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Inspiring Conversations with Rashad Skinner of Sapphire Therapeutic Services, Inc

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rashad Skinner.

Hi Rashad, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I started working in the community right out of college as a Child Protective Services (CPS) caseworker. My first case was an extremely premature, medically fragile, baby born to a teenage mother. She was in no position to care for the baby but I felt, if given the opportunity early in her pregnancy, this situation could have been prevented. The more I worked with families and children in foster care, the more I realized many of these children could have been or were capable of being returned home if the parents were equipped with the tools necessary to provide for them. I would attempt to help as many families as I could but there was so much bureaucracy and litigation I felt I could not help the community from the position I was in. I felt the best way for me to really change this inadequate system was to climb the ladder and make a difference.

However, I was entry level, fresh out of college so the reality was that would not happen easily. So I decided to get a graduate degree and equip parents myself. Fix families and not break them up. Years passed and I was working at different social service agencies in different capacities. I was never making the moves necessary to make the difference I wanted. I believed the only way I could make change was with a big company. In 2009, I came to the realization that I was spinning my wheels all this time, hoping someone else would give me the opportunity to help. Soon I found myself in the same position as the people who needed my assistance. I lost my job. I put my faith in others; hoping they would give me a chance to lead, rather than having faith in myself to empower the community I wished to serve. I was unemployed, disenfranchised, with no prospects and to make it even more interesting, my wife and I were expecting our first child. I realized this was a predicament I put myself in. I put someone else in charge of my dream. This desire to help the community was mine and I was looking for someone else to give me the chance. I remember when I was let go, my immediate supervisor walked me to door. She couldn’t keep up with me walking out due to the new fire rising in me to take back my dream. When I stopped for her to take a breather, she told me “At your next job,…” I don’t really recall what she said next. It wasn’t important. My response was, “What next job? I going to do what I should have been doing all along. There is no ‘next job’ for me.” From that parking lot, I went to the nearest courthouse and filled out a DBA application. The following Sunday, I told my minister I lost my job and he let me use a closet at the church to start up. I was blessed to use St. Paul AME church as my springboard until I was able to get an actual office space.

While at St. Paul, my wife was working at MD Anderson. She told a chaplain the struggle and he referred me to Harris County CSCD to become a provider for people who were arrested. In addition, I enrolled to be a provider for drug and family counseling for CPS. The same agency that got it all started was now referring me clients I could equip. In 2018, the clientele grew to where I needed to incorporate and hire staff. So I incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit community organization. Later in 2019, I met woman with the Texas Office of Attorney General who told me how my fledgling agency can provide free counseling to victims of violent crimes. In the first year 0f incorporating, we served nearly 500 clients. The organization offers parenting classes, outpatient drug treatment, family and individual counseling, as well as counseling for victims of violent crimes. All of our services are aimed at creating a nurturing environment for children in their home.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Without struggle, there is no progress. Over the years, the common obstacle is competing with the big well established corporations. I don’t have the personnel to host galas or clothing drives or become the “official blah blah” of any sports teams. I can’t compete with the marketing budgets of the established nonprofits in town. It is also extremely difficult to retain staff who leave for insurance packages, retirement plans, or other benefits that come with the full time employment big companies. I have been the only full time employee over all these years where as I have had several stellar part time employees. When they have come on board, I tell them up front I don’t have fringe benefits but I can provide the flexibility of setting your hours and working from home.

In some cases, I took on interns. However, at the end of the day, I know people want the benefits of full time work. I know without a doubt this is the reason because they have all told me when they leave. It is frustrating when you see a corporation who has been in existence before you were born providing a disservice to the community with full time employees only there for the pay. Even more frustrating when an established corporation is given huge amounts of money to continue this disservice. It is struggle to get started each day knowing you are genuinely helping a handful of families and know you could be helping more by now only if you started 70 years ago.

Great, so let’s talk business. Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Sapphire Therapeutic Services, Inc. is a 501(c)3 agency that can help families reach their hopes and dreams. The mission of Sapphire Therapeutic Services, Inc. is to preserve and improve the family unit for children. Whether you need drug abuse counseling, help with anxiety, family counseling, or help finding a better life, we are devoted to your choice to change. Our compassion to you is the driving force to help you make a difference. We provide the necessary training, resources, and counseling to keep families together, prevent incarceration, and promote self-improvement of children and their families.

Let’s talk about our city – what do you love? What do you not love?
I like the opportunities for diversity. Houston is so vast; you could literally start a new life simply by moving across town. I grew up here and there still so much to do. You start any hobby here even rock climbing. How is that possible?! There are no mountains here but you can rock climb. There is no snow here but there is a ski club. I have travelled the world and only saw a polo field in person off I-10. If you have an interest in something, Houston a niche for it. I dislike Houston’s disregard for nostalgia and sentiment. I see so much construction and mega mansion replacing the character that made Houston unique. Other cities keep major landmarks like Wrigley Field or Golden Gate Bridge. When I was younger, my father promised to take me to see wrestling at the Sam Houston Coliseum. It was destroyed. He took me to an Oilers game in the Astrodome but I can’t do the same with my kids. NRG is nice but my fondest memories were in the Astrodome. Every so often, I hear they want to destroy it and it breaks my heart.

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