On the surface, it seemed like an unlikely pairing – a nonprofit that works to employ residents with disabilities collaborating with a nonprofit community action agency to produce a public service announcement (PSA) about utility assistance.

Yet that’s just what happened earlier this year when SNAP signed on Skils’kin Productions to film an educational video about SNAP’s Energy Assistance program. The finished product is a warm and engaging look at the steps to access help with a power bill, clocking in at just under three minutes.

“We wanted to pick up on the culture of SNAP and represent the Energy Assistance program as it is,” said Skils’kin Marketing Manager Brad Plummer. “It’s a great program that helps people when they need it. We wanted to get that across in the messaging.”

The PSA depicts a family at home, playing a board game in their living room. Kids are laughing. Parents are smiling. Another scene portrays a couple at their dining room table, talking over dinner. No one is cold. No one appears deprived.

“We wanted to show the results of this program,” Plummer said. “It helps families to be together, to help people be happy and secure.”

Various SNAP employees also have parts in the production. On the energy side, Tammy Allen, Ray Sailas and Talesha Roberson describe the process of accessing assistance while SNAP Administrative Operations Specialist Jalina Zinn shares the story of her family being helped by the program.

“They were fantastic, every one of them,” said Skils’kin’s Vice President of Marketing Mark London. “We asked open-ended questions and they were each articulate and passionate talking about the work they do.”

In addition to social media and YouTube, the PSA has been aired on Community Minded TV, KHQ and the city of Spokane’s CityCable 5.
The project was the latest in Skils’kin Productions’ ongoing efforts to provide marketing services to both nonprofits and the private sector. From photography to sound to video editing and more, the enterprise has been functioning for four years now, with impressive results.

“We want to get the product out there that people want,” said London.

True to the Skils’kin mission, the production company involves those with disabilities in the work. London tells the story of one young man with autism who learned various platforms through Skils’kin Productions and now works in video design for Microsoft.

“Our goal is to find them a job,” London says.

The roots of Skils’kin go back to 1970 when family members of adults with disabilities collaborated with Spokane business leaders to establish the Pre-Vocational Training Center. In 2004, the name transitioned to Skils’kin, a Native American word meaning “a place where a person goes to seek personal identity and self-empowerment.” The agency now has a presence in Washington, Montana, Wyoming and Oklahoma.

Skils’kin Productions has partnered on projects with The Arc of Spokane, Embrace Washington, Rotary, Steps for Autism and Shriners Hospital, among others.

“We’re about creating change and opening minds,” London said. “We want to move beyond labels. We are focused on giving people without a voice, a voice. Maybe, with proper messaging, you can bring those barriers down.”