Community Engagement

Helping Alternatives for Girls

OUWB student orgs create kits for Detroit-based nonprofit

An image of students preparing care packages

Four student organizations of OUWB got together last spring to assemble graduate care kits for Alternatives for Girls (AFG), a charity based out of Detroit focused on homeless and high-risk girls and young women. (Photo by Joe Zerilli)

OUWB, Oakland University, Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine

icon of a calendarJuly 6, 2022

icon of a pencilBy Joe Zerilli

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Four student organizations of OUWB got together last spring to assemble graduate care kits for Alternatives for Girls (AFG), a charity based out of Detroit focused on homeless and high-risk girls and young women.

This was the second year this event has been held.

AFG was founded in 1987 by Amanda Good who still serves as Chief Executive Officer of the organization. What started as a small program that was run by volunteers is now an organization with over 75 employees and a building in Detroit.

The kits were designed for those getting out of high school and entering the next phase of their lives. Each kit contained a notebook, two pairs of socks, one towel, one blanket, two washcloths, one hamper and a pencil pouch containing: five tea bags, two pens and two pencils and a granola bar, and each one came in a backpack.

The event was held by the student organizations Harm Reduction Alliance (HRA); The Sherlocks of Medicine: Pathology Interest Group; American Medical Students Association; and Emergency Medicine Interest Group.

President of HRA Connie Chen put on the event with help of Vice President Skylar Sundquist and one of the community outreach chairs, Lakshmi Vrittamani.

“It's so nice when you go to Target and they give you that little sheet of things that you need to buy and a lot of times you don't really know what you need, you don't know what is the most important thing,” Chen said.

“It's really nice to have just the basics, like even just a pencil ready, something to help them, I think just sends them off on a good note.”

Vrittamani spoke about the expense of making the jump and trying to gather supplies while getting acclimated to school or work and Sundquist spoke about the challenges of making the transition after high school.

“I was really excited about this event, because from high school to college can be a really challenging time or whatever you're doing after high school,” Sundquist said. “And I think it's amazing that our organization is able to support that transition. I think it's a cute little starter pack for whatever people are going to do.”

Saul Castillo, rising M2, said in addition to money, this also saves a lot of time so people don’t have to go out looking for a bunch of small things.

Vrittamani spoke about why AFG was chosen as the group to donate to for the event.

“Alternative for Girls is a great organization that helps at-risk youth and at-risk teenagers. And I think as part of the Harm Reduction Alliance it’s important that we make connections with local organizations that are incorporating harm reduction principles in several ways and helping to ensure that teachers and young adults have the support that they need to transition and they've been doing a really excellent job supporting the community so we're really happy to help them do that.”

Katie Couture, special events and development coordinator, AFG, said it’s very helpful for OUWB to be doing this and said that the volunteers and people who donate their time, money, resources or whatever it may be are the backbone of the organization.

“Kits like this and initiatives like this, whether or not it's we received things or whether it's just us being a part of an event of a new organization or a new group that may not have heard about us before, it’s just always great when we can get our organization out there. So we're very appreciative.,” Couture said.

As an organization that serves girls and young women — the main age range being 15 to 22 years old — Couture said it is a wonderful thing that all the organization’s presidents are women.

“I mean, of course, we are all about empowerment and all that sorts of things. We have all these things where we try to surround our women with women who are doing good in their community and women who are leaders,” Couture said. “And I think it's just awesome to be collaborating with organizations who are kind of living our mission and what we believe in.”

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