Recently, a colleague approached me regarding current events, this blog, and the need for training regarding tolerance and the safe management of people while in crisis. He asked that I mention the behavioral intervention training we receive and how our training teaches us to work with those in crisis using communication skills and active listening instead of force. We spoke of tolerance, listening, and how we train to safely control a situation.

As I thought of this…my day began.

And on that day
I read of a child we had nurtured, watched grow, and eventually transitioned into adulthood absent of the foster care system. A young adult, full of desire, dreams, and hope. Only to be brutally assaulted on her birthday in a parking lot far from home.

On that day
A little one—fragile and unknown to earth—spends his first months of life in an ICU as caseworkers, family, and care providers watch and pray day and night.

On that day
The news reported a child with a toy gun was shot in a park.

On that day
Our teens in Independent Living head into a day filled with uncertainty about what their future holds.

On that day
I kiss my son’s forehead as I too watch him head into the same.

On that day
I struggle to understand. And as I write I find difficulty finding words. How can I connect what my eyes are seeing, what my heart was feeling, and what my friend was saying?

My thought is this: make it simple. Make it relevant. Make it personal and important. Such as…inhaling oxygen is equal to life.

When I was young I gasped for air as light hit my face
I grew as abuse stole dreams from my brothers
I loved when confusion said to run
And when father passed he held his chest as his heart fought against the desire for air.

As a social worker, in our line of work, the pain of abuse and rejection relentlessly pushes the spirit to exhale.

Yet with proper training, intervention, tolerance, and care, we listen, we learn, and we nurture each other. And in doing so, we provide release, giving room for the body to inhale the breath of hope.

As I think of my friend, the importance of what he said, and the event I witnessed on that day – I believe we need to fully understand and respect the following as a universal signal for help and change:

“I Can’t Breathe”

Are you interested in supporting a child? Please reach out to us at and (888) 625-8669.

Tom KrolickiThomas Krolicki, LMSW, ACSW, CAADC, is Vice President of Development and Community Based Programs at Wolverine Human Services. Tom has over 28 years of administrative and clinical service experience with a special focus in policy and program development, legislative action, and advocacy for children and families involved with Michigan’s Child Welfare, Juvenile Justice, and Mental Health Systems. Tom is also highly invested in the development of new social workers and is a field placement advisor with several Universities and Colleges.