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LIVE CHAT

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!

Alternatives For Girls statement on impact of Charlottesville on our participants, and human services sector response

Aug. 17 2017 | Tags:

We at Alternatives For Girls are, of course, horrified by the events in Charlottesville. We reject and condemn white supremacy and all forms of bigotry and racial injustice. We believe that the human services sector has an important role to play in eliminating inequality and promoting democracy.

Today, we renew our long-term commitment to help create and strengthen opportunities for the voices of homeless and high-risk girls and young women to be heard and respected at all levels, including within their personal lives, the metro Detroit community, and beyond. By using the platforms we endeavor to provide, we hope and believe that the women and girls we serve will positively influence public and social policy, such that equal opportunity becomes available to all.

Alternatives For Girls acknowledges the local and personal impact recent national events have had on our participants, and in particular, our youth. Thus, we are committed to provide opportunities and support for those girls and young women who choose to engage in community reflection and action, and lift their voices in response to the atrocities that took place in Charlottesville this past weekend.   Our participants are uniquely positioned to provide context and add to the conversations that we must have in this country about race relations, bigotry and the importance of equality, given that most of them have lived with economic instability, and endured—and are overcoming—severe life challenges that most people will never experience or completely appreciate.

At this critical moment in our nation’s history, Alternatives For Girls wants to ensure that girls and young women embrace the challenges and opportunities before them so they can help raise awareness, think critically and independently, and continue their growth toward becoming active and engaged citizens, using their voices and growing their leadership skills. It is only with unity that we can overcome the fear and dangers generated by the rhetoric and actions of racist groups. We are confident that AFG’s participants will contribute toward this vital goal.

Finally, we recognize that many in our AFG family, including our staff, participants, donors, and volunteers, are grieving, speaking out, and standing up to hatred. We are honored to stand together with you!

Best Expression of Ourselves: Alternatives For Girls celebrates its 30th anniversary at annual Role Model Dinner

Mar. 30 2017 | Tags: , , ,

On March 23, Alternatives For Girls held the annual Role Model Dinner at Cobo Center. The event raised over $300,000 to support our critical work!

The evening was full of fun, inspiration, and hope, as AFG celebrated its 30th anniversary of serving girls and young women! 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 Don Manvel and Barbara Whittaker, 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, Best Expression of Ourselves. 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 2017 Role Models shared their stories. Many shared empowering messages, like this statement from former President & CEO of The Skillman Foundation and Role Model Awardee, Carol Goss, “My life’s focus as a professional and a volunteer has been to help the most, vulnerable families and children to find a better life, jobs that pay a livable wage, quality education for their children and access to health care and adequate healthy food and housing. A life free from conflict and violence and hope for the future.  It is my hope that that those of us who have been blessed with resources and role models in our lives will find a way to pay this forward to a young woman that needs it.”

We would like to thank our dinner co-chairs, Don Manvel and Barbara Whittaker, 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 esteemed auctioneer, and all of the dedicated volunteers who helped make the event possible. Thank you to all of the young women from our programs; Tamia, Karen, Treasure, Shanyelle, and Sheria, who shared their stories and showed us the courage and determination it takes to become the best expression of ourselves.

AFG also gratefully thanks this year’s Role Model Dinner Presenting Sponsor, DTE Energy Foundation, as well as the following dinner sponsors: AVL, Ford Motor Company Fund, Madison Heights Glass, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, The Suburban Collection, UAW-General Motors Center for Human Resources, Brooks Kushman, Flagstar Bank, Ideal Group, Jim and Ann Nicholson, UAW-Ford, Argent International, BW Limited, Carole Ilitch, Comerica Bank, Corporate F.A.C.T.S., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Home Depot, Karmanos Cancer Institute, Marathon Petroleum Company, Metro West Chapter of Credit Unions, MGM Grand Detroit, Plante Moran, The Skillman Foundation, St. John Providence, Trinity Health, Willis Towers Watson, Kerr-Russell, George Johnson & Company, Melissa Jamal, Union Ad Works, and Special D Events.

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, as well as everyone who has supported Alternatives For Girls over the last 30 years. Thank you!

ARTIFACTRY Partners with AFG’s Sew Great Detroit: The Corktown boutique is now selling market tote bags handmade by women in AFG’s program

Nov. 1 2016 | Tags: , , , ,

One of the exciting things about AFG’s location in southwest Detroit is its entrepreneurial energy.  So many new businesses in the area are contributing creativity and opportunity to the neighborhood that AFG calls home.  Gail Kwiatkowski, the owner of ARTIFACTRY located in Corktown, is an example of someone who is contributing to the neighborhood buzz!  Gail describes ARTIFACTRY as an eclectic collection of new and vintage gifts, including industrial style furniture.

Gail was eager to be an Alternatives For Girls supporter when she learned about the women of Sew Great Detroit, AFG’s weekly commercial sewing employment training program, headed by volunteers and support staff.  Sew Great Detroit’s classes focus on teaching women valuable sewing skills, like machine sewing and hand finishing techniques, understanding the characteristics of fabric, fabric cutting techniques, and beginning design concepts. The women receive a stipend during their training, which is supported through contracted projects. Finally, the members of Sew Great Detroit also create life goals, for which they receive coaching from the team of volunteers.

Gail loved the excellent quality of the sewing demonstrated in Sew Great Detroit’s canvas market style tote bags so much, that she decided to contract them to make some for her store!  She purchased the bags and silk screened them with an original Corktown graphic designed by her son James.  Thanks to Gail, the Sew Great Detroit market style tote bags are now available to purchase at ARTIFACTRY!

The training stipends the women in Sew Great Detroit receive make an impact for them and their families. They are so excited for the opportunity to sell their handmade goods at ARTIFACTRY! Stop by ARTIFACTRY now and pick up an original Sew Great Detroit made tote bag. They would make a great gift this holiday season!

Thank you to Gail Kwiatkowski and ARTIFACTRY for supporting the Sew Great Detroit training program and Alternatives For Girls!

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!”

2015 Role Model Dinner Raises Critical Funds

Apr. 30 2015 | Tags: , ,

On March 26, Alternatives For Girls held our 26th annual Role Model Dinner at The Fillmore Detroit. The event raised over $256,000 to support our critical work!
The evening was full of fun and inspiration. After an hour of mingling and a silent auction, the program kicked off with a live auction. Cheryl Chodun, former Channel 7 news reporter, emceed the event. The dinner, co-chaired this year by Myra Moreland and Carole Ilitch, 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, Making Key Choices. The evening closed with the thrilling “Fund the Mission,” led by auctioneer Chris Aslanian, during which event guests pledged monetary support to AFG.
In between was a time of reflection and inspiration as the young women of AFG and the 2015 Role Models shared their stories. Many shared pieces of wisdom, like this statement from former AFG shelter resident and Emerging Leader Role Model Awardee Krista McClure, “We can all look back to where we came from, but to me it’s more important to look forward to where we are going.”

We would like to thank our dinner co-chairs, Myra Moreland and Carole Ilitch, who helped make the event such an incredible success! We would also like to thank Cheryl Chodun, our fantastic emcee, Chris Aslanian, our esteemed auctioneer, and all of the volunteers who helped make the event possible. Thank you to all of the young women from our programs; Tiana, April, Fatima, Janiqua, Tamara, and Tatianna, who shared their stories and showed us the courage and determination it takes to make key choices.
AFG also gratefully thanks this year’s Role Model Dinner sponsors: AVL, General Motors, PVS Chemicals, Suburban Collection, Angstrom Automotive, Health Alliance Plan/Henry Ford Health System, Lear Corporation, Piston Group, Argent International, Comerica Bank, Corporate F.A.C.T.S., Dakkota Integrated Systems, Detroit Tigers, Larry and Connie Hudas, Karmanos Cancer Institute, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, Towers Watson, Trinity Health, UAW-Ford National Programs Center, John and Ann Cameron, George Johnson & Company, Huntington Bank, Michigan First Credit Union, Northwood University, Hour Detroit, and Union AdWorks for donating design services. We would also like to thank both the General Motors Foundation and the Ford Fund for their generous support of the girls and women we serve.
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!