Events Archives - Page 2 of 3 - Alternatives For Girls

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

Dec. 22 2017 | 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 adopted 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 had learned this year. One former New Choices graduate, a program for women exiting sex work, recalled how she first heard about the New Choices program from an AFG Street Outreach volunteer. Once she joined the program, she was able to get her ID card and find a job as a cook, which is one of her favorite things to do. Another gradate shared, “AFG helped me love myself. It took a long time for me to learn to love me.”

The 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 a DJ and a photo booth! Later in the evening, the children had the chance to meet Santa Claus and the young women listened to a performance from a local comedian. All of these awesome services were provided by volunteers!

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!

Alternatives For Girls Named Crain’s Detroit 2017 Best Managed Nonprofit

Dec. 4 2017 | Tags: ,

We are honored to announce that today, Alternatives For Girls was named the “Crain’s Detroit 2017 Best Managed Nonprofit”.

Generous support from our donors and volunteers makes a difference for homeless and high-risk girls and young women every day, and we are committed to continuing to manage these donations for the greatest possible impact.

This award process included a written application, a financial review completed by Plante Moran, and an in-person interview with a panel of judges. You can read the Crain’s announcement here.

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!

Goodbye for Now: Rise N’ Shine finale marks end of 6 weeks of fun, learning, and so much more

Aug. 31 2017 | Tags: , , , , ,

On August 18th, 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.

A Place to Learn

When we asked Melanie, a first time camper, what her favorite thing about Rise N’ Shine was, she had a hard time narrowing it down. “Everything! The people, the food, the activities. Everything was great!” For Mia, a second-time camper, the workshops were the high point of the summer, “I loved the nutrition workshop. We did a lot of cooking and learned about a lot of foods. We even made our own butter!” Other favorite workshops included gardening and STEM with Madonna University. “We learned a lot about science, like how caterpillars turn into butterflies,” Melanie exclaimed.

There was a lot of learning going on outside of the workshops, as well. “I learned that it’s good to be with strangers because you can get to know them and become good friends. That’s what I did this summer, and I learned a lot about different cultures!” shared Melanie. Mia agreed, “I learned about teamwork and how to make friends.”

Time to Celebrate

The 60 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 kicked off with a performance from the 7-9-year-old group. Throughout the summer, they completed a workshop with Matrix Theatre Company and wrote their own original play! Their hard work and practice paid off once they were able to perform their masterpiece for friends and family. Judging by the laughter and applause, the audience thoroughly enjoyed their creativity and performance!

That wasn’t the only original play of the day, the 9-10 year group and the 10-11-year-old group also performed plays that they wrote with Matrix Theatre Company. The latter group performed a play titled “Pollution”, an inspiring tale of magical mermaids who helped save the earth from pollution. In addition to the plays, the Revamp workshop modeled the clothing they designed from recycled materials and fabrics and the Dance workshop performed an original dance number.

Goodbye for Now

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, Mia looked around the room and reflected on her summer at AFG, “I will always remember my friends. I’m going to miss coming here every day!” Serissa, a third-time camper, agreed and added, “Rise N’ Shine is a good place to be!”

Meet the Role Model: Carol Goss is receiving the Community Award at the 2017 Role Model Dinner

Feb. 27 2017 | Tags: ,

Meet Carol Goss, our second 2017 Role Model. Ms. Goss is the former President and CEO of The Skillman Foundation and will be receiving the Community Award, in honor of her lifetime commitment to helping those in her community, at this year’s Role Model Dinner. 

Here are some clips from her recent conversation with AFG.


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

Carol Goss: I’m from Detroit, I grew up on the west side, and I had two parents who worked very hard at their jobs. They had not gone to college, but they wanted that for their children. And they always made their children realize how important education was and how important it was to get a college degree so that they could have a better life. I think that because my parents and my neighbors, they all encouraged me, I feel that it’s part of my responsibility to give back. I’ve been successful in my own life and in my own career and I think you have to bring others along with you, you have to reach back and make sure others are doing well. I just think it’s important to do it.


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

Goss: Well yes! I grew up in the 50s and the 60s and the communities that we grew up in were pretty insular because our parents were worried about racism. And our parents were pretty protective of us. They wanted us to be successful in our careers. So we had to find adults that could be supportive of us and help us make the right decision. There was one family, a family that I’d been babysitting for, and this family really saw something in me. They were African American and the mother in the family just really encouraged me. I remember in high school she took me to Wayne State so I could see programs and what opportunities and options could be open to me. I didn’t end up going to Wayne State, but I did see myself in the future because she introduced me to different experiences which were really wonderful. She was a really wonderful woman.

Another person who was so encouraging, was my mother. She was determined that we were going to be successful and that there was nothing that we couldn’t do. She was supportive and helpful. I was hesitant going away to college [to the University of Michigan- Ann Arbor]. Which doesn’t seem like it was very far, but growing up in Detroit, going away and living on campus, I remember being hesitant about that. And my mother kept saying this is something that you can do. And whenever I was unhappy, being in Ann Arbor in 1955 where there were very few black students on campus, it was an amazingly challenging experience, my mother was very supportive. We had teachers, professors, counselors, who didn’t believe in us, who didn’t believe we should be there or could do the work. You have to have a support system to be able to get through it. Those people were the two people who really supported me and helped me become who I am today.



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

Goss: It’s a real passion of mine. I think that in our society and culture, women and girls haven’t always had the resources and opportunities that men have had, particularly women and girls of color. I think that we have to support their confidence, their development, and their realization that they can do whatever they want. They can be whatever they want to be. The young woman that I mentor now, who has been homeless, she’s 23 with 3 young children, she got her high school diploma, she now has a job and is working on permanent housing. It’s really easy to become discouraged. I just keep saying to her you can do this. You can accomplish your goals and objectives. I think it’s important that we have the right things in place that help women and girls reach their potential. They have so much potential, so much to contribute to our society and to our world. It’s one of the most important things we can do is to make sure women and girls are included and that they feel empowered and that they feel like they have the capacity to accomplish all of their goals.

Meet the Role Model: Dr. Rosemary Sarri is receiving the Champion Award at the 2017 Role Model Dinner

Feb. 27 2017 | Tags: ,

Meet Dr. Rosemary Sarri, our third 2017 Role Model. Dr. Sarri is Professor Emerita of Social Work at the University of Michigan and will be receiving the Champion Award, in honor of her steadfast support of AFG’s mission, at this year’s Role Model Dinner. 

Here are some clips from her recent conversation with AFG.


Alternatives For Girls: You’ve been involved with AFG since its conception. When and how did you become involved?

Dr. Rosemary Sarri: I became involved largely through Amy Good (AFG CEO), who was a student of mine. I was doing some work with some agencies in the community at the time, while I was teaching and doing work at U of M. [Amy] contacted me about starting a shelter for girls and young women and the needs of high risk girls at the time. So I agreed to help. We did some work before the agency was formally established and that took placed at the church on the corner of Trumbull and Michigan Avenue. I helped in various ways once we got things started, we did some studies of girls in the programs and provided that to AFG so we could improve the programs.

One of my primary areas of interest was juvenile justice and I helped Alternatives get some programs started in that area. We had a program at Alternatives, a mentoring program for children whose parents were involved in the justice system and programs for young women who got involved in the juvenile justice system. I was particularly interested in high–risk youth involved in the justice system.

So, I played a lot of roles and they were more related to my professional competence, like evaluating services for high-risk youth and the impact on their families. I was also a board member for twenty years.


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?

Dr. Sarri: I’ve been a professional social worker and a teacher for most of my life. And before that, I was practitioner and when I learned about the needs of youth and families, I had the desire to help them in any way they could. Particularly helping them get an education.


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

Dr. Sarri: Oh, gobs of people! Hundreds of people have provided wonderful guidance to me over the years, from the time I was in grade school. Especially my parents. My mom was a strong pusher that all of her children would get an education and achieve. It was critical for that to occur in my entire family.

I’ve had wonderful teachers and guidance people. I had so many teachers who were critical in helping me get started and get me through the steps I needed to go through. I happened to be the oldest in my family so I had to do it first. Besides my own mother, I can’t think of anyone but the teachers that I had that really made a difference to me.


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

Dr. Sarri: I suppose a big challenge was being able to successfully complete my education because I came from a relatively poor, rural background. So getting a PhD meant a great deal of sacrifice and hard work on my part. There was a lot of resistance against women getting a doctorate, it was a big battle. I kind of enjoy the battle, that’s the way it is. I’ve fought all my life, I’ve had to really be willing to take on things and take on challenges and I’ve been willing to do that. There was a lot of discrimination against women in professional careers, particularly if you were married. There were a lot of serious obstacles. I’m 90 years old, so I’ve gone through a lot of this.


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

Dr. Sarri: Be active in community affairs in whatever way incorporates your particular talents and interests. Be active in trying to advance the status of other women and girls!

December Volunteer Spotlight: Mahima Mahadevan

Dec. 20 2016 | Tags: , ,

Each month, Alternatives For Girls’ Volunteer Department, highlights one volunteer who AFG staff recognize as being a dedicated and passionate volunteer. This month we spotlight Mahima Mahadevan, a former AFG employee, and committed special events volunteer.

Mahima is a former Alternatives For Girls employee who worked in the Development Department from 2006-2008. Since then, Mahima has remained connected with AFG by volunteering at events such as the Role Model Dinner and the Holiday High Tea.

Mahima was able to learn about AFG’s various programs first hand while she was an employee. Recognizing the importance of the services and support AFG provides, Mahima wanted to remain connected with Alternatives For Girls and continue to give back to the organization. Mahima describes the special spot AFG holds in her heart and the personal growth she has made over the years as a volunteer. She says she has gained friendships, understanding, education, and compassion.

Mahima remains committed because of how AFG treats everyone who comes through the doors whether it’s a volunteer, staff, or participant. “I enjoy being part of a team where everyone’s time, energy, and contributions are valued,” she describes. Furthermore, Mahima continues to have a positive impact at AFG through her openness, kindheartedness, and sincerity.

Thank you, Mahima, for being an ongoing AFG supporter!

Interested in volunteering? Please contact Jenny Clement, Volunteer Services Manager, at 313-361-4000 x248 or to discuss the next steps to becoming a volunteer at Alternatives For Girls!

Trick-Or-Treat: The Prevention Department hosts festive Halloween party at Alternatives For Girls

Nov. 1 2016 | Tags: , , ,

On October 27th Alternatives For Girls’ halls were filled with ghouls and goblins for the Prevention Department’s annual Halloween party! The halls were decorated with spider webs, pumpkins, and ghosts and classic Halloween tunes were played to set the mood.  The after-school program’s high school group helped decorate and even created a haunted house!

The exciting evening included face painting, mask decorating, trick-or-treating throughout AFG, a haunted house, a mummy wrapping contest, and more!

The trick-or-treat trail was full of surprises. Throughout the trek, the trick-or-treaters walked through spooky halls, climbed under spider webs, and braved the haunted house! At the end, there were some fun games to get extra treats. One of those games was a punch board, created by the high school group, where the girls had to punch through the paper to get a surprise toy or candy!

The girls munched on spooky cupcakes and marshmallow eyeballs and counted how many pieces of their favorite candy they got. At the end of the night, all of the girls left with smiles on their faces, recounting the nights’ fun.

Alternatives For Girls would like to thank everyone who donated candy, toys, and snacks for the trick-or-treaters. Happy Halloween!

Rise N’ Shine End of Summer Finale: 50 girls show their friends and family what they’ve learned at AFG this summer

Sep. 1 2016 | Tags: , , , , ,

In August, the Alternatives For Girls Rise N’ Shine summer camp came to an end. The 50 campers celebrated their memorable summer with a fun end of summer finale. 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. This summer, workshops included: gardening, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math), swimming, cooking, and more.

Reading and Gardening and Swimming, Oh My!

When asked what she enjoyed most at Rise N’ Shine this summer, 5-year-old Kimora’s answer was pretty broad as she giggled, “EVERYTHING!” Some of the campers were a bit more specific about the fun they had. When we asked 7-year-old Kai about her favorite Rise N’ Shine activity her eyes lit up as she smiled and replied, “Swimming class at the YMCA! I got to jump into the pool.” Many campers also liked S.T.E.A.M. class. When asked what she liked best about it, one camper answered, “I like that we could use our imaginations to create things.” Yareli, 8, was happy to share her favorite things about Rise N’ Shine, “I loved the field trips and meeting new friends!”

Youth Leaders help girls Rise N’ Shine

The campers all agreed that their youth leaders were an important part of the camp and helped to make it fun. Zahraa, a 15-year-old youth leader, enjoyed her summer with the girls from Rise N’ Shine. When recalling some of her favorite moments, she said, “I enjoyed spending time with the girls. I really liked it when we went to Carhartt to sell bath bombs [as part of an entrepreneur workshop hosted by the Carhartt Emerging Leadership Team]. The girls were really happy because they made a lot of money in sales.” Zahraa was one of 12 youth leaders from the Grow Detroit Young Talent Program. Juanita, 18, was another youth leader. She said that being around the girls this summer made her realize that working with children is her passion, “This is what I want to do,” she smiled.

Celebrating a summer well spent

The Rise N’ Shine Finale wraps up the fun of summer and allows the campers’ families to see what they have been busy with while at AFG. The finale kicked off with a performance from the 9 – 11 year old group. Throughout the summer, they completed a workshop with Matrix Community Theater and the girls wrote and produced an 8-page play! Their hard work and practice paid off once they were able to perform their masterpiece for friends and family. Judging by the laughter and applause, the audience thoroughly enjoyed their creativity and performance!

Next, the girls in the 7 – 8 year old group took the stage to read the stories that they wrote this summer while in their Literacy Exploration Workshop. The reading and writing activities were popular with the campers. Kai noted writing as a favorite activity, “I liked writing in my gardening journal. We wrote about gardening stuff like flowers.”

The audience then enjoyed poetry with a theme, “Inner Strength” from the 12 – 14 year old group, also a product of their Literacy Exploration Workshop. Each of the girls took to the mic to read poetry to the audience, some choosing to recite in both English and Spanish.

Then the 7 – 9 year old group entertained the audience with a lip sync battle! Two teams, the pink team and the black team, danced and lip synced along with their youth leaders. The winners were determined by applause and, though it was a close call, the pink team came out on top!

Goodbye for now…

After some special acknowledgements and awards, the youth leaders got together to put on a lively dance performance to Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls)”. The campers loved it! 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. All of the campers seemed to agree on what they will miss most now that Rise N’ Shine is over for another year; their new friends! 8-year-old Yareli thought for a moment, then motioned toward the two little girls sitting with her and said, “I’m going to miss my best friend and my other best friend.”

When asked what she would miss the most when Rise N’ Shine ended, 5-year-old Kimora’s answer was the same as when we asked her what she enjoyed most. She once again giggled, “EVERYTHING!”