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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]

[1] https://endhomelessness.org/homelessness-in-america/who-experiences-homelessness/youth/#:~:text=How%20Many%20Youth%20Are%20Homeless,under%20the%20age%20of%2018.

[2] https://www.ojp.gov/files/archives/blogs/2019/invisible-faces-runaway-and-homeless-youth

[3] https://polarisproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Polaris-2019-US-National-Human-Trafficking-Hotline-Data-Report.pdf

[4] https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/publications/serving-our-youth-lgbtq/

[5] https://www.chapinhall.org/wp-content/uploads/ChapinHall_VoYC_1-Pager_Final_111517.pdf

[6] https://www.1800runaway.org/prevention-education/educational-and-outreach-materials

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.  

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 agood@alternativesforgirls.org 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 dbarrack@alternativesforgirls.org.

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: First Assistant Chief of Police, Lashinda Stair, will receive the Role Model Award in March

Mar. 5 2019 |

Meet Lashinda Stair, one of our 2019 Role Models. Lashinda is the First Assistant Chief of Police for the Detroit Police Department (DPD), the first member of the DPD to ever be appointed to this rank. During her 23 year career in the DPD, she has also held the ranks of Police Officer, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Inspector and Deputy Chief. Lashinda is currently enrolled in the MBA Program at Wayne State University, and holds Master’s and Bachelor degrees from Eastern Michigan University and Wayne State University. 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 a support system to help them make positive choices. Was there anyone in your life or career who has helped guide you in making important decisions?

Lashinda Stair:  The women in my family, and some of the men in my family, too. As well as one of my earliest mentors in the department, who is the retired Assistant Chief.  I knew him when I was in high school at Cass Tech. He always looked out for me, and when I wanted to go into a different unit, which would have made me work nights and be in court a lot, he called me down to his office and said “If you have time to do this job, you have time to go back to school in finish your degree.” He was right, and I did go back and get my degree!

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?

Stair: I’m from Chicago and had a very young mom. She had this incredible work ethic and always made sure to put her children first. So even though she was a teenage mother, she did what she could to put us first. But I know that not all young moms have the resources to do that. As a mom of a 15 year old, it’s easy for me to see the haves and have nots and look at the environments that these young people are in and know that things are not even. That inspires me to give back, because a lot of people don’t know what they can do unless they see it in someone else.

AFG: Who are your role models?

Stair: There are so many! It may sound crazy, but Michelle Obama. I’m looking at a picture of us together right now. What an incredible story, which is similar to mine. Coming from humble beginnings, making sure she stayed in school. And then marrying someone phenomenal, supporting him but still doing her own thing, and serving our nation and inspiring others to do what they need to do. I would certainly consider her a role model.

AFG: Which of your accomplishments are you the proudest of?

Stair: My children. I have a son who’s a freshmen in high school, and a daughter who’s a sophomore. Watching them grow up makes me reflect back on my own childhood. The life that my daughter lives I didn’t even know existed. I’m also proud of my relationship with people. That’s how I get my work done day to day. And the people around me are amazing!  

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

Stair:  I would say always know that where you started does not define where you’ll end up.

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

Stair: I think it’s important because girls and young women, we really rule the world and everything around us. And all of us are more alike than we are different. Often times we don’t know it. And we’re all capable of doing amazing things. It’s important to reinforce that so we can continue to prosper as a city, a region, and all over the world.

The 2019 Role Model Dinner will be held on Wednesday, March 27th at MGM Grand Detroit. Click here to learn more or to purchase a ticket.

Meet the Role Model: Meritor Inc.’s Linda Taliaferro will receive the Role Model Award in March

Mar. 5 2019 |

Meet Linda Taliaferro, our final 2019 Role Model. Linda is the Vice President of Global Quality for Meritor, Inc. Prior to joining Meritor, Linda held positions at Littelfuse, Inc., Johnson Controls, Inc., and Hayes Lemmerz, Inc. (now Maxion Wheels). She also founded The TEE – The Extra Effort, a career advisory service that assists women in changing the trajectory of their careers within corporate America. 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 a support system to help them make positive choices. Was there anyone in your life or career who has helped guide you in making important decisions?

Linda Taliaferro:  I had many conscientious, kind people that came across my way that advocated for me or whispered in my ear and gave me advice. Scott Harrison, was a phenomenal boss that I had when I was moving into the executive level. I know I wouldn’t have achieved what I have if it wasn’t for him. I’ve had many other people that stepped up and helped when they didn’t have to. I’ve had the luxury of some great friends. You have to be selective of who you call your friends. Friends are not those people who tell you want you want to hear, but who tell you what you need to hear to make you do better.

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?

Taliaferro: I grew up in a small town, my parents were hard working blue collar people. They divorced when I was 8 years old, so there were some challenging times before my mom remarried. She waited until I graduated and was going to college before remarrying. It was during those ten years, when it was just me and my mom, the critical people in my life, my uncle, a teacher, someone in my church community, kept me focused on my educational goals and becoming a VP one day. It’s those experiences that made me who I am today. My mom did the best she could, although we were low income, to introduce me to activities, like girl scouts. The teacher I mentioned, and the woman in my church, my uncle, they saw something in me and made me who I am today. My uncle told me I was good at math and science, and to keep going. Those three key people in my life that positively reinforced things to me, they inspired me to help young people.

It doesn’t matter where you come from, you can do whatever you want. I persevered through being different, and I made it where I am today. And for girls who might not be the prettiest or most popular, that doesn’t matter. What matters is being focused and working hard. It has a long term effect. Because I had the people in my life who took the time to care, I wanted to give back to the young people in life.

AFG: Who are your role models?

Taliaferro: My uncle Chester was my number one role model. He was my role model because of how he led his life; family was important to him. It’s hard to narrow down. There are people out there, famous ones, some that aren’t so famous, that really spent time reaching back and making a difference for where they are today or where they life today. LeBron James, he is an excellent role model for young people today. He became an overnight success at 18, but here has never been anything negative about him. But he also gives back, won a championship for Cleveland and then he opened a school. He’s now thinking about “What legacy can I leave for my kids?” He is an athlete that young people can look to for how to live your life. He could have gone off the tracks, but he didn’t. He is someone they can emulate, not to become a famous basketball player, but to learn how to work hard, how to sharpen my skills, be a good citizen, and position myself to give back. For me personally, my uncle is the only role model that I had. But, he did what LeBron did, and he also played professional football! There are a lot of things that could have happened that didn’t, a lot of bad decision he could have made that he didn’t. I can’t tell you the number of times he helped someone who needed it.

AFG: Which of your accomplishments are you the proudest of?

Taliaferro:  The people I’ve come across in my life that I’ve helped in their career. There are people that email me and tell me “I got this award”, and “I’ve been promoted and I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you.” Their successes are my greatest accomplishment. Which is why I started my own company, to do help do more of that.

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

Taliaferro:  I would tell [the girls and young women in Alternatives For Girls programs] to latch on to every second that you have within this organization because AFG is valuable. Part of the reason I’m so excited to be honored is because I get to mentor some of these young women. The girls and young women may have some people in their lives that are really speaking in their ear, and they might be sick of hearing that grades are important or to have good friends, but they will be glad if they listen to those things. It’s invaluable to even have one person who can help you listen to those things.

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

Taliaferro:  [Empowering girls and young women is important] because, I truly believe, they are really why families are successful, they are the leaders within families. So they also impact the country. That is what is so important for positive growth and development, it’s women. It’s unfortunate that there isn’t enough focus or attention on young girls, especially if they aren’t in the right neighborhood or zip codes. And a lot of people think boys are leaders and girls are not, and that view has been around for a long time. It’s important for girls to have balance, to be powerful and feminine and do whatever it is you want to do in life. That’s what is extremely important.

My mom did her best and taught me to do the bare minimum. But when I tried to do more and aspired to do more, she never stopped me. It’s amazing what women can do, when she grew up that wasn’t the case. That’s why we need to do what we can to move the needle for girls. Especially young women of color. We can make these changes, but we have to be a part of the change. That’s why I think it’s important to advocate for that change, and why Alternatives For Girls is so important, and why I’m on the board of the Girl Scouts, which is another organization moving the needle, and involved in STEM activities for girls; because we will face the future of our county. And we see it happening already with young women making change.

The 2019 Role Model Dinner will be held on Wednesday, March 27th at MGM Grand Detroit. Click here to learn more or to purchase a ticket.

Sew Great Detroit Member and Volunteers Participate in the Detroit Free Press Marathon

Oct. 30 2018 | Tags: ,

This month, members and volunteers of Sew Great Detroit participated in the Detroit Free Press Marathon 5k race! We talked to Sharon, SGD member, after the race was over to discuss the exciting experience.

Alternatives For Girls (AFG): Sharon, why did you want to enter the Detroit Free Press Marathon 5K event?

Sharon: I wanted to make another healthy change in my life and I want to encourage other women and girls to make healthy changes in their lives.

AFG: What did you enjoy the most about being in the 5K?

Sharon: I loved talking with all the people.  Everywhere I turned my head I saw something I liked, a little baby smiling at me or someone ringing a bell for me.  And I liked being on the Riverwalk.  It was beautiful.  There is so much to see and do downtown.  Now I want to take my grandsons to the Riverwalk and walk with them.

AFG: What did it feel like when the finish sign was in sight?

Sharon: When I could see the sign for the finish line in the distance I was really happy.  Then I saw all the people waving to me and cheering for me and ringing the bells.  I kept walking at my pace but inside I was running and jumping and even doing cartwheels.  It was a great feeling.

AFG: What inspired you most about the experience?

Sharon: I was most inspired knowing that I was walking not just for me but for others, like the girls and women who come to Alternatives For Girls.  I was inspired by other people in the race too like cancer survivors and people who are elderly.

Congratulations on this amazing accomplishment, Sharon!

Volunteer Opportunities at Alternatives For Girls

Jun. 2 2016 | Tags: , , , ,

More than 300 volunteers give over 20,000 hours of their time and talents to Alternatives For Girls each year!  The programs provided for girls and young women at AFG could not be done without volunteers. For more information on our current volunteer opportunities and how to become a volunteer at AFG, contact our Volunteer Services Manager, Jenny Clement, at 313-361-4000 ext. 248 or volunteering@alternativesforgirls.org.  


Resource Center Volunteer

AFG’s Resource Center manages a walk-in center and a 24/7 crisis line for those in the community that are in crisis or in need of services. Volunteers will serve as a listening ear and a conduit of information about resources inside and outside of AFG. Volunteers will answer the phone and assist any walk-ins seeking assistance. Shifts are available Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Evening shifts are preferred.



AFG’s Asset Building Project is a new program aimed at helping young women prepare financially, academically, and culturally for post-secondary education (read about it here in our Spring 2016 Newsletter). The program is in need of mentors to work with the middle school aged girls enrolled in the program. The mentor serves as a positive role model for their assigned mentee and will work to support, guide, and help her prepare for college. Mentors meet with their mentees a few times each month to engage in educational and recreational activities. Mentoring takes place during the evening or on the weekend. Spanish speaking mentors preferred. 


Rise N’ Shine Summer Camp Volunteers

AFG’s Rise N’ Shine summer camp is a free day camp for girls between the ages of 4-14 living in southwest Detroit. Rise N’ Shine provides fun and educational workshops, field trips, and more. Volunteer chaperones are needed to assist with Rise N’ Shine field trips with on Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 beginning July 7th.