According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, there are more than 500,000 people in the US experiencing homelessness on a given night. This means that about 17 people out of every 10,000 people in the country don’t have a stable roof over their heads.
A nonprofit seeks to overturn that statistic with an innovative solution: hiring homeless people to create coats that double as sleeping bags to keep those in need warm.
The nonprofit’s founder, Veronika Scott, came up with the idea of designing the double-purpose coats during her years as a design student at Detroit’s College. Her project theme was to design something that was going to make an impact in Detroit, so she chose to help the homeless population.
After working closely with people at her local homeless shelter, Scott came up with the EMPWR coat — an innovative, weather-resistant coat that can be transformed into a sleeping bag or be worn as an over-the-shoulder bag. She later continued to work together with the homeless community to improve the coat’s design, but soon realized that she could do more to help break the cycle of homelessness.
As a result, she started providing jobs and other support to those living on the streets. She began to hire and train homeless women to manufacture the coats, and soon enough, she was running a nonprofit organization that is now called the Empowerment Plan.
Since it started almost a decade ago, the organization has created 90 jobs, impacted 275 children, and distributed 50,000 coats to keep the homeless warm. The nonprofit’s two-year employment model has enabled those who work there to move out of a homeless shelter within less than six weeks. “No one has returned to homelessness once we’ve hired them,” the website boldly claims.
As the cold continues to creep in across the US, Scott is about to take on an eight-city journey to deliver 700 EMPWR coats from Detroit to Boston and more. And the good news is that you can help the nonprofit scale its impact even further by going on its website and sponsor a coat for the homeless.