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Alternatives For Girls’ 2019 Prom: For the second year in a row, girls and women who were not able to attend their own prom attended a special celebration made possible by donors and volunteers

Aug. 30 2019 |

This month, Alternatives For Girls held its second prom! The event was held for the girls and women in AFG’s programs who were not able to attend their own prom. On the day of the event, staff and volunteers transformed a local community room into a beautiful ballroom. Thanks to many generous individuals, businesses, and groups, the room was complete with sound, lighting, a special favor bar with lots of candy, and formal tablescapes.

Before the prom began, the girls and women were pampered by volunteer hairstylists and makeup artists. Once they were ready, they put on their beautiful dresses, shoes, and accessories, which were all donated by generous individuals, and walked down the red carpet. After getting their photo taken, the party began!

Everyone enjoyed a delicious dinner, complete with amazing desserts. A special recognition ceremony was held for the New Choices program’s two Peer Leaders who are graduating from the program. Both women were crowned Prom Queen, and everyone in attendance helped them celebrate their many accomplishments.

Finally, it was time to dance! The dancing and celebration continued until the night came to a close. Each girl and woman left with a smile on their face, grateful for experiencing the special evening.

Alternatives For Girls would like to thank all of the donors and volunteers who made the AFG Prom possible! We could not have done it without your support.

It’s time to Rise N’ Shine!: AFG’s free, six-week summer camp, Rise N’ Shine, is in full swing

Jul. 25 2019 | Tags: , , ,

On July 8th, the Rise N’ Shine summer camp began! The free, six-week summer camp gives girls in southwest Detroit a safe space to learn new things, improve their reading skills, make friends, and have fun. For three days each week, the campers spend the day participating in fun, educational workshops and field trips. This summer, workshops include science, dance, arts and crafts, gardening, nutrition, and more.

This year, the campers are between the ages of 7 to 15 years old. Each girl is assigned to one of three age groups, which determines the workshops they will attend each day. We sat down with some of the campers* from each group to hear about their favorite workshops, what they’ve learned, and more!

Sarah, Red Group (ages 10-11)

“My favorite part of Rise N’ Shine is the different people you get to meet!” Sarah exclaims. Sarah has been coming to Rise N’ Shine for six years. “I like that Rise N’ Shine is different every day,” she shares. The Red Group’s weekly workshops include African dance, STEAM (which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math), gardening, and nutrition. Sarah’s favorite workshop? Bike Club! Back Alley Bikes, non-profit community bike shop, is hosting the Bike Club workshop this summer. The campers are learning bike safety, how to change a tire, how to find a bike that fits their body, and more. They also go on bike rides together and have visited local businesses and gardens!

Mae, Yellow Group (ages 7-9)

Another Rise N’ Shine veteran, Mae has been coming to the camp for three years. “I love being able to talk to my friends!” Mae exclaims. In the Yellow Group, Mae and her friends attend gardening, science, theater, dance, and nutrition workshops. “My favorite workshop is gardening!” Mae says. In the gardening workshop, facilitated by the Detroit Garden Center, the campers learn the basics of planting, composting, and harvesting. “I like that we get to plant stuff, like flowers!” Mae shares. Mae’s second favorite workshop is science where she gets to do fun science experiments like making slime!

Christina, Blue Group (ages 11-15)

This is Christina’s first summer coming to Rise N’ Shine! “It’s fun! The girls in my group are great!” she smiles. The Blue Group attend arts and crafts, Chinese language and culture, science, nutrition, and STEAM workshops. Christina’s favorite workshop is arts and crafts. The campers get to stretch their artistic muscles by creating their own jewelry, picture frames, and more. “I also love the science workshop. We made rockets out of paper and launched them out of a tube,” she explains with her eyes wide. One thing Christina will always remember are the friends she made this summer, “I think we will all stay friends for a long time!”

A big thank you to all of the Rise N’ Shine volunteers, workshop facilitators, and everyone who has supported the camp this year!    

*Names have been changed to protect their confidentiality.

Searching for Stability: After finding AFG’s shelter, Jordan can finally focus on her future

Jul. 3 2019 | Tags: ,


That’s what Jordan* felt when she and her daughter arrived at Alternatives For Girls.

As she tells her story, she re­lives the emotion. Her shoulders un-tense. She mimics a “phew” sound. She melts into the chair and smiles at her daughter who is playing nearby.

Searching for Stability

Jordan’s parents both died when she was young. She lived with her sister for a while, but wasn’t receiving the support or care she needed.

She was often left to care for her young nephew after school, leaving her little time to study. After missing an important final because she needed to care for her nephew, Jordan was almost held back a grade.

During her senior year, Jordan found out she was pregnant with her daughter. Her sister kicked her out, and Jordan had to search for a place to stay.

“Ever since that time, I’ve had a hard time being stable,” Jordan shares.

Vulnerable. Alone.

Jordan became homeless. For a while, Jordan was able to stay with friends and acquaintances. Finishing her education was so important to her that she managed to graduate high school during this time.

When her options ran out, Jordan faced being out on the streets with her daughter.

Finding Stability

Jordan called AFG, and was able to move in within an hour. Fi­nally, Jordan was able to exhale. For years, all of her energy was focused on just surviving. Once she was in AFG’s shelter, she was able to focus on herself, her daughter, and her goals.

She didn’t let any time go to waste. Once she settled in, Jordan began to learn skills that will help her live on her own.

“Now that I have somewhere that can support what I need, I’m able to be more focused on my end goals,” she shares.

A Bright Future

Jordan is working towards getting a good job, a car, and an apartment for her and her daughter. In the future, she plans to continue her education and study engineering.

It’s because of your support that young women have a stable place to stay and the support they need to reach their goals. Thank you for supporting girls and young women!

 *Name has been changed to protect her confidentiality.

“I did it!”: AFG’s high school graduates share their struggles and triumphs

Jun. 3 2019 | Tags: , , ,

This spring, young women from AFG’s programs are graduating high school! Because of your support, they each received the help they needed to stay focused on their education, earn their diploma, and make plans for the future. Below are a couple of stories from this year’s high school graduates.

Ready for the Future

Meet Yasmine. Yasmine is 17 years old and has been a participant in AFG’s Peer Education program for two years. “High school was challenging at times,” Yasmine recalls. “During my junior year, I transferred to a different school. I was scared at first because I didn’t know anyone and the classes were harder.”

When she needed help with her homework, Yasmine knew just where to turn. “AFG helped me get tutoring in math when I was struggling,” she shares. This fall, Yasmine will be starting her first year of college, where she plans to study social work!

Now that she’s almost done with high school, Yasmine says she will miss her friends and seeing her favorite teachers every day. She is looking forward to the independence that college will bring her, “I’m looking forward to living on my own,” she smiles.

As a soon to be high school graduate, Yasmine had plenty of advice for her younger peers, “Don’t hang around with negative crowds. Be around people who make you laugh and smile! And do your work!”

A Bright Future

Meet Jamica. Jamica has been a resident in AFG’s shelter since last year. “In the beginning, high school was hard. I didn’t have classes I was interested in and struggled to stay focused,” Jamica explains. “My senior year was even harder, because I missed a lot of school.”

Since Jamica came to AFG’s shelter, she has received support that has allowed her to catch up on her school work. She was able to get all the credits she needed to graduate this spring! “AFG also helped me pay my senior dues, and they helped provide me with school supplies and clothing,” Jamica recalls.

During high school, Jamica discovered the classes she liked best were the ones that allowed her to work with her hands. Recently, she had the opportunity to go to a trade conference where she learned about different trades and career paths she could follow. “I really enjoyed learning about tiling!” Jamica exclaims. Jamica had a lot of advice for her younger peers, “Stay on top of your work! And make sure you work before you play. Get into different activities, and don’t work yourself too hard. Have fun!”

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.