Events Archives - Alternatives For Girls

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Meet the Role Model: Franklin Community Church’s Dr. Althea Simpson will receive the Role Model Award this March

Feb. 5 2019 | Tags: , ,

Meet Dr. Althea Simpson, one of our 2019 Role Models. Dr. Simpson is the Director of Discipleship at Franklin Community Church. She is dedicated to increasing awareness about human trafficking and does so by hosting symposiums and workshops in the community. Dr. Simpson earned a law degree at Syracuse University College of Law, and Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Ecumenical Theological Seminary. 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?

Dr. Althea Simpson: There are so many people! My mom was a master in helping me make decisions. Not always the way you wanted to hear it, but she always had great information and guidance. Sometimes she was stern, sometimes she was playful, but she always was there to give me guidance. My aunts and uncles have also been amazing people. They are always there to freely share and give an opinion. Sometimes you have people in your life who don’t want to be involved someone making a bad decision, so they don’t give their input. I wasn’t raised by those people! Having people that were honest, definitely helped.

AFG: Can you tell us about some of the challenges you’ve faced throughout your career?

Simpson: My first career was law, I was a lawyer practicing full time for a number of years. I went back to seminary and went back to school in the midst of that. The challenge has always been balance. Balancing work with family, your community, and your commitments. Finding the time to be both passionate and present, has always been difficult. And I still have the challenge now. It’s one thing to be there, it’s another to be present, in all places, and give something that is appropriate and necessary, without burning yourself out and driving yourself crazy. We as women try to be Superwoman sometimes. We have to realize that quality of life demands balance. For me it’s a constant struggle.

AFG: Who are your role models?

Simpson: One of my elementary teachers, Maddie Mitchell. She was a great inspiration to me. She was a Christian women, a wife, a mom, but she always had time for us as her students. She was a great influence. I’ve seen her since I’ve grown and she’s still doing her thing. She’s definitely one of my role models. There are also so many women that I see out in the world who make an impact in the workplace and at home and in the community. I see role models everywhere. When I think about role models, I think about people who love you for what you can give. Some people are my role models for one thing, but not my role model for others. So I can say, I love her persistence. I want to be like that. I have so many role models!

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

Simpson: Finishing my dissertation. That was huge step in getting my doctorate and it was a big achievement for me. Doing the research, coming up with a theory, doing the project, getting to know my topic. I learned many new skills and new techniques. Putting it all together, presenting, getting my hood; it was a thrill. Getting my dissertation bound and put in a library that was a big thrill. I have lots of others. I have a lot of things to be grateful for. But I do remember the thrill of that.

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

Simpson: I would say that the importance of a good education cannot be underestimated. You can take care of yourself by getting the best education you can. Everything does not come easy. It is very arrogant to think you can look at something and understand it right away. There is no reason to be afraid to ask for help.

In the midst of striving for education, make sure that you learn about the world around you. Make sure that you make good choices and that those you let into your life are people who are positive for you, not negative.

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

Simpson: Women are the natural nurturers. Many times, we are so busy taking care of others that we don’t take care of ourselves. I think it is so important that we empower girls and women with the ability to see themselves and the value of themselves, so that in the midst of nurturing others around them they take the steps to nurture and advance themselves. And I think that’s something that you are taught and learn to do. Otherwise, the instinct is just to care, give, care, give, until there is nothing left. The older I get, the more I learn that you can’t take care of anyone if you don’t take care of yourself. And also, nurtured self-love, that is healthy and positive, helps you to see that you can do anything. I think we need more of that “We can do anything” attitude between girls and women. Often we are limited and don’t reach beyond what we think we can accomplish. We tend to not have a positive push to say you can do it.

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.

Project Giving Tree Spreads Joy AFG’s annual giving program helps provide holiday gifts for hundreds of girls and young women

Dec. 20 2018 | Tags: , ,

December has been filled with joy and celebration, thanks to our holiday giving program Project Giving Tree (PGT). Each year, the girls and young women at Alternatives For Girls create a wish list that includes items they are in need of that year. The wish lists include items such as clothing, winter boots, coats, scarves, and gloves, as well as fun items such as books, jewelry, or toys.

Once the wish lists are filled out, they are sponsored by businesses, organizations, church groups, and individuals. This year, our generous PGT donors fulfilled hundreds of wish lists! The gifts collected during PGT are given to the girls and young women at each program’s holiday party throughout the month of December. Every party was filled with wonderful food, games, arts & crafts, and music.

The first party of the month was for the Safe Choices program, which serves women of all ages through street outreach. With the help of volunteers, the AFG Street Outreach vans drive around and pick up women who are part of the Safe Choices program. The party included a delicious meal, beautiful decorations, and time to share what they learned this year.

The AFG’s Shelter held an eventful party for the young women and children in AFG’s Shelter programs. The night began with a bountiful meal, and included arts and crafts and a DJ! Later in the evening, the children had the chance to meet Santa Claus.

AFG’s Outreach program held a party for the Peer Educators, while the AFG Prevention program held its annual craft fair. At the end of all of the parties, the girls and young women received their gifts from the generous Project Giving Tree donors. Plenty of smiles filled the room as each girl and young woman opened her gifts.

Alternatives For Girls would like to thank each person who participated in Project Giving Tree this year, as well as the wonderful volunteers and sponsors who made all of the holiday parties possible!

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!

Alternatives For Girls’ Prom

Aug. 31 2018 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

On August 17th, Alternatives For Girls held its first ever 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 AFG’s 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 make-up 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!

The girls and women had a blast dancing along to the music, courtesy of DJ Rue. After some dancing, everyone enjoyed a delicious dinner, complete with dessert. The highlight of the night came when each girl and woman was pronounced Prom Queen! Each of them received their very own crown, and many teared up while putting it on.

The dancing 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.

Rise N’ Shine Finale

Aug. 31 2018 | Tags: , , , , , ,

On August 16th, AFG’s Rise N’ Shine summer camp came to an end. Rise N’ Shine is a free six-week summer camp that gives girls living in southwest Detroit a safe space to learn new things, improve their reading skills, and make friends. For three days each week, the campers spend the day participating in fun, educational workshops and field trips. This summer, workshops included: gardening, dancing, science, and more.

The 74 campers celebrated their memorable summer with a fun end of summer finale. The finale allows the camper’s families to see what they’ve learned and created throughout the summer. The excitement was kicked off with a performance from the 7-9 year old group. Throughout the summer, they completed a dance and movement workshop with ArtLab J and had a blast learning the choreography for the dance. Their hard work and practice paid off once they were able to perform their masterpiece for friends and family. Judging by the applause, the audience thoroughly enjoyed their performance!

That wasn’t the only original performance of the day, the 9-11 year group and the 12-14 year old group also performed dances with the help of ArtLab J and Heritage Works, respectively. The latter group wore traditional outfits and danced along to the drum beat to deliver a fun and energetic performance that was definitely a crowd favorite. The final performance of the day was from the 9-11 year old group and 12-14 year old group. The groups worked with Matrix Theatre to create an empowering performance using voice and movement.

Finally, certificates and yearbooks were distributed. In the end, there were a lot of smiles and hugs as the girls signed each other’s yearbooks and waved goodbye for now. Before leaving, Anahi reflected on her summer at AFG, “My favorite part of Rise N’ Shine is meeting friends.” Vanessa agrees, and adds, “Don’t forget about the fieldtrips! My favorite one was the water park!”

Alternatives For Girls would like to thank all of the volunteers and donors who supported Rise N’ Shine this summer. Thank you for making it a summer the girls will never forget!

Rise Up, City Rose: Alternatives For Girls celebrates the resilience of women at the annual Role Model Dinner

Apr. 6 2018 | Tags: , , ,

On March 28, Alternatives For Girls held the annual Role Model Dinner at Cobo Center. The event raised over $285,000 to support our critical work!

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, Rise Up, City Rose. The evening closed with the thrilling “Fund the Mission,” led by auctioneer Chris Aslanian, during which event guests pledged monetary support to AFG.

The program was a time of reflection and inspiration as the young women of AFG and the 2018 Role Models shared their stories. Many shared empowering messages, like this statement from Role Model Awardee Monica L. Martinez of Comerica Bank, “My advice to the women and girls of AFG is – life is not always easy, but with hope, the right people behind you and hard work, you can accomplish anything!

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; Rose, Kaye-Lynn, Eboni, Sierra, and Leah, who shared their stories and showed us the courage it takes to rise up and become who they really are.

AFG also gratefully thanks this year’s Role Model Dinner Presenting Sponsor, DTE Energy Foundation, as well as the following dinner sponsors: PVS Chemicals, AVL, Ford Motor Company, The Rush Group, The Suburban Collection, Beaumont Hospital, Piston Group, Argent Group, Comerica Bank, Corporate F.A.C.T.S., General Motors, Greektown Casino-Hotel, Health Alliance Plan, Home Depot, Marathon Petroleum Company, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, Metro West Chapter of Credit Unions, Pam Rodgers, The Skillman Foundation, Special D Events, Trinity Health, Willis Towers Watson, Yazaki North America, George Johnson & Company, Michigan First Credit Union, Ottenwess, Taweel, & Schenk, PLC, University of Michigan Credit Union, WDIV Local 4 News, Hour Detroit, and Union AdWorks.  

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

Meet the Role Model: Attorney and Writer Deborah LaBelle

Feb. 28 2018 | Tags: ,

Meet Deborah LaBelle, another one of our 2018 Role Models. Deborah is an attorney and writer whose advocacy focuses on the human rights of people in detention, the intersection of race and gender, and the rights of children in the criminal justice and education systems in the United States. In addition to her private practice, Deborah is the Director of the Juvenile Life Without Parole Initiative for the ACLU of Michigan and Coordinator of Michigan’s Juvenile Mitigation Access Committee. She has been lead counsel in over a dozen class actions that have successfully challenged policies affecting the treatment and sentencing of incarcerated men, women and children, utilizing a human rights framework. She has represented clients before the United States Supreme Court and in international forums with an integrated model for reform utilizing concurrent litigation, documentation and advocacy strategies. She is being recognized for her outstanding professional accomplishments and commitment to fighting for human rights 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?

Deborah LaBelle: I think that mentors were very important to me all along the way. Besides my family, who were mentors for helping me believe in myself, I’ve had many mentors throughout my career. If it was one thing I wouldn’t give up, it would be that. Mentors are crucial. Most of my skill set and vision were forged through mentorships. I try to [provide mentorship] myself. We always have four or five students in the office that we bring in to work on cases, not just law students but undergrads, journalism, social work, etc. I’m proud of how many people have gone on to do incredible social justice work.


AFG: Can you tell us about some of the challenges you’ve faced throughout your career?

LaBelle: I’m a first-generation college graduate. So I didn’t know any lawyers. There were none in my family, and I’d never had been in a courtroom. I wanted to do trial law, and that was unusual for a woman. Most lawyers in the room were white men, and since I do trial law, I’m in front of juries and they have their own ideas of what a lawyer should be. So I have to work harder to create that bond and identity, as opposed to white men who walk into a room and people identify with that because of what they see in TV and movies. I’m sort of grateful for my challenges. I came in with a background and a history that many lawyers don’t have. It informed me and it created more opportunities for me in a way because I understood things. I had a deeper understanding of my clients and how the world works.


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

LaBelle: The work that I did with girls and women in detention, both from the work to get rehabilitative programming and to eliminate custodial abuse. It started in Michigan, but it resulted in a federal law that applies all across the country and eliminates custodial abuse for women, girls, and youth. It was a hard-fought case that went all the way to the Supreme Court. This one resulted in a transformation of the way that women are held in custody all across the country. [I am proud of] the impact of that and seeing the number of people, women, and girls, coming out of the experience being incredibly self-empowered. Their courage transformed them and gave them a sense of citizenship that I think was gone because many of them had been poorly treated by the justice system and had lost hope in it. So seeing that they could engage in it and change it was really inspiring.


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

LaBelle: [It is important to empower girls and young women] because they are the hope for transforming the world for the better. The vision of those who are controlling things from the top down hasn’t worked well. The wealth, the strength, the courage, the breadth of experience, and really the kind of depth of character to get beyond the difficulties, to do what it takes. I want their vision. It has to come from them. That’s who I want to rule.


The 2018 Role Model Dinner will be held on Wednesday, March 28th at Cobo Center. Click here to learn more or to purchase a ticket.

Meet the Role Model: Comerica Bank’s Monica L. Martinez

Feb. 28 2018 | Tags: ,

Meet Monica L. Martinez, our third 2018 Role Model. Monica is Senior Vice President of External Affairs for Comerica Bank, which includes the dual roles of managing the corporate contributions function for the Michigan market as well as overseeing all aspects of the bank’s involvement of Hispanic Business Development nationally. Monica oversees charitable contributions budgets in addition to all corporate philanthropic giving in including day-to-day program management of Comerica’s charitable foundation and sponsorship programs in the state of Michigan. Her responsibilities also include developing and maintaining relationships with key community stakeholders. In the capacity of National Hispanic Business Developer, Monica serves as the liaison for the bank within the Hispanic community, directing Comerica’s Hispanic business and community outreach in the bank’s primary markets, which are comprised of Texas, Arizona, California, Florida and Michigan. She is being recognized for her outstanding professional accomplishments and service to the community at this year’s Role Model Dinner.

Here are some clips from her recent conversation with AFG. 


Alternatives For Girls (AFG): Which of your accomplishments are you the most proud of?

Monica L. Martinez: The accomplishment that I’m most proud of is my commitment to mentoring young women. I mentor eight girls, basically working with them and meeting them where they are at in their lives. It creates an unlimited amount of proud moments. I’ve seen them graduate college, in their pivotal highest moments, and I’ve seen them in their times of need. If by sharing a story or my life experience shortens their learning curve and helps them reach their goals faster, I’m happy to do that and it makes me feel like I’ve done some good.


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?

Martinez: I started out with humble beginnings. I was born in southwest Detroit and didn’t have a whole lot. But I had a loving family who always told me that where we start out in life does not define where we’ll end up. When people believe in you, it changes how you feel and when you feel positive about who you can be and aspire to be, it can change your story. It can be something that changes your destiny.


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?

Martinez: My mother and grandmother in my formative years. Then in certain situations, I’ve had other people who have provided guidance. Some of them helped because I was reaching out and asking for it. And in some cases, there may have been someone who was kind and recognized that I may have needed help and was there for me. Maybe we don’t recognize it, but someone older than us sees something in us and lends a hand and you don’t even know it. Sometimes in our careers, those people act as a guardian angels who tell others about your abilities or potential and because of that an opportunity or a door opens. We don’t succeed without the help of others, we don’t succeed alone. I truly attribute my success to people who have come along my path or journey and have been observant of my enthusiasm to succeed and who have encouraged me along the way. That’s why I turn around and do it for others.

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

Martinez: Where we start out in life does not define where we end up, and when people believe in you it changes how you feel about what you think you can accomplish. It changes your destiny. It is important to know that even If you have humble beginnings, that isn’t going to define you. Having people who care about you, like AFG, is life changing.


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

Martinez: Empowering girls and young women is important so that we don’t put limitations on their dreams or what they can accomplish. It builds strong self-esteem and creates positive future leaders.


The 2018 Role Model Dinner will be held on Wednesday, March 28th at Cobo Center. Click here to learn more or to purchase a ticket.


Meet the Role Model: General Motor’s Alicia Boler Davis will receive the Role Model Award in March

Feb. 2 2018 | Tags: ,

Meet Alicia Boler Davis, one of our 2018 Role Models. Ms. Boler Davis is the Executive Vice President of Global Manufacturing at General Motors (GM) and has been with the company since 1994. Throughout her time at GM, she has held many other roles and was the first African-American woman to be a plant manager at a GM vehicle manufacturing plant. Ms. Boler Davis has a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Northwestern University, a master’s degree in engineering science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an MBA from Indiana 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?

Alicia Boler Davis: Yes, I’ve been fortunate. I had my parents who were very instrumental to me as I was growing up. My older sister, who was a straight-A student, everyone loved her, set the bar really high for me because I wanted to be like her. I wanted to get good grades, that was important to me. Bill Boggs was a mentor to me. He was a plant manager and I had a goal to become a plant manager. He taught me a lot and helped me along the way; making career choices, how to handle certain decisions that came up and helped me work through assignments. He pushed me to [become a plant manager]. He was instrumental to me, not only as a mentor but as someone who supported me in my career.


AFG: Can you tell us about some of the challenges you’ve faced throughout your career?

Boler Davis: I’d say, even starting from when I decided to study engineering in college, it was a challenging curriculum, there weren’t a lot of females and African Americans in my classes. I had to build my confidence to believe I had what it takes to succeed. I also had to learn to build relationships with people that seemed different on the surface, although we really wanted the same things. I learned to work with diversity. Having the belief and tenacity to not give up, even when things are tough, which is something I’ve had through my childhood, college, and my career. I choose to take jobs that are challenging because I think I’m at my best when I’m at challenged. Working at GM and choosing to work in manufacturing, those are challenges I’ve turned into opportunities.


AFG: Who are your role models? 

Boler Davis: Our CEO Mary Barra, she has been a role model to me, inside of the company. We had a lady who retired from GM, Barbara Mahone. She was an African American executive in the company and was somebody that I could look up to and learn from.


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

Boler Davis: Being a mother, that’s the thing that I’m most proud of. And being able to, with my husband, raise my two sons to be responsible young men, to follow their passion, to help others, and to just be positive people. I’m very proud of my sons.

I’m proud of my career, but I don’t know if I could pick just one thing. I’m very proud to, not only have a bachelor’s degree but to have achieved two masters’ degrees while working, in engineering and business. I’m proud that I’ve been able to do that while working and also use my education to make an impact at GM. And the positive impact I’ve been able to make with the women at GM, providing resources and leadership support so we can continue to support the women at GM.

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

Boler Davis: I would tell them to look beyond their circumstances and to dream big. To believe in themselves and that even when things get tough it doesn’t mean that they can’t [do something] it just means that they have to find a way to overcome. They may have setbacks but the setbacks don’t have to stop them from achieving their goals or becoming the person they want to become. They should continue to pursue that with passion. It’s their life, they shouldn’t let anyone tell them that they can’t believe in themselves or believe in their goals.


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

Boler Davis: Girls are a big part of our world. They have skills and capabilities that can make our world a better place. If we empower girls it can help everyone because they can make a difference in a big way. Breaking down the roadblocks that are in the way of girls achieving their potential is all of our jobs. Here and around the world, we have to make sure that girls are able to contribute.


The 2018 Role Model Dinner will be held on Wednesday, March 28th at Cobo Center. Click here to learn more or to purchase a ticket.

Avalon International Breads supports Alternatives For Girls through the Share The Love Campaign

Feb. 1 2018 | Tags: ,

During the month of February, you can support Alternatives For Girls (AFG) when you shop at Avalon International Breads!

  1. During the entire month, when you purchase a box of Avalon’s Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies, a portion of proceeds will be donated to AFG.
  2. Make an online contribution to AFG of $25 or higher during the month of February, and receive a free loaf of bread at any Avalon location, by showing your donation receipt.
  3. On Valentine’s Day, February 14th, a portion of all sales at each Avalon location will be donated to AFG.

Alternatives For Girls would like to thank Avalon and everyone who makes a purchase to support AFG in the month of February!