., Metro West Chapter of Credit Unions, Molina Healthcare, Faye and Al Nelson, Pam Rodgers, Ruby and Associates, The Skillman Foundation, Special D Events, Trinity Health, Willis Towers Watson, George Johnson & Company, Marathon Petroleum Company, Michigan First Credit Union, PNC Bank, Union Adworks, Hour Detroit, and Korash Florist.

Finally, we want to thank everyone who attended the event for spending the evening with us and for showing such overwhelming support for girls and women. Thank you!

Forever Grateful: One young woman reflects on her struggles, and dreams for a brighter future

Oct. 1 2018 | Tags: , , ,

On September 25th, Jackie, an AFG Shelter resident, gave this speech at the Positive Choices, Powerful Lives event. 

Before I came to Alternatives For Girls, me and my daughter were staying with my mom. We weren’t seeing eye to eye, so I decided to leave to avoid further conflict. For a few months, we were staying with family and friends. I didn’t have a sense of direction. I was doing just enough to get by. Basically, I really wasn’t trying. I was homeless, unhappy, stressed, depressed, jobless, out of school, drinking every day, smoking. But one thing I always did was no matter what state of mind I was in, I was a phenomenal mom to my daughter. I made sure that my baby had what she needed.

I knew I had to make a change, for me and my daughter. I went to the Detroit shelter referral center, where you have to go to be referred to a shelter, and two hours later I was at AFG moving in. AFG is perfect fit for me. It’s clean, and I’m big on clean by the way. They helped me with literally everything and I’m forever grateful. I came to AFG with the clothes on my back, nothing else. They took me and my daughter shopping and bought us clothes. They took us to get our social security cards and birth certificates. Two weeks later, a staff member helped me enroll in school, where I am finishing earning my high school diploma and plan to graduate this December.

Shortly after, I began working as a youth leader, for pay, in AFG’s summer camp for younger girls, called Rise ‘N Shine.  I learned how to work with children. I never had a job like this before. The kids loved me and looked up to me. So I had to set a good example for them to follow.

Since I’ve been at AFG, I learned that every situation does not need a reaction. I’ve learned how to save money and how to make an affordable budget.  I’ve learned how to speak and dress for interviews. I’ve also learned a lot of things in our parenting classes. They taught me how to calm a child down when she is having a temper tantrum, and how to eat healthy and teach my daughter healthy eating habits.

My plans for the future are to make sure I graduate high school and pick a career suited for me. I also plan to have a place for me and my daughter and reliable transportation for us. I can just imagine us riding our bikes down the street together. It’s a must that I further my education and my daughter does as well. The mind is a terrible thing to waste, but a wonderful thing to invest in. Thank you!

A Whole World of Opportunities: The after-school program helps girls be safe, healthy and make positive choices

May. 2 2018 | Tags: , ,

It’s a Tuesday evening and the girls in the after-school program are playing in AFG’s “backyard”. From yards away, squeals and laughter can be heard as the girls play tag and climb on the playscape.

After some time playing outside, the girls have dinner, receive homework help, and begin their nightly workshops.  On this particular night, the middle school group is learning painting techniques from a volunteer and creating beautiful paintings of colorful sunsets. The room is quiet and peaceful, as they calmly create their own unique work of art. Close by, the high school group is learning how to code with volunteers from Best Buy’s Geek Squad. The young women quickly race to complete a puzzle with different lines of code and celebrate when they complete it as a team. Their eyes are wide as the volunteers explain how they can create and customize their own website.

This is just a typical evening in AFG’s After-School Program. A place where girls and young women have the chance to discover a whole world of opportunities.

The program starts in October each year and runs until late May. Three nights per week, the girls arrive at AFG and are greeted with the smiling faces of their friends. After signing in and grabbing a snack, they sit down to work on their homework together, with the help of staff and volunteers. Before splitting into their proper age group, all of the girls and young women have the chance to eat dinner together and talk about the day’s highs and lows.

After breaking into the elementary, middle, and high school groups, the girls participate in workshops geared towards helping them be safe, healthy, and make positive choices in their lives. This year, the groups have explored topics ranging from preparing for college and learning about different careers to building positive self-esteem and communication skills.

The main goal is to keep each girl engaged in her education so she can graduate from high school and pursue higher education. This year, for the 18th year in a row, 100% of the high school seniors in the after-school program are graduating! Without you, none of this would be possible.

A Bumpy Path: One young woman reflects on her struggles, and dreams of a brighter future

Sep. 26 2017 | Tags: , ,

On September 14th, Dale, an AFG Shelter resident, gave this speech at the Positive Choices, Powerful Lives event. 

I’ve always loved the idea of not being what people expected me to be. I’ve always strived to do the best I can in my own different and artistic way. My life has always been sunny and sweet but as soon as I became a young adult I found myself going down a dark path. At 20 years old, I was homeless and pregnant with no direction or plan at all. The saddest part for me was that I was exactly what people expected, a young black girl who got pregnant and couldn’t do anything for herself or her child. Just another statistic.

Having nowhere to turn and fearing for the wellbeing of my child, I heard about Alternatives For Girls. I, of course, needed shelter but guidance is what I was really after! My goal at the time was to get some type of insight so I could do better and provide for my child. It’s been a slow and trying process but being with AFG for five months, I’ve really made some progress.

Before AFG I had no job, no plan, very little self-esteem, and no emotional coping skills. While living in the shelter, AFG helped me get two different jobs, one at Sew Great Detroit and the other through Grow Detroit’s Young Talent program. They also gave me a case planner who quickly helped me develop a plan, and I was also able to find hobbies to help me cope emotionally and build my self-esteem.

Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.” While at AFG I’ve learned that there are many different things that can happen in life, but as long as you believe in yourself and work hard everything will fall into place.

I will say this, “It’s not going to be alright, it’s already alright.” A path was paved for me to go down! It may seem bumpy but we live in Michigan, all the roads are messed up. My plan for the future is to obtain a place in which to raise my daughter safely and comfortably, go to school for mortuary science, start my career as a mortician, eventually building a funeral business, and then giving back to the community once I have the means. I was born a winner, not a loser, and I will never give up!

AFG Blog: Meet Katie

Dec. 2 2016 | Tags: , ,

The author of this month’s AFG Blog, Katie*, shares her story of becoming homeless and finding a home at Alternatives For Girls.

I’ve lived at Alternatives For Girls for six months now. Long time right? I know, but I’m thankful I was able to even stay that long. Before coming to AFG it was rough. My friend got put out of her home and my family said she could come live with us. But, my family grew to be unhappy with the situation and asked us both to leave. For the next seven months, my whole life did a 360. It was the worst experience. I was scared, I had nowhere to go. I went from hotel to hotel, to people I called “friends and family”. I used to work overtime just so I didn’t have to be outside. I sold my phones, my clothes, shoes, and my laptop from school, so we could have a place to sleep.

I became involved with AFG after I was looking on my phone for different shelters. I had visited AFG once before and after looking at pictures, my friend and I decided to call to see if we could stay. I didn’t want to go to a shelter, I was scared, but I felt like it was the best decision.

Once I got on the right track, I had so many job opportunities sent my way, with help from the staff, especially Ms. Angela, Ms. Julia, and Ms. Shanae. AFG is like a family to me, from some of the staff to the residents there. They push me and support me in anything I need. I will truly miss them when I leave. But I’m so glad to come across the opportunity.

The lessons I’ve learned were: being independent, staying focused, and working hard. I use to depend on the world to have my back, but I got a wakeup call and now I just depend on myself. I work so hard because it feels so good when you do it yourself! Since I’ve been at AFG, I’ve managed to accomplish the goals I set for myself like becoming stable, having steady jobs and being happy. I did this with the help of my Resident Advisor, Ms. McKeba. She’s the best and I love her dearly! She pushes me so hard and sometimes I ask “Oh my God, why me?” But I’m glad she sees the potential in me to do better.

My plans for the future are to be genuinely happy and comfortable and to make my family and friends proud! To show the world the great independent woman I’ve become! I love kids and want to become a childcare director or pediatrician.

I really found my passion at AFG too.  I’ve always loved kids but working with the AFG Rise N’ Shine summer camp was the best job I’ve ever had. No worries, just pure happiness. We laughed, they drove me crazy, but I’d do it all over again.

Being a part of AFG gave me a chance to find myself, try to stress less, and remain focused. They gave me housing opportunities once I entered into the long-term program. I also attended groups, where I have learned life skills that I’ll take with me when I move into my own housing soon.

AFG really wasn’t a shelter to me, it was a home I always wanted. Yes, we bicker and stuff here and there but its love. It wasn’t about it even being a shelter to me once I got used to it, it was what I made it and I made it a good experience and I love every bit of it. I really can’t wait to have my own home. But I know I’ll cry like a baby. You guys just don’t understand, without AFG I wouldn’t be where I am today. Thank you for being a part of me and taking a toll on me. AFG is there when you have no one else. Thank you for letting me tell my story.

*Name has been changed to protect her confidentiality. 

AFG Blog: “I can finally begin focusing on myself…”

Dec. 1 2014 | Tags: , ,

Shelter resident, Natashia*, gave the following speech at a recent event for AFG. This is her story, in her own words:  

My name is Natashia* and I am 19 years old. To be an independent young woman nowadays is very unique to me. Normally, you see a lot of women who are very dependent on their other half, which isn’t too healthy. I was living in an apartment with my boyfriend and another roommate. Our roommate didn’t pay her portion of the rent, and so we were evicted. My parents basically disregarded me, and so their home is not welcome to me. As for friends, I choose not to have many because of distractions, so for the few that I do have, they’re all going through something and I don’t need the added stress of their problems as well as my own. My boyfriend and I began living from place to place and eventually ended up living in a storage unit. During this time, I had a job but I didn’t have any transportation so I was walking one and a half hours to work each direction, sometimes in the dark. I went wrong moving in with my boyfriend too soon, and even though he had (or so it seemed), all of his stuff together, as humans, we tend to forget that any situation or circumstance isn’t certain; it can change in an instant as my life recently did.

A few weeks ago, I felt like I had completely lost almost all control I had over my life and the events that took place in it. I wanted to just lay down somewhere and give up. But my conscious mind told me that giving up doesn’t solve any problem; it never has and it never will. So I kept pushing through. Then I was referred to AFG by my boyfriend’s mother. Boy, that was the last thing I wanted to do. My perception of a shelter was twisted and so I didn’t see any way that just having a bed for a few hours could help me get my life together. Imagine my surprise once I arrived! Alternatives For Girls is nothing like I could have ever imagined, and in a few days I was finally able to relax and clear my head.

Last week, I was accepted to the Transition to Independent Living Program at AFG! This program will be beneficial towards helping me reach that stability that I’ve somehow lost in my life. I can finally begin focusing on myself and what I really want to accomplish. I want to get back in school and take up psychology and marketing. I want to someday help others and give them the chance to straighten out their problems and reach the goals that they once thought impossible, just as AFG has so far done for me. All of the one and a half hour walks to work and back, the studying at the library, the stress and hardships that I have and may have to continue facing in the future will only make my success that much more to be proud of.

My short-term goals consist of me getting a job and enrolling in school so that I can set the course for my 2-year goal, which is where I would like to have a stable, good job, a better relationship with family and friends, and to have a clear view of how I want my life to go from there on. I have the motivation and the drive to get to where I need to go and I feel like the AFG program is my set of keys.

*Name has been changed to protect confidentiality.

AFG Blog: “I am possible!”

Sep. 30 2014 | Tags: , ,

On September 23rd, Joy, a Shelter resident, gave this speech at AFG’s “Planting Roots” event.

Hello my name is Joy Evans.

21 years ago I celebrated my first birthday in a women’s battered shelter. At the age of 15 I entered into my first youth homeless program by choice, due to my mother’s neglectful behavior. Throughout my life my mother struggled with addiction which made it hard for her to provide for me. I relied on many shelter programs in several different states throughout my teen years. At the age of 20 I became involved with Alternatives For Girls. I was homeless and found out I was pregnant. I knew I needed to obtain resources to maintain financial independence, and gain life and parenting skills. I needed assistance with prenatal care, a safe place to help with my pregnancy, and education on newborn care.

Once I became a resident at Alternatives For Girls I obtained proper insurance, prenatal vitamins, and scheduled prenatal appointments with an OB/GYN. In August, I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl! Since beginning this new chapter of motherhood I still rely on the support system and resources at AFG. While at AFG I was able to obtain a job, save up money, and I am currently transitioning into my own apartment! I will also be attending online college in the winter to obtain my associates degree. I am now on a new path to maintain a stable life for me and my daughter.

My future plans are to have two jobs when my daughter enters Head Start. Attend university when my daughter enters elementary and earn a master’s degree before she enters high school. By the time she enters middle school I would like to buy my first house which will be my family home and I hope to have it paid off by the time she graduates college and pass it down to her. Because I don’t have a family home to visit, I would love to be able to provide that to her. I love to give and teach to others and I strive to be the solution to many social problems such as high school drop outs and youth homelessness. I feel passionate about these issues because I overcame them myself, and as a result, I’ve had so many opportunities and doors open for me.

Thanks to the supportive staff members at AFG, especially the shelter director Ms. Carolyn, the shelter manager Ms. Shelia, and my case planner Ms. Carmen, I’ve been able to utilize the skills I’ve learned in order to maintain an independent lifestyle. In the last 9 months, I’ve completed the goals I set for myself when I came to AFG: obtaining a job, saving money, and finding my own apartment! I would like to thank AFG for allowing me into the program. Over time I’ve learned “when you think something is impossible… simply say I AM POSSIBLE!” Thank you.

AFG Blog: Becoming a Good Student

Nov. 26 2013 | Tags: , , ,

On October 29th, Rosa, a member of AFG’s Prevention program, gave this speech at AFG’s “Dream Warriors” event.

Good evening everybody. My name is Rosa Morales and I am 15 years old. This is my second year in AFG’s after-school program.

Before I started at AFG I didn’t really care about school. I was doing badly in school. My grades were just so bad. My parents always told me to try my best but it was like it entered through one ear and came out the other.

My parents signed me up for AFG because they heard it was going to help me. I come to AFG after school two or three days a week. They pick me up from school and bring me to AFG. During the after-school program, they help me with my homework. We talk about how our day went, our plans for college, and what we want to be in the future.  We also help the kids from the middle school group with their homework.

At AFG I feel happy and when I’m with the AFG girls I feel like they’re part of my family. At AFG, we can talk about uncomfortable stuff that I wouldn’t want to talk about with my parents, like STDs.

Some lessons I learned at AFG was that I need to be myself and express myself as who I am and let all the bad out of me. I’m doing better in school. I used to get Cs, Ds, and Fs, and now, just one year later, I’m an A and B student. My parents are so proud of me. Now, I’m a more positive, open-minded person. I’ve learned to have patience. Now I like to see everyone happy—if I see someone who is sad, I’ll go over and talk to them to see if I can do anything to make them happy.

Some plans I have for my future is to keep coming to AFG and spread the word about AFG. AFG has made a change on my life. I plan to graduate from high school and go to college. I want to study nursing and become a pediatric nurse. I like helping kids and I know I can make a change.