Read our 2021 annual report

Section 4: How do we take care of each other?

How do we take care of each other?

I need a plane ticket to the center of the ocean. I need rest. I need a hug.

Ask people what they need. The first thing you’ll hear is silence. A blank stare will penetrate the space beyond your head as they puzzle over the meaning of the question.

“No one has ever asked me that before,” they may say. Which is almost as heartbreaking as what’s more true–that people rarely ask themselves this question.

There is magic in the inquiry. Asking, “What do you need?” gives people permission to think about their personal wellness, and with any luck, moves them one step further toward prioritizing it.

There is magic in the inquiry. Asking, “What do you need?” gives people permission to think about their personal wellness, and with any luck, moves them one step further toward prioritizing it.

After a beat (or three), you’ll start to get answers. Time. Travel. Perhaps time travel, but rarely is the answer that tricky.

“What do you need?” doesn’t prompt an inventory of desires. What most people crave is simply a piece of peace.

When the pandemic broke out, we asked this of our staff. As a result, we became a hybrid work place, offering more flexibility in work settings and schedules. We sent care packages. We sang to each other. (Were the reactions smiles or tight grimaces? Invite us to your next Zoom birthday celebration to find out.)

The personal wellness practices of Team Skillman.

What do you need?

We asked this of Detroit youth and adults who serve them, including our grant partners, what we heard influenced our grantmaking on the whole and prompted a $4-million Wellness Works Initiative which has supported a range of wellness activities including ones led by young people, focused on school leaders, enacted across schools, and practiced by youth-serving nonprofits.

Courtney Wise Randolph, a Detroit storyteller, sat with youth and their adult allies at four local nonprofits:

She asked,

“What do people need to be well?”

Hear what they had to say:

Read the full transcript

Learn about how these Detroiters are elevating wellness.

Let’s Talk: Youth Mental Health & COVID

Video

A Detroit youth and two community advocates talk about how young people are coping through the pandemic and the role nonprofits play.

Terry Whitfield of The Skillman Foundation talks with Laura Bakosh, Kiesha Jackson, and Tykesha Boyer about supporting youth mental health.