Founded in 2020, Southfield-based nonprofit A Girl Like Me Inc. has quickly created a safe, nonjudgmental space for girls and women. By offering mentorship, resources and education, they support teenage mothers and other girls and young women, ages 11 to 25. “It’s been a great response,” says founder Tyra Moore, who became pregnant at just 14 years old. She kept it a secret for months. “When my mom found out, it was on Tuesday; I gave birth in the same week on a Friday. And, yeah, I didn’t have anything.”
Moore says the women in her life sprung to action. Family, friends, neighbors and her mom’s coworkers rallied around her, and, by the time she came home from the hospital two days later, her baby girl in her arms, they’d gotten her everything she would need. “They had the house filled. We couldn’t even walk in,” she says. It was that experience that solidified in her a determination to pay it forward when and where she could. When she was laid off from her job as a medical assistant during the pandemic, Moore says she took that as a sign to really dig her heels in. “Once I got laid off, I was like, ‘I want to go strong with this,’” she says. “I made a Facebook page, started doing community events down the street in my neighborhood, and it just moved from there.”
She says it was important to her that the organization included young women as well because she remembers that the difficulty that came with being a teen mom didn’t end when she turned 18. Now 30, Moore says from figuring out how to co-parent with her daughter’s father to struggling with housing insecurity, she struggled in adulthood, too. “There are so many women and young girls in positions like me and still going through challenges with being homeless or things like that, or don’t have family to help them.” Though, A Girl Like Me does offer a tailored mentorship program specifically for girls 11 to 17. The group – comprised of moms and non-mothers – meets on weekends to discuss topics around home and school life, sexual wellness and safety, emotional health, hygiene and more. They also regularly get out and engage the community, volunteering at shelters and visiting museums.
Moore also makes sure her girls – and the occasional boy – have access to necessary resources like diapers, clothing, baby food, wipes and the like. These items are donated by the community or procured by Moore and her team. But you won’t find all the ways in which they assist listed on the website. Moore says she’s helped girls get hotel rooms or get to work when their transportation has fallen through, or just been a shoulder to lean on. “Some of my girls, they really didn’t talk at home, or had problems with their moms. I’ve gotten calls from parents like,
‘What are y’all doing? This is a whole new person.’” It helps that Moore doesn’t pretend to be perfect or have it all figured out. She says that approachability allows her girls to feel like they can talk to her about anything. “I’m like their big sister.” Social media friends who aren’t involved in the organization will also sometimes reach out to Moore for advice or resources because they see what she’s up to.
The work can take a toll on her, but Moore leans on her own support system, which includes her husband, friends and family, in those tough moments. Looking ahead also helps. She wants to create a center that offers housing, employment support, education assistance, day care, life coaching and a boutique for professional clothes needed for an interview – a one-stop shop of sorts. About these girls, particularly the young mothers, Moore wants people to remember that, “It’s not
always their fault.” Many of them come from less-than-ideal circumstances and find themselves lacking support, education and options. She says, “Having a baby young is not the choice that we would want our girls to make, but keep going. You can finish high school, you can get a job, you can find reasonable child care for your baby.” A boost from the community can make all the difference.
A Girl Like Me Inc. is always in need of diapers and volunteers. To donate or get involved, visit agirllikemeinc.org.