Rhonda Walker’s commitment to community service springs from her deep roots in the community, and permeates all her activities.

Working Girl
Rhonda Walker started in television news 11 years ago, when she applied to Fox 2 News for a position as traffic reporter. She aspired to the news reporting and anchoring side, but decided to take whatever was available to get into broadcasting. Her foot in the door was traffic. Rhonda’s prior work experience was in pharmaceutical sales. In that job, “You live in your car” she says, “driving from Grosse Pointe to Novi, to Rochester Hills, to Melvindale.” So she knew every stretch of the metro area roads, and the traffic reporting job suited the experience she already had. She was able to use her traffic stint to tune other skills, so that she was ready to branch out when a news reporting opportunity opened up, and subsequently, an anchor position.

Rhonda sees her profession as itself primarily community service. “We have a huge responsibility to the community to provide vital health and safety information, whether it’s a consumer alert about a virus on your computer, or a salmonella outbreak. Whatever story we do, we have a responsibility to make it as relevant and important and informative to our community as we possibly can.”

Paying It Forward
By late 2002, she knew she wanted to do something to promote education for children, but was it to be a scholarship fund, or possibly a mentoring program? She discussed it with her father, and he advised mentoring, “hands down.” If young people are isolated, if they don’t encounter role models they can see, touch and talk to, they may not realize they have the potential. So in December 2002 I decided to start a foundation with the purpose of empowering inner city teen girls toward becoming strong, confident and successful future leaders.”

“In March, 2003, I launched the Rhonda Walker Foundation’s Girls into Women Program, a five-year program of career and self-development. We provide etiquette training, and public speaking training. We prepare them for the annual empowerment lunch by teaching not just table etiquette, in terms of what fork to use, but how to initiate a conversation in a room with people you don’t know, so you don’t just stand in the corner not saying a word.” At the empowerment lunch, they have a challenge, to sell raffle tickets, but the real purpose of the challenge is to help build self-esteem, overcome shyness and learn how to approach people.

Rhonda is most proud of the fact that the program works -- every girl who has completed the five-year program is now in a four-year college or university. Rhonda wants to continue to maintain the program, to grow to reach more kids, and to take the message to more kids in more schools. She believes a school should be able to provide more than just academics. Her thoughts about the future include possibly establishing a girls’ academy, an entire school with strong personal development.

Earlier on HuffPost:

Discovering Detroit: 10 Things To Do, See And Eat This Fall (PHOTOS)
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  • What Crepe

    Crepe cuisine continues to infiltrate the Detroit metro area with the Birmingham outpost of <a href="http://guides.uptownmagazine.com/details/what-crepe-detroit-mi">What Crepe</a>. Go for the breakfast-themed Bon Appetit or any of the 50+ varieties of sweet and savory options. Considering the bespoke creations available, you'll need a mathematician to calculate how long it'll take to get though the entire menu, which caters to carnivores and vegans alike. 172 N. Old Woodward; 248.792.5634; <a href="http://guides.uptownmagazine.com/details/what-crepe-detroit-mi">whatcrepe.com</a>.

  • Volt Lounge

    Keeping in step with the Renaissance Center’s automotive theme, Volt is always buzzing with energy. Typically populated by convention goers and GM employees, it capitalizes on location while offering its clientele a place to unwind after a day of seminars and spread sheets. Come hungry (try favorites like the fish tacos or roast turkey BLT) or come thirsty (the Pomegranate Ginger Martini is a winner) and you'll be sure to leave satisfied. 400 Renaissance Dr.; 313.568.8700; <a href="http://guides.uptownmagazine.com/details/volt-lounge-detroit">marriott.com</a>.

  • Paul Cicchini Custom Clothier

    It’s safe to say most of Detroit’s well-dressed gentlemen, including Braylon Edwards and Derek Coleman, get their stylish threads from Cicchini. The shop, named after tailor extraordinaire Paul Cicchini, specializes in ready-made luxury suits, crafted strictly by hand. Staff members -- which many hail directly from Italy -- are impeccably dressed connoisseurs of clothing and capable of creating custom pieces to suit any man’s taste. While the shop is dedicated to making suits, the menswear boutique's true talent lies in tailoring. Paul, an Italian native well into is eighties, can be found flexing his alteration expertise on any given day. 180 S. Old Woodward Ave.; 248.646.0535; <a href="http://guides.uptownmagazine.com/details/cicchini-custom-clothier-detroit-mi">cicchinicustomclothier.com</a>.

  • La Casa De La Cabana

    Headed to the Motor City on business? Or in need of some manly “me time”? La Casa De La Cabana it the place to be. The custom-designed walk-in humidor stocked with hundreds of different imported and premium cigars alone makes La Casa de la Habana a cigar lover’s heaven. Add in the 50-inch flat screens, a shoe shine station, wireless Internet, and an extensive whiskey selection and you’ve got just about any man’s version of paradise. 1502 Randolph St.; 313.285.8332; <a href="http://guides.uptownmagazine.com/details/la-casa-de-la-cabana">lacasadelahabana.com</a>.

  • KouZina

    In search of an authentic Greek (and cheap) experience in Detroit? KouZina is it. Long-time friends Bobby Laskaris and George Xenos have teamed up for a stellar execution of Greek street food. Inside the 24 seat eatery, pork, chicken and beef-lamb rotisseries are sliced fresh to make mouth-watering gyros. The limited seating and disposable plates and utensils support a no-frills aesthetic, but do nothing to take away from the amazing food. Pork and chicken are the true winners, while baklava sweetens the deal. Daily specials like stuffed grape leaves, lamb shank and chicken lemonato are a must-try and sell out fast. The quaint space makes it more ideal for carry out, but on a nice warm day patio seats are perfect for people watching. 121 N. Main St.; 248.629.6500; <a href="http://guides.uptownmagazine.com/details/kouzina">gokouzina.com</a>.

  • Just Baked

    Downtown Detroit just got a little sweeter! Just Baked has opened its 12th location in the historic Dime Building at 719 Griswold. The specialty cupcake shop and bakery offers up more than 65 different flavors of gourmet "jumbo" cupcakes, including Samoa, Red Velvet, S’mores, White Chocolate Raspberry and the famous “Fat Elvis” cupcake. The shop hopes to sell thousands of cupcakes a month out of the new downtown location, so stop by and help them reach their goal! 719 Griswold St.; 248.255.1441; <a href="http://www.justbakedshop.com/">justbakedshop.com</a>.

  • Golden Girls: Saturday Nov. 3

    Want to see Olympic gold girl Gabby Douglas up close and personal? On Saturday, November 3, at 7:30 p.m., the history-making gymnast and her teammates, including Michigan’s own Jordyn Wieber, will stop through Metro Detroit and perform at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Don’t miss your chance to congratulate these high-flying Olympians! Tickets are available for $75, $45, and $25; <a href="http://palacenet.com/splash.html">palacenet.com</a>

  • Centaur Bar

    Centaur is the logical next stop after work for locals and just as great for visitors. Just after 5, it’s populated with suits from across the area looking for a stiff drink and a cozy vibe. Great drinks, a light tapas menu (mahi mahi tacos and gourmet mac 'n' cheese is worth trying), pool, and flat screens complete the experience. 2233 Park Ave.; 313-963-4040; <a href="http://guides.uptownmagazine.com/details/centaur">centaurbar.com</a>.

  • Atlas Global Bistro

    Located in the hipster haven of Midtown, Atlas Global Bistro has garnered much buzz around town because of its menu, which features your favorite eats from around the world. One menu must is the Shredded Duck and Goat Cheese omelet. Pair that with a freshly squeezed Grapefruit Mimosa, and your experience turns other worldly. 3111 Woodward Ave.; 313.831.2241; <a href="http://guides.uptownmagazine.com/details/atlas-global-bistro-detroit">atlasglobalbistro.com</a>.

  • Art Our Way, Through Feb 3, 2013

    Often, African art is interpreted through a Western lens as an expression of timeless myth and ritual. The African Art and the Shape of Time exhibit at the University of Michigan Museum of Arts has something to say about that. The exhibition includes 30 works from the National Museum of African Art, Fowler Museum at UCLA, as well as several Detroit area private collections. The exhibit is free and open until February 3, 2013. The UMMA galleries are open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m.–5 p.m. 734.764.0395.