volunteers Archives - Alternatives For Girls

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It’s time to Rise N’ Shine!: AFG’s free, six-week summer camp, Rise N’ Shine, is in full swing

Jul. 25 2019 | Tags: , , ,

On July 8th, the Rise N’ Shine summer camp began! The free, six-week summer camp gives girls in southwest Detroit a safe space to learn new things, improve their reading skills, make friends, and have fun. For three days each week, the campers spend the day participating in fun, educational workshops and field trips. This summer, workshops include science, dance, arts and crafts, gardening, nutrition, and more.

This year, the campers are between the ages of 7 to 15 years old. Each girl is assigned to one of three age groups, which determines the workshops they will attend each day. We sat down with some of the campers* from each group to hear about their favorite workshops, what they’ve learned, and more!

Sarah, Red Group (ages 10-11)

“My favorite part of Rise N’ Shine is the different people you get to meet!” Sarah exclaims. Sarah has been coming to Rise N’ Shine for six years. “I like that Rise N’ Shine is different every day,” she shares. The Red Group’s weekly workshops include African dance, STEAM (which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math), gardening, and nutrition. Sarah’s favorite workshop? Bike Club! Back Alley Bikes, non-profit community bike shop, is hosting the Bike Club workshop this summer. The campers are learning bike safety, how to change a tire, how to find a bike that fits their body, and more. They also go on bike rides together and have visited local businesses and gardens!

Mae, Yellow Group (ages 7-9)

Another Rise N’ Shine veteran, Mae has been coming to the camp for three years. “I love being able to talk to my friends!” Mae exclaims. In the Yellow Group, Mae and her friends attend gardening, science, theater, dance, and nutrition workshops. “My favorite workshop is gardening!” Mae says. In the gardening workshop, facilitated by the Detroit Garden Center, the campers learn the basics of planting, composting, and harvesting. “I like that we get to plant stuff, like flowers!” Mae shares. Mae’s second favorite workshop is science where she gets to do fun science experiments like making slime!

Christina, Blue Group (ages 11-15)

This is Christina’s first summer coming to Rise N’ Shine! “It’s fun! The girls in my group are great!” she smiles. The Blue Group attend arts and crafts, Chinese language and culture, science, nutrition, and STEAM workshops. Christina’s favorite workshop is arts and crafts. The campers get to stretch their artistic muscles by creating their own jewelry, picture frames, and more. “I also love the science workshop. We made rockets out of paper and launched them out of a tube,” she explains with her eyes wide. One thing Christina will always remember are the friends she made this summer, “I think we will all stay friends for a long time!”

A big thank you to all of the Rise N’ Shine volunteers, workshop facilitators, and everyone who has supported the camp this year!    

*Names have been changed to protect their confidentiality.

Sew Great Detroit Featured in Detroit Institute of Arts Exhibition: As part of a nearly year long project, AFG’s Sew Great Detroit is featured in the DIA’s “Ruben & Isabel Toledo: Labor of Love”

Dec. 27 2018 | Tags: ,

AFG’s social enterprise, Sew Great Detroit (SGD), collaborated with artists Ruben and Isabel Toledo to create a collection of handmade limited-edition tote bags to compliment the artists’ new Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) exhibition, “Ruben & Isabel Toledo: Labor of Love.” It was a partnership months in the making.

Earlier this year, Laurie Ann Farrell, Curator and Department Head, James Pearson Duffy Department of Contemporary Art, visited the Sew Great Detroit team at their workshop at Ponyride in Corktown.  She brought some of her fellow DIA colleagues with her and the SGD seamstresses had the opportunity to share examples of their work and talk about what they were learning.  Laurie told the SGD team about Ruben and Isabel Toledo and described the concept for their exhibition that the DIA was planning to open in December.  She invited the Sew Great Detroit team to meet Ruben and Isabel Toledo and to discuss how SGD could collaborate on a project related to the upcoming exhibition. 

As a result of that discussion with the Toledo’s, the SGD team was hired to design and sew two types of canvas bags: a limited number of large bags that would be sent to The Toledo Studio in New York where Ruben agreed to hand paint each one with a unique design and 100 smaller canvas tote bags that would be screen printed with an original Ruben Toledo design.

On December 13, the Sew Great Detroit members were very excited to attend the preview of the new exhibition, “Ruben & Isabel Toledo: Labor of Love”, at the DIA.  The SGD members were able to see the original paintings on the limited edition bags for the first time.  They were beautiful, and they did not last long!  The hand painted bags sold out quickly, but the 100 special screen printed totes are currently for sale in the DIA shop.

The women of Sew Great Detroit are so excited to have had the opportunity to partner with the Toledo’s and are honored to be featured in a DIA exhibit. They can’t wait to bring their children, grandchildren, friends and family to the exhibit and share this success with them. During the week following the opening, the women in the Sew Great program took a break from sewing to reflect on their experience collaborating with the Toledo’s.  Here are some of their thoughts:

 “It made us all feel happy.  It made me feel that our skill—our learning to sew—is purposeful.  I feel like we contribute something important to Alternatives For Girls and to the DIA.”

 “Meeting the Toledo’s and hearing their story gives me hope.  It helps me to realize that there are levels or steps to achievement.  Becoming a fashion designer doesn’t happen overnight.  Their story made me want to enjoy the journey.”

“I’m putting something of myself out there in the world and it makes me feel good.  Sewing is something that I want to do.  It is a labor of love. I’m paid for my work, but it is also something that I love.”

 “I am amazed to see my picture on the wall of the DIA.  When I see my picture on the wall, I think it’s somebody else….but it’s not, it is me!”

 “People at the DIA event recognized us as the seamstresses and they were buying the bags right in front of me.  It made me feel very special.”

“I enjoy the program and I’ve learned to do things that I thought I couldn’t do.  I am thankful to Laurie Farrell.  The Toledo project was awesome.  I never thought I would have the chance to do something like this.”

“Who would think that a recovering addict and someone of my age, with no experience, could be taught something new and succeed.  This impacts me but it also impacts people around me.  My sister and I sew together now.  I don’t miss watching T.V.!  I think it helps the community—the people around us —to see that we can do this.”

The exhibit runs until July 7, 2019 and it is free for residents of Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.  While you are there, look for the pictures of the Sew Great Detroit members and be sure to pick up one of the screen printed bags from collaboration in the DIA gift shop!

Alternatives For Girls and Sew Great Detroit would like to thank: DIA Director, Salvador Salort-Pons, for his efforts to reach out to the community and find ways to bring the joy of art to everyone, Laurie Ann Farrell, and her wonderful staff, for making this such a positive and life affirming experience, Eric Huck, Director of Retail Operations, for his kindness, his guidance and for giving us an opportunity to sell our items in the DIA gift shop, Mark Valade, C.E.O., Carhartt, Inc. for his generous donation of canvas fabric, and Lois Cohn, who, since Sew Great Detroit launched in 2014, has been SGD’s steadfast champion.

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

Dec. 20 2018 | Tags: , ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Local Stores, Girlie Girl, Tenue, and Lori Karbal, Support Sew Great Detroit Knit

Oct. 30 2018 | Tags: , ,

Members of Sew Great Detroit (SGD) Knit meet weekly to create beautiful, handmade knitted items, such as scarves and hats. Thanks to the support of local stores through contracted projects, the members of SGD Knit also receive a stipend for their work, just like the Sew Great Detroit sewers! This holiday season, you can purchase these special items from local stores in Grosse Pointe Woods and Birmingham: Girlie Girl, Tenue, and Lori Karbal.

Michelle Beaudette Grates opened her salon, Girlie Girl, in Grosse Pointe Woods in 2005. Since then, Girlie Girl has been providing the community with full salon services, as well as beauty products, candles, and women’s clothing. Just two years ago, Michelle opened her new boutique, Tenue, a lifestyle shop selling home, clothing, and table top items. Michelle was one of the first supporters and customers of Sew Great Detroit Knit and has been ordering hats and scarves for her stores for four years.

Sew Great Detroit Knit has another steadfast supporter in Lori Karbal, who opened her namesake boutique in Birmingham 28 years ago. Lori loves to adapt and bring her customers the very latest in style and fashion. While she started out selling beauty products, over the years she expanded her offerings to candles, home items, gifts, books, and women’s fashion. Lori was Sew Great Detroit’s first customer and has supported SGD’s efforts all year long – selling hats, scarves, knitted pumpkins, and kitchen items.

A special thank you to Michelle and Lori for their generous and continued support of Alternatives For Girls and Sew Great Detroit!

Sew Great Detroit Member and Volunteers Participate in the Detroit Free Press Marathon

Oct. 30 2018 | Tags: ,

This month, members and volunteers of Sew Great Detroit participated in the Detroit Free Press Marathon 5k race! We talked to Sharon, SGD member, after the race was over to discuss the exciting experience.

Alternatives For Girls (AFG): Sharon, why did you want to enter the Detroit Free Press Marathon 5K event?

Sharon: I wanted to make another healthy change in my life and I want to encourage other women and girls to make healthy changes in their lives.

AFG: What did you enjoy the most about being in the 5K?

Sharon: I loved talking with all the people.  Everywhere I turned my head I saw something I liked, a little baby smiling at me or someone ringing a bell for me.  And I liked being on the Riverwalk.  It was beautiful.  There is so much to see and do downtown.  Now I want to take my grandsons to the Riverwalk and walk with them.

AFG: What did it feel like when the finish sign was in sight?

Sharon: When I could see the sign for the finish line in the distance I was really happy.  Then I saw all the people waving to me and cheering for me and ringing the bells.  I kept walking at my pace but inside I was running and jumping and even doing cartwheels.  It was a great feeling.

AFG: What inspired you most about the experience?

Sharon: I was most inspired knowing that I was walking not just for me but for others, like the girls and women who come to Alternatives For Girls.  I was inspired by other people in the race too like cancer survivors and people who are elderly.

Congratulations on this amazing accomplishment, Sharon!

Alternatives For Girls’ Prom

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

On August 17th, Alternatives For Girls held its first ever prom! The event was held for the girls and women in AFG’s programs who were not able to attend their own prom. On the day of the event, staff and volunteers transformed AFG’s community room into a beautiful ballroom. Thanks to many generous individuals, businesses, and groups, the room was complete with sound, lighting, a special favor bar with lots of candy, and formal tablescapes.

Before the prom began, the girls and women were pampered by volunteer hairstylists and make-up artists. Once they were ready, they put on their beautiful dresses, shoes, and accessories, which were all donated by generous individuals, and walked down the red carpet. After getting their photo taken, the party began!

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

The dancing continued until the night came to a close. Each girl and woman left with a smile on their face, grateful for experiencing the special evening.

Alternatives For Girls would like to thank all of the donors and volunteers who made the AFG Prom possible! We could not have done it without your support.

Rise N’ Shine Finale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apr. 6 2018 | Tags: , , ,

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

The evening was full of fun, inspiration, and hope. After an hour of mingling and a silent auction, the program kicked off with a live auction. Rhonda Walker, Local 4 News Morning Anchor and 2008 AFG Role Model Awardee, emceed the event. The dinner, co-chaired this year by Faye Nelson and Pam Rodgers, provided an opportunity for us to hear from many of the young women whose lives have been changed by AFG’s programs. We heard stories of struggle and triumph, and many reflections on the theme of the night, Rise Up, City Rose. The evening closed with the thrilling “Fund the Mission,” led by auctioneer Chris Aslanian, during which event guests pledged monetary support to AFG.

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

We would like to thank our dinner co-chairs, Faye Nelson and Pam Rodgers, and the entire Role Model Dinner Committee, who helped make the event such an incredible success! We would also like to thank Rhonda Walker, our emcee, Chris Aslanian, our auctioneer, and all of the dedicated volunteers who helped make the event possible. Thank you to all of the young women from our programs; Rose, Kaye-Lynn, Eboni, Sierra, and Leah, who shared their stories and showed us the courage it takes to rise up and become who they really are.

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

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

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!

November Volunteer Spotlight: AFG’s Volunteer Department spotlights volunteers who have gone above and beyond

Dec. 7 2017 | Tags: , , ,

Each month, Alternatives For Girls’ Volunteer Department, highlights volunteers who go above and beyond. In November, the volunteers of AFG’s Sew Great Detroit program were selected for their hard work on one of the program’s largest orders yet!

On November 13th, Sew Great Detroit delivered 175 beautifully handmade canvas totes to the German Marshall Fund’s BUILD Conference. The German Marshall Fund is a Washington D. C. based nonprofit that works with local and regional leaders in the US and Europe on urban policy issues.  This year, the German Marshall Fund chose to host their BUILD conference in Detroit.  While planning for the conference, the Director of the German Marshall Fund, Geraldine Gardner, learned about Sew Great Detroit, and Alternatives For Girls’ mission.

Each year, the German Marshall Fund designs a welcome bag for conference attendees showcasing the talents of the host city’s vendors and artisans.  Believing that the mission of AFG spoke to the values of the BUILD conference – equity, inclusion, and sustainability – she reached out to Sew Great Detroit with the hopes of partnering. Sew Great Detroit’s canvas totes were a perfect fit, and the German Marshall Fund ordered 175 of Sew Great Detroit’s signature tote bags to print their artwork on and use as welcome bags!

To help the young women in Sew Great Detroit complete the order, the Sew Great Detroit volunteers went above and beyond. They worked many hours to cut, fold, and measure in order to meet the deadline. Each volunteer showed a level of dedication well above expectation in order to support the wonderful opportunity for the group. Without them, the tote bags would not have gotten completed in time!

Alternatives For Girls would like to thank the many Sew Great Detroit volunteers who gave so much of their time and talents to this project.  It is because of them that Sew Great Detroit is so great! 

Interested in volunteering? Please contact Jessica Pate, Volunteer Services Manager, at 313-361-4000 ext. 248 or volunteering@alternativesforgirls.org to discuss the next steps to becoming a volunteer at Alternatives For Girls!