Deborah is a determined woman who has overcome a childhood that included a drug addicted mother, an absent father, and both physical and mental abuse. She is a single parent striving for better. She aspires to use her real life experiences and knowledge gained through education to help other young women who are less fortunate than herself. In her own words: “I was thrilled to learn that I was chosen as a Live Your Dream awardee. I accept this honor with deep appreciation. I am a student in Wayne State University Social Work Bachelor’s program. With great determination, I plan to finish my bachelor degree and go into the Master’s Program. I plan to use my degree to help women gain understanding on how to overcome and know that dreams are very much achievable”.
Her compassion and responsibility is evident in the primary support for her own three children but also for 3 nieces and nephew for whom she is a foster parent. She has worked for 20 years in long term care facilities. Deborah completed a Certified Nursing Assistant program in 2014 from Oakland Community College. Deborah is currently enrolled in Wayne State University and will complete an internship this last semester. She will graduate this May with her Bachelor Degree.
A Poem writen by: Deborah Smith
Falling into purpose
Falling into purpose God has a plan
Falling into purpose into the all might's hand
Bombarded with an avalanche of life's rocks on the way
Dazed in the fog of internal fight
God ahs a purpose, God has a plan
From every direction a soft wind starts to blow
Through tear filled eyes a slight mist and a glow
One step, two steps, three steps, four
with every step taken a new thing has emerged
no longer dazed and your sight is so clear
God has a purpose, God has a plan
Large boulders turn to stones and the avalanche ceases
Swoops in like an eagle a new dawn new completions
now riding high in the hands of the Lord
what was considered a burden has endowed and produced strength
No matter the fight that life's journey produces
I find peace in knowing that
God has a purpose, God has a plan
Amanda (Amy) Good, CEO Alternative For Girls (AFG) MWS, BA Psychology, University of Michigan.
AFG Mission: To help homeless and high-risk girls and young women avoid violence, teen pregnancy, and exploitation and help them, explore and access the support, resources, and opportunities necessary to be safe to grow strong and to make positive choices in their lives. Shelter, Prevention and Outreach.
Amy Good, 2020 Soroptimist Ruby Award: For Women Helping Women.
At graduation from the University of Michigan School of Social Work, her professor, Rosemary Saari, gave her the challenge to "Do something hard and build something that wasn't there before." Since the mid-80's she has fulfilled that challenge. It began where she lived and worked in Southwest Detroit, near the former Tiger Stadium. The neighborhood residents noticed young girls drinking in the park and prostituting on the street. As a result of a community forum she and several other organized, three conclusions were reached. A program was needed: 1-To focus on children lost in the foster system (15, 16, 17), 2-To provide alternatives for girls prostituting in the street, and 3 - To provide crisis intervention to keep girls in their families and school. It was clear that a shelter for girls too old for foster care and too young for standard shelters was needed. Having no blueprint for setting up a shelter for girls, Ms. Good searched the country to find a shelter for girls. She gave up her fulltime counseling job to focus on the project because she found no model. In 1987 a 5-bed shelter was set up in the Parish House of St. Peter's Episcopal Church where a 16 year old homeless girl found shelter January, 1988. Fast forward, today, Alternative For Girls has its own building on West Grand Boulevard where over 32,000 girls and young women have found shelter all due to Ms. Good's response to the need of girls in that area.
For the first 20 years, AFG lacked a steady stream of funding depending on multi-year grants and private donations. To put AFG on more stable ground, Ms. Good guided AFG through development of a business plan, initiation of a campaign and began fundraisers, one of which is the annual Fundraiser, The Role Model Dinner. These initiative support hope for a brighter future for girls and young women.
Bio below is from the Internet
Amanda (Amy) Good, CEO, Alternatives For Girls (AFG). M.S.W., and B.A.: Psychology, University of Michigan. Ms. Good has served as Alternatives For Girls’ CEO since 1988. She has over 35 years of experience managing and directing human services programs serving Detroit children and families.
Under her leadership, AFG has grown from a volunteer-led project to a full-service agency serving homeless and high-risk girls and young women, along with their families, through street outreach, emergency shelter, transition to independent living, and prevention services. Ms. Good served as a gubernatorial appointee on the Michigan Committee on Juvenile Justice (2004 through 2017), and serves on the Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit board. She is a member of the Michigan Chapter of the International Women’s Forum. Her awards include Oprah Winfrey’s “Use Your Life” award (accompanied by $100,000 for AFG’s capital campaign), the United Way Community Services “Executive Director of the Year” award, Leadership Detroit’s “Leadership Challenge” award, and the National Council of Jewish Women Josephine S. Weiner Award for Community Service. She was awarded the University of Michigan School of Social Work Distinguished Alumni award in 2014. Alternatives For Girls was awarded Crain’s “Best Managed Non-Profit” award in 2017.
She is a lifelong runner, and, inspired by her son, she is a dedicated unicyclist. Ms. Good and her husband, David Finkel, raised their two children—now accomplished and contributing young adults—and continue to live, in their Detroit home.
Virginia Wagner Educational Award honors a woman who is enrolled in a university degree program, i.e., Bachelor, Master or Doctorate program and shows effort toward scholarship and has done volunteer work in the community and/or school and has a financial need. DEADLINE: January 15 of each year.
Please download and complete the application.
The complete application and required documents are to be emailed to:
by January 15, 2021
Please forward your questions to our
Virginia Wagner Co-Chair's
Elizabeth Lucas or Maddy Colavito
Live Your Dream honors a woman who is going to school to improve employment opportunities and is head of household, enrolled in a training or educational program and has financial need. You must be working towards a college/technical degree to be eligible for LYD.
This is the signature award of Soroptimist International of the Americas. It is awarded to women around the world. Soroptimist International of Grosse Pointe is proud to make a difference in the lives of women and girls and to help them Live Their Dream.
Applications may be submitted online through the Soroptimist website between July 1 & November 15 of each year
Please forward your questions to our
Live Your Dream Chair
Many of our winner's have went on to win at the regional level for an additional $5,000
The Soroptimist Ruby Award honors women who, through their professional or personal efforts, are making extraordinary differences in the lives of women or girls. Honorees are women who have worked to improve the lives of other women or girls. Their work has had a significant impact and also inspires and encourages other women.
DEADLINE February 28th.
Lavina has had a very difficult life, being primary support at an early age for her two younger half-sisters when their mother remarried and moved out of state. She continues to be the primary financial support for her 18 year old sister. Over the years and mentoring from her Matriarch Grandmother, Lavina took on the “mother role” and ties hard to provide for her sisters so they do not have to struggle as she did.
Lavina has an Associate Degree in general studies from Wayne State University. With determination and after applying three times,she is currently in the Macomb Community College nursing program working on her Associate Degree in Nursing. She expects to graduate at the end of this academic year and will immediately begin a Bachelor Degree in Nursing (BSN) at Oakland University.
Congratulations to SIGP Live Your Dream (LYD) Award Winner, Sara Mai Baker, who not only won at the Midwestern Regional level, she has now gone on to win the LYD Federation level award. SIA president, Rosemary Reid notified Sara that she won. Midwestern Region Governor, Vivian Walczesky, notified SIGP the fabulous news that Sara had won the award. Since there is not a SIA convention this year, Sara will be presented with the LYD award certificate by Midwestern Region’s Governor, Vivian Walczesky at SIGP’s June business meeting.
WHEN ROSEANNE SPOKE TO SARA SHE WAS LITERALLY IN TEARS. SHE IS SO THANKFUL AND JUST OVERWHELMED BY THIS MONETARY SUPPORT AND THE FACT THAT ALL THESE WOMEN ARE BEHIND HER. SHE REALLY CAN'T BELIEVE IT.
Angeles Cuevas Cervantes is a junior at Eastern Michigan University and is completing her bachelor’s degree in Language & International Careers-Spanish.
She is a first-generation college student who hails from Mexican town in Southwest Detroit. Her parents are both immigrants who have never finished high school but have fostered the importance of higher education in their children as a way towards stability. Her parents are not able to make much in the way of financial contributions towards Angeles’ studies, but have been generous in support and time for her.
Angeles decided on her major when she assisted in translation with a service group and folks in a town in Ecuador. She loves helping unity with communication, and relishes using her talents to facilitate this. She also assists her family and neighbors in translating documents, writing letters from immigration, and helping younger family towards their dreams of higher education.
As part of her degree program, she is required to study abroad in Spain. Angeles will be using the Virginia Wagner Educational Award to meet this requirement in Summer 2020.
She wants to become a licensed certified translator/interpreter and start a business using her talents in her community as her future goals.
Angeles Cuevas Cervantes
Please forward your questions to our
Ruby Award Chair
Maureen Anthony at
Grosse Pointe (SIGP)