After three years of raising funds, Detroit Heals Detroit will finally open its youth-led Healing Hub on Sunday. Sirrita Darby, executive director of Detroit Heals Detroit, said the renovated vacant house will now provide young Detroiters with collective healing from everyday traumas like housing insecurity or gun violence.
“Traumas are experienced collectively, so healing needs to be experienced collectively, as well,” said Darby, a native Detroiter and former teacher who has a doctorate in educational leadership in policy from Michigan State University.
Located on the eastside near 8 Mile and Gratiot, the Hub is focused on serving youth ages 12 to 21, specifically Black youth, but Darby says they welcome all youth who need the space. It will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. with necessities like laundry, a climate-controlled space and free coffee.
Detroit Heals Detroit has a holistic and community-based approach rather than a clinical one, which Darby described as a unique and necessary service for city youth. She said their space offers a welcoming and family-oriented approach for everyone to heal together rather than just at an individual level.
Darby, 31, co-founded Detroit Heals Detroit in 2018 with six young people under 21 to advocate for and empower youth across the city. The organization is mainly youth-led with seven staff members under 21. Some past programming included free therapy sessions and campaigning to remove police from all Detroit schools as the only school district in Michigan with its own police department. The organization raised almost $100,000 to renovate the vacant house that will now serve as a home base for its healing work with youth.
“We honestly believe you can’t heal the trauma of individuals if you’re not healing the systems that create the trauma in the first place,” Darby said.
Through the Healing Hub, Darby aims to help kids combat and heal from systems that perpetuate trauma in Detroit like economic oppression, food insecurity and police violence. In addition to holding healing sessions, she plans to offer youth-led book clubs, a community garden, a food pantry and more resources. She also sees the Hub as a place that can be responsive to emergency situations like power outages and provide space to anyone who needs it.
“I think this is just the beginning,” Darby said. “I think once we actually see the impact of this hub, there’ll be a need for us to get another one or create a bigger space to serve people in Detroit.”
Find out more about Detroit Heals Detroit’s offerings, including the free Black Joy Summer Camp, and check out the Healing Hub at its grand opening on Sunday, May 21, from 1-6 p.m. at 19510 Alcoy Ave. The free block party will have food, games, a petting zoo, a bounce house, a DJ and more.