The nonprofit mentoring, tutoring, and service learning organization Purposeful YOUth Detroit (PYD) has been helping shape young girls into hardworking, dignified women in the community since 2014. The program takes girls ages five to 16 years old from Detroit and the surrounding suburbs and helps them become positive trendsetters in their community.
PYD has been a success because of the huge number of volunteers, tutors, and mentors that meet with the girls bi-monthly, but also stay in contact year round. These mentors become role models in the young girls’ lives and help them with their character development, academic achievements, and community service.
“The goal of the program is to get girls out of their comfort zone and try things they never would have tried before,” Nikkia Matthews, founder and CEO, said in an interview.
Throughout the program, girls are given the opportunity to take classes in different life lessons that will be valuable to their future. Classes include Self Esteem, Confidence Building, Etiquette, and even Mock Interviews/Leadership Writing.
To go along with these life lessons, the program allows the girls the opportunity to be involved in various doing various community service projects throughout the year. They participate in community potlucks, Detroit beautification projects, and their most popular event, the Million Shoe March.
The Million Shoe March started in October 2015 and has had two very successful events. PYD girls and volunteers were able to distribute thousands of free shoes to those of need and the event is the perfect example of what PYD wants to be in the community, according to Matthews.
“The program was started with the idea of getting girls to be a part of the solution in the community, and we thought that shoes were something that unified people,” Matthews explained. “We gathered donations from local Detroiters and people from out of state that heard about us. We had thousands of shoes in front of the Riverfront and we wanted people in the community to come get these shoes that they needed for free, no questions asked.”
The Million Shoe March will not be happening this fall, but Matthews said that she hopes the program will be back in early 2017 and then again later that fall.
PYD will be hosting a small fundraiser on Saturday, September 17 on the Detroit Riverfront where girls can paint in the park. The event costs $10 to get in and more information can be found here.