Detroit Stories Episode 61: 'Alternatives for Girls' (PODCAST)

In the 1980s, a group of concerned Detroiters set out to help exploited women; today, their program is a blueprint for U.S.

(0:11) The narrator sets the scene of Detroit in the 1980s, when disturbing trends across the city found young women caught up in exploitive and oppressive situations, including gang activity, homelessness, drugs and sex work. Amy Good, CEO of the Detroit nonprofit Alternatives for Girls, describes early efforts to combat these trends.

(3:12) Good describes the support services landscape for girls in Detroit during that era — essentially, there was nothing. So a courageous group of Detroiters from many faiths, backgrounds and communities came together to do something about it.

(6:02) Good talks about why the situation for young homeless women is often different than the situation facing young men.

(8:14) The solution had to be threefold: A.) There needed to be shelter for the young women seeking help, who often were too old for the foster system but too young for adult shelters. B.) A compassionate response was needed to help victims of sex trafficking. C.) Support to help girls stay in school and graduate.

(9:22) Good talks about the early challenges with funding the new initiative. Despite a lack of funding, the initiative took a leap of faith when, on a cold January day, a 16-year-old girl walked in the doors of the church looking for help.

(12:32) On a shoestring budget, Alternatives for Girls started out with a makeshift shelter in the church basement. Finally, a financing source came through, and the fledgling nonprofit began to expand, including a street outreach ministry and peer prevention program.

(18:48) In the past 36 years, Alternatives for Girls has grown and expanded to include a daycare center for babies of the women in the shelter, workforce development coordination, housing stability program and more. Soon, the nonprofit plans to open a 45-unit affordable housing complex in northwest Detroit.

(24:17) Amy Good talks about the success of Alternatives for Girls, which remains the only runaway shelter in the city of Detroit and a blueprint for cities across the country battling perennial issues facing young women in difficult situations looking for hope.

Reporting by Gabriella Patti; narration and script by Casey McCorry; production by Ron Pangborn

This episode of Detroit Stories is brought to you by Gather Them Home, a program of the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Catholic Funeral and Cemetery Services. Our Catholic faith teaches that cremated remains should be buried in Sacred and Consecrated Ground, and the Archdiocese of Detroit has a beautiful program to help you called Gather Them Home. It provides a Catholic burial for your loved one's cremated remains at one of six Archdiocese of Detroit cemeteries at no cost to you. For more information about the free Gather Them Home program, please visit or call (734) 285-2155.

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