Over the past year, I have heard this phrase that has resonated deeply with me: “I got you.”  It’s a distinctly Detroit phrase that I didn’t hear much when I lived on the west side of the state.  But its power and versatility have quickly won me over.  I love all the different meanings it can have.  It’s an expression of understanding, support, and solidarity.  And I hear this phrase constantly around Vista Maria, too.   In meetings, moments of stress, or even shouted across the road, this phrase has real weight and meaning.

In our work, “I got you” takes on a special significance.  It means more than just lending a hand; it’s really about acknowledging each other’s struggles, recognizing our needs, and standing shoulder-to-shoulder as we navigate difficult moments together. One of the first people to introduce me to this phrase was Meredith Reese, our Chief Operating Officer. Early in my tenure here, I was feeling nervous about presenting at a meeting with folks I didn’t know well yet. Meredith reached across the table, patted my arm gently, and said- “Don’t worry. I’ve got you!”. And indeed, she did. In moments where I wasn’t sure, she quickly stepped in and took the floor to ensure everything went smoothly. I’ve been fortunate enough to have times like that with every member of the executive team- and I hope I’ve done the same for them.

More than just hearing and feeling it, I have seen the spirit of “I got you” embodied in so many ways across our campus.   It’s the act of sitting quietly on the floor with a distressed youth, offering reassurance and understanding.  It’s the simple gesture of providing a listening ear for a colleague.  It’s our skills trainers and seasoned veterans offering guidance to our newer staff.  It’s inviting a colleague on a walk to take a break and remind each other to care for our mental and physical health.

By living this “I got you” culture, we’re not just strengthening the bonds within our teams; we’re really building a whole culture of collaboration and resilience.  And we’re also setting a powerful example for the youth in our care.

While the last few months have presented their share of challenges, it’s so important that we keep the spirit of “I got you” in all that we do.  As you heard in the last Town Hall meetings, we’re working on a number of different initiatives to support you—everything from changing schedules to expanding DEIB efforts and making important safety changes. I’ve also spent a lot of time in the last month engaging with state legislators and our MDHHS Director, joining with other CEOs from Michigan child welfare agencies to advocate for changes that will support you as well as our young people and families.

So, please know that when I say, “I got you,” it’s not just a phrase; it’s a promise that we’re in this together every step of the way.