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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.

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!

AFG Hires 20 Young Women Through Grow Detroit’s Young Talent Program

Jul. 27 2018 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

This summer, Alternatives For Girls (AFG) has hired 20 young women to work as Rise N’ Shine Youth Leaders as well as Peer Educators through Grow Detroit’s Young Talent (GDYT) program! GDYT is a city-wide summer job and training program that employs young adults between the ages of 14 and 24 for six weeks each summer. This summer, GDYT has matched over 8,000 young adults from Detroit with jobs all over the city!

The young women employed at AFG participate in weekly trainings, both with AFG and with the GDYT program, on topics such as conflict resolution, financial literacy and more. These topics help prepare them for issues they may face on the job, while also helping to improve and increase valuable employability skills, such as time management. “I’m pretty organized, but learning about time management has helped me with getting up and getting to work on time. I’ve learned I have to think about whether there will be traffic and if I should leave early that day,” shares Casey, 16, one of the young women working as a Peer Educator in AFG’s Outreach Department this summer.

Mikaela, also 16, is one of the young women from the GDYT program who is a Rise N’ Shine Youth Leader. Youth Leaders assist AFG staff in running the Prevention Department’s annual Rise N’ Shine summer camp. The camp, for girls between the ages of 4-14 living in Southwest Detroit, is designed to allow the participants to learn new skills, improve their literacy, and make new friends, all in a fun and safe environment.

This is Mikaela’s third summer as a Youth Leader, “I like to work with kids, so when I first heard about the job it sounded fun,” she says. A typical day for the Youth Leaders starts at 8am with breakfast. Working with AFG staff, the Youth Leaders help prepare and serve breakfast, check each camper in as they arrive, and then get the girls ready for their first workshop of the day.  Some of the workshops this year include dancing, STEAM, and gardening.  After guiding the participants to their workshops, the Youth Leaders provide support to each workshop facilitator by taking participants to the bathroom, running errands, and making sure each girl is fully participating and having fun. “One of the new skills that I’ve learned working with the girls this summer is that you have to be very patient. If they are upset, if you listen to them, it helps calm them down,” Mikaela says.

Last year when Casey was in the GDYT program, she was also a Rise N’ Shine Youth Leader. But this summer, she is working as a Peer Educator, “I really like it!” Casey shares. As a Peer Educator, Casey helps conduct Street Outreach with AFG staff and facilitates workshops to other young women on topics that affect them. For example, this month, they created and facilitated a workshop on child safety for the mothers in AFG’s shelter. During Street Outreach, Casey and the other Peer Educators visit local parks and recreation centers to reach out to girls and women who might need help or someone to talk to. “We tell them about what AFG does and share hotlines or resources if they need it,” Casey says.

Of course, as with any job, the young women have faced challenges as well. “One of the hardest parts of my job has been working with new people and learning how to work well with them,” Mikaela says. But despite these learning experiences, each young woman has made many memories, “We helped with a workshop for younger girls about bullying, and I noticed a couple of the girls were having a hard time understanding. I went over and helped them understand how you can prevent bullying and step in to help someone. It was great,” Casey smiles.

Alternatives For Girls would like to thank Grow Detroit’s Young Talent program for providing funding for this summer’s Rise N’ Shine Youth Leaders and Peer Educators!

The High School Graduate with a 10-Year Plan

Jun. 29 2018 | Tags: , , ,
This month, high school seniors everywhere were counting the days until their graduation day. Graduating from high school is an important milestone for every young adult, but for some, the path to graduating is filled with obstacles, like homelessness or violence in their communities. Despite these challenges, with your support the young women at AFG get the help and resources they need to walk across the stage with their peers. For the 18th year in a row, 100% of the high school seniors in AFG’s Prevention Program did just that.


Eboni is one of these graduating seniors. She is just 18 years old but already has a 10-year plan. “I plan to study cosmetology so that I can get a job that will help me to earn money to pay for college. First, I will got to a local community college to study my prerequisites. Then, I plan to transfer to a university to study Psychology, get my master’s and doctorate. Finally, I will open my own private practice,” Eboni recites. She’s committed these goals to memory. A step by step plan for her future.


Bumps in the Road

Her road for the future didn’t always seem so clear. “There was a time in 10th grade when I wanted to drop out. Things were bad, and I felt like giving up,” Eboni recalls. A dedicated teacher convinced Eboni to stay in school, but her struggles did not end there. “My senior year was harder than I thought it would be. I picked up two jobs and it was overwhelming at times.”


“I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t found AFG.”

Eboni started coming to AFG’s After-School Program during her junior year. “I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t found AFG,” Eboni shares. “AFG has helped me on so many levels. From helping me improve my confidence, to helping my family when we needed extra support. AFG has been one of my biggest support systems these past two years.”


Looking Forward to the Future

Thanks to your support, Eboni is now a high school graduate with big plans for her future. Although she is looking forward to the next chapter, there are some parts of her high school experience that she will miss. “The thing I will miss most about high school is being around a group of people who have so much ambition,” Eboni says of her fellow classmates. “We’ve watched each other grow into who we are today.”

Although she will miss some aspects of high school, Eboni is looking forward to a lot, especially having a flexible schedule. “I am looking forward to having control over how I spend my day and organizing it how I want it to be instead of having to be in school for eight hours a day,” she shares.


You Help Girls & Young Women, Every Day

Year after year, girls like Eboni come to AFG, and get the support they need to stay focused on their education, graduate high school, and make plans for the future. AFG has added the “Asset Building Program for Education and Opportunity” focusing on middle school girls that provides, not just the opportunity to open a college savings account, but also access to additional specific supports, such as mentoring, in order to help prepare them for post-high school education academically, financially, and socially.  Your support makes this possible. Thank you for believing in the futures of girls and young women.

The Soul of Alternatives For Girls: Thanks to a grant and the help of local artists, the after-school program creates new mural to reflect the soul of AFG

May. 31 2018 | Tags: , ,

Photo taken by: Julianne Lindsey

This month, the girls in AFG’s After-School Program completed a new mural inside of AFG’s building with the help of local artists, Julianne Lindsey and Elton Monroy Duran. The mural was made possible by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Corpus Art Inc., Culture Source, and the NEA.

Over the course of a few months, Julianne and Elton worked with the girls to come up with an idea for the mural. During the process, the group visited other nearby murals, like the one at E&L Supermercado in southwest Detroit, to gather inspiration.

“We came up with the idea as a group, and we wanted to include the different cultures of girls all over the world,” shared Ahtziri, one of the young women who worked on the project. The mural is meant to represent the soul of AFG. The mural shows that at AFG, girls and young women learn and grow, and AFG helps to support them as they continue their journey in the world, sharing their dreams, culture, and experiences everywhere they go. Just as a dandelion spreads its seeds in the wind.

“Creating the idea for the mural was my favorite part of the project,” shares Jenny, another young woman who helped with the mural. “I liked how all of the different backgrounds we wanted to include were made into one.”

Once they settled on their idea, Julianne and Elton worked to put the girls’ vision to life, helping them choose a background, a color scheme, and outlines for the images. After Elton completed the majority of the mural’s background, the girls helped complete the mural by painting small images of girls floating down to earth. Each image was inspired by the culture, experiences, and role models of the girls who worked on the project. “My favorite part of the project was painting the mural,” Ahtziri recalls. “I liked being able to express my culture in the girl that I painted.”

Alternatives For Girls would like to thank Julianne Lindsey, Elton Monroy Duran, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Corpus Art Inc., Culture Source, and the NEA for this wonderful opportunity!

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.

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!

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!

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.