Outreach Archives - Alternatives For Girls

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“I did it!”: AFG’s high school graduates share their struggles and triumphs

Jun. 3 2019 | Tags: , , ,

This spring, young women from AFG’s programs are graduating high school! Because of your support, they each received the help they needed to stay focused on their education, earn their diploma, and make plans for the future. Below are a couple of stories from this year’s high school graduates.

Ready for the Future

Meet Yasmine. Yasmine is 17 years old and has been a participant in AFG’s Peer Education program for two years. “High school was challenging at times,” Yasmine recalls. “During my junior year, I transferred to a different school. I was scared at first because I didn’t know anyone and the classes were harder.”

When she needed help with her homework, Yasmine knew just where to turn. “AFG helped me get tutoring in math when I was struggling,” she shares. This fall, Yasmine will be starting her first year of college, where she plans to study social work!

Now that she’s almost done with high school, Yasmine says she will miss her friends and seeing her favorite teachers every day. She is looking forward to the independence that college will bring her, “I’m looking forward to living on my own,” she smiles.

As a soon to be high school graduate, Yasmine had plenty of advice for her younger peers, “Don’t hang around with negative crowds. Be around people who make you laugh and smile! And do your work!”

A Bright Future

Meet Jamica. Jamica has been a resident in AFG’s shelter since last year. “In the beginning, high school was hard. I didn’t have classes I was interested in and struggled to stay focused,” Jamica explains. “My senior year was even harder, because I missed a lot of school.”

Since Jamica came to AFG’s shelter, she has received support that has allowed her to catch up on her school work. She was able to get all the credits she needed to graduate this spring! “AFG also helped me pay my senior dues, and they helped provide me with school supplies and clothing,” Jamica recalls.

During high school, Jamica discovered the classes she liked best were the ones that allowed her to work with her hands. Recently, she had the opportunity to go to a trade conference where she learned about different trades and career paths she could follow. “I really enjoyed learning about tiling!” Jamica exclaims. Jamica had a lot of advice for her younger peers, “Stay on top of your work! And make sure you work before you play. Get into different activities, and don’t work yourself too hard. Have fun!”

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.

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!

November Volunteer Spotlight: Muriel Van Dyke

Nov. 28 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 Muriel Van Dyke, a committed and creative volunteer from AFG’s Outreach Department.

Before volunteering, Muriel worked as a social worker and recognized the importance of programs that provide others an opportunity to learn a new skill and launch them into the workforce. After learning about AFG’s social enterprise program, Sew Great Detroit, she recognized the program’s value in the community and knew it would be a good fit for her to volunteer her time with. Since becoming a volunteer two years ago, Muriel has provided a wealth of knowledge and guidance to AFG’s participants and the growing Sew Great Detroit program.

In Muriel’s kitchen is a sign that says, “Rise by lifting others.” This is a phrase that Muriel lives by and incorporates into her volunteer work. “My goal as a volunteer is to ‘lift up’ the participants in Sew Great Detroit so that they can not only feel good about themselves but also begin to affirm others in their life – especially family members”. In doing this, Muriel hopes that she can inspire participants to have a positive outlook on their future.

Muriel’s greatest strength as a volunteer is her ability to recognize the potential in each and every one of the women that she has worked with. Muriel says, “I try to pass on a ‘can do’ attitude –with women who sometimes haven’t had a sense of worth or self-esteem– that gives them that belief. To see their smiles of satisfaction when they have successfully learned a new skill – and then have the confidence to move on to the next – is priceless.”

As a veteran volunteer, Muriel is continuously inspired by participants and their accomplishments and grateful for the relationships she has formed with the other Sew Great Detroit volunteers.

Thank you, Muriel, for your continued dedication towards AFG’s mission!

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

October Volunteer Spotlight: Erin McLoughin

Nov. 1 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, Erin McLoughin, a volunteer in AFG’s Outreach Department, was nominated because of her dedication to AFG’s mission!

After surviving her own trauma, Erin decided she wanted to give back. She chose AFG because of its mission and involvement with combating human trafficking, an issue close to her heart. Erin became a volunteer at AFG in November of 2015 and since then has been involved in several projects and programs in the Outreach Department. She has been a volunteer in the Resource Center, with the Safe Choices and New Choices programs, and has even facilitated special events and programming! When asked about her greatest strength, Erin mentioned her flexibility, which is an asset to AFG. Erin is willing to step in and take on any situation as it arises, whether it is mundane or stressful.

Erin says she has gained a lot of knowledge through volunteering at Alternatives For Girls and her goal of being a volunteer has transformed since she began. When Erin first started, she primarily wanted to learn and help where needed. Today, Erin aspires to carry out AFG’s mission and take what she has learned to educate others on this issue of human trafficking, which she identifies a key way to stop it from occurring.

As an AFG volunteer and advocate, Erin is a role model to the girls and young women in AFG’s programs because she is strong, goal-centered, and identifies as an alpha-female. Some of the young women have even nicknamed Erin as “G.I. Jane” because of her personality and past military experience!

During her time as a volunteer so far, Erin is very thankful for the girls and young women she’s met, the experience and knowledge she’s gained, and the mentorship she’s received from the Outreach Department staff members. As she continues as a volunteer, Erin wants to encourage girls and young women to move forward and be “not just a survivor, but a thrivor.”

Thank you, Erin, for your on-going commitment to helping girls and young women!

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

Sew Great Detroit’s Unexpected Outcome: One woman passes along her love and skill of sewing to her teenage daughter

Aug. 5 2016 | Tags: , ,

“I love these people,” Yolanda smiles. “I love Sew Great Detroit. Everyone is so nice and always in good spirits. I look forward to going each day.” Yolanda joined Sew Great Detroit (SGD), Alternatives For Girls’ weekly commercial sewing employment training program headed by volunteers and support staff, in March. Yolanda has been in AFG’s New Choices Program since August of 2015 and decided to apply for the SGD program because she likes to try new things and loves arts and crafts.

Learning to Sew

Since she entered the program, Yolanda has learned valuable sewing skills. She has learned machine sewing and hand finishing techniques, the characteristics of fabric, fabric cutting techniques, and design concepts. “My mom started sewing when I was about 8 and she would make curtains. I would look over her shoulder and ask her to show me. She showed me how to thread [the sewing machine]. So, when Ms. Janet showed me how to thread the machine, I thought ‘I remember this’,” Yolanda reflects.

After meeting specific sewing skill and job performance goals, Yolanda earned her own sewing machine. The machine, which was generously donated by an AFG donor, has allowed her to start working on her own sewing projects at home. “I’ve made pillow cases and I want to make an apron! I’m working on getting more professional tools at home so I can make more,” Yolanda shares.

An Unexpected Outcome

Yolanda has also started teaching her daughter how to sew! “I showed her the purses we made and she wanted to learn how to do it,” Yolanda smiles. Now her daughter works on her own projects and Yolanda says her daughter is keeping up with her! “It’s something we do together. Right now, it’s just a hobby for her, but I want to encourage her to show her friends and do more with it,” Yolanda shares.

One day, Yolanda hopes to start a business of her own. “Once I get the hang of it and I can expand it more, I think I could make and sell stuff. It’s fun and relaxing! But I have to push myself to keep going,” she dreams.

Grit, Glam, and Guts: AFG hosts a statewide teen conference aimed at helping young women tackle issues of identity

Jul. 6 2016 | Tags: , ,

On June 11th, Alternatives For Girls hosted the Grit, Glam, and Guts Teen Conference. The conference is for teen girls ages 12-18 and was aimed at tackling social and emotional issues of identity. During the one day event, the young women heard from speakers all over the state, participated in breakout sessions, and much more. The sessions explored healthy relationships, beauty standards, and social pressures.

We sat down with Chelsea and Shani, a couple of the AFG Peer Educators who attended the conference, to hear about their favorite speakers, activities, and how they plan to use what they learned in their everyday life.

Alternatives For Girls: What was your favorite workshop?

Chelsea: My favorite workshop was the one about legacy. The topic of the workshop is what you leave behind when you’re gone. It showed that anyone can do anything, no matter what background they come from.

AFG: What was the most interesting thing you learned throughout the day?

Shani: The most interesting thing I learned was how someone can be so resilient and still be successful after everything they went through. That was from one of the speakers, she gave us a testimony of her life and all of the things she went through.

AFG: What was the most fun activity you did?

Chelsea: Doing the makeup! They showed us how to do our makeup and then they let us do it ourselves.

Shani: The dream boards. Each speaker had different stickers and markers and they had us write down things we liked about each workshop.

AFG: What is something that you learned that you plan to use in your everyday life?

Shani: Legacy isn’t selfish. It means giving back to your community, in more ways than just financially.

Chelsea: Don’t let people get to you or tear you down.

Graduation Stories: AFG’s high school graduates share their struggles and triumphs

May. 4 2016 | Tags: , , , ,

This spring, high school seniors everywhere will be 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, violence in their communities, or even exploitation.

Despite these challenges, young women in AFG’s programs get the help and resources they need to walk across the stage with their peers. We are happy to report that for the 16th year in a row, 100% of the high school seniors in our Prevention Program will be doing just that!

This spring, we will be sharing the stories of the young women at AFG who are graduating and beginning the next chapter in their lives. Below is the first story of a young woman determined to succeed.

A Different Path

Meet Tarra. Tarra is 20 years old, currently a resident in AFG’s Shelter, and will be receiving her high school diploma this June. “I was supposed to graduate in 2014, but I did not. I was influenced by the wrong people and I decided that school was not as important at that time, so I didn’t go. But now I’m ready.”

Tarra has been at AFG’s Shelter for a little over a month, and since then, she has been focusing on finishing her high school classes at a nearby charter school so she can finally receive her diploma. “[AFG] provided me with the motivation to want to get up and go to school every day,” Tarra shares, smiling. “High school has been really fun! It’s motivated me to want to graduate, and to get a job.”

A Bright Future

After she graduates, Tarra plans to attend a local community college and become a nurse. “I might be an RN or a traveling nurse – you get to travel to different cities or states where hospitals need nurses,” she explains. Until then, Tarra can’t wait to receive the diploma she worked so hard for, “[I’m looking forward to] grabbing that diploma, seeing my friends and family, and finally getting it done!” she exclaims.

The Dow Chemical Company Event Provides Vital Support to AFG Programs

Aug. 3 2015 | Tags: , , , ,

On a mild summer day, 100 employees from The Dow Chemical Company and four Alternatives For Girls Peer Educators (PEs) are outside of the H Hotel in Midland Michigan, packing backpacks and hygiene kits and assembling bicycles and picnic tables. A few of the PEs grab a packing list for the backpacks and start looking for the items that belong in the bag. Like a scavenger hunt, they check things off the list, only to look up again and search for the next item. Meanwhile, another PE works with Dow employees to assemble a beautiful, colorful bicycle. “I only did one bike, but it felt kind of intense. It was like a race because everyone was working on the bikes all at once. It was fun!” Deana, one of the AFG PEs who attended the event, remembers.

The event, held on July 15 by The Dow Chemical Company, was called Power to Influence and is a training opportunity for its technicians. “The event provides the technicians an opportunity to receive specialized training that will aid in their own development and set the stage to develop others by leveraging their learnings from the program,” Sarah McManus, Operations Learning and Talent Development Administrator at The Dow Chemical Company, explains. Because The Dow Chemical Company strongly believes in giving back to the community, the event also incorporates a volunteer activity.

For this Power to Influence event, the volunteer activity was assembling donations for Alternatives For Girls. In addition, Dow also invited girls from AFG to attend the event to learn about what they do, help during the volunteer activity, and even stay overnight at the hotel! The Peer Educators who attended were chauffeured to Midland by a private taxi service (courtesy of Dow!) and had a welcome basket when they arrived to their hotel room! “It made me feel really special!” Da’shea, another AFG PE who attended, shared.

During the event, the group put together 10 bicycles, 100 backpacks filled with school supplies, 90 hygiene kits, and 4 picnic tables, in less than an hour! “It was great to see all of the hard work come together. Everyone moved really quickly and wanted to help!” Sarah shared. “The whole experience was fun! It felt like they were really trying to help us out,” Da’shea shared.

The Dow Chemical Company reached out to other companies in the area to support Alternatives For Girls, as well. “Ray’s Bike Shop of Midland gave me a wonderful discount on the Electra bicycles that were assembled. They also sent a store representative to the event to help with the process and answer any questions,” Sarah explained. In addition, Corrigan Moving Systems, a moving company also located in the Midland area, transported all of the items from Midland to Detroit for free!

For Sarah, the highlight of the day was sharing the experience with the PEs. “It was a pleasure to meet the AFG girls. Everyone was glad that the AFG group could join us,” Sarah shared. The PEs who attended had a blast during the event, and after. “My favorite part of the trip was meeting new people and hearing their stories. I learned about someone who was from Texas that was homeless when she was 13,” Danea shared. The girls also enjoyed swimming in the hotel pool afterwards and receiving their own backpack filled with goodies before they drove back to AFG. “It was definitely a great experience. I’m very grateful that I got to experience it,” Danea reflects, smiling from ear to ear.

AFG would like to thank Sarah McManus, The Dow Chemical Company and all of its employees, Ray’s Bike Shop, and Corrigan Moving Systems for their generous support of the girls and women we serve!

Face Forward Resource Fair Provides Access to Valuable Services for Youth

Apr. 30 2015 | Tags: , , , ,

One of AFG’s newest programs, Face Forward, held its first resource fair for youth on March 30 at the Patton Recreation center. The fair, aptly named “March Madness”, was put together to provide youth with opportunities to make direct contact with hiring employers, provide access to additional community and educational resource, and also served as an enrollment effort for the Face Forward program. To participate in the event, each youth had to meet the same in criteria as they do for the Face Forward program (be 16-24, currently reside in Wayne County, have past or current involvement in the juvenile justice system, have no adult criminal offenses, and have no sexual offenses other than prostitution).


“March Madness” was packed full of activities for the youth who attended. Those in attendance had the opportunity to apply for jobs on site from venders such as Public Allies Metro Detroit, Youth United, Detroit Fire Department, Auto Zone, Tim Hortons, and more. Educational vendors, Covenant House Academy, St. Vincent & Sarah Fisher Center, Job Corps, and Back on Track Alternative Education provided educational resources and information, while community organizations such as Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit, Michigan State Health, and AFG provided program information for eligible youth. Additional resources included private HIV testing by the Horizons Project and mini workshops facilitated by AFG Peer Educators.
The youth also had the opportunity to enjoy food, music, and fun during “March Madness”. Youth participated in a basketball shoot-out tournament, a NBA 2K video game tournament, and “Minute To Win It” games, and also had the chance to enter to win a mountain bike, gift cards, t-shirts, and more. The young woman who won the bike shared that she previously used the bus for transportation and was elated that she could now use her bike to get where she needed to go.


Overall, “March Madness” successfully recruited youth for the Face Forward program and made it possible to provide access to worthwhile services to those who attended. AFG would like to thank the Detroit Recreation Department for sponsoring the location for this event and all of the vendors who provided resources and information for the youth!

For more information on the next Face Forward event or to enroll in the Face Forward program, contact Tyresha Robinson, Case Planning Services Manager of Face Forward, at 313-361-4000 ext. 240 or trobinson@alternativesforgirls.org.