The Empowerment Plan, founded by Veronika Scott, hires homeless people and teaches them how to make coats for the impoverished sufferers living on the streets.
Homelessness is a growing problem plaguing the nation. A 2019 White House Report states, more than half a million people end up on the streets every day in the United States. About 65% find refuge in shelters, the remaining (nearly 200,000 individuals) are sleeping on the streets unsheltered. In Detroit, rough sleepers shiver to withstand the 17-degree chilly weather. Owing to such harsh climatic conditions countless homeless people die every winter, especially the ones who don't possess any warm clothing. Hoping to curb this expanding issue, a nonprofit came up with an employment program that became one of the most successful initiatives.
The Empowerment Plan, founded by Veronika Scott, hires homeless people and teaches them how to make coats for the impoverished sufferers living on the streets. "This is so much bigger than anything I could have imagined," expressed 30-year-old CEO Scott. The founder herself was homeless off and on throughout her childhood and this allowed her to fully understand and find a solution for the rough sleepers. "There was a point in my upbringing where everything I personally owned could fit in a backpack," she said.
If you are uncertain what kinds of things you'd like to do with your life, please read this. So inspiring to me. https://t.co/IkdCrMkiSc— Mark Duplass (@MarkDuplass) 22 January 2020
Now, don't mistake these warm outerwear for your typical coat as they are so much more than just that. The ordinary-looking coat transforms into storage totes and full-length sleeping bags to protect the wearer against frostbites and, in extreme cases, death. But this is not the only reason why the initiative is regarded as one of the best. It's actually the transformation stories behind the scenes that has grabbed everyone's attention. According to CNN, the program has helped 100% of its homeless workers to purchase their own house within months. It has changed the lives of many including Pam Warren who discovered her expertise in stitching at the age of 48. "I'm a seamstress, that's my title. And I'm also a pocket expert," said Warren with a wide grin. "I'm so good with those pockets and so quick with them."
Warren, like many of her fellow employees, was a victim of domestic abuse. "I stayed so long because I didn't think that I could make it without him -- financially, mainly ... especially with the kids," said Warren. After leaving her husband, she was left to raise her children alone. Everything was fine until she lost her job in 2015 after suffering a severe blood clot, which unfortunately rendered her incapable of working for months at her car parts manufacturing company. After being laid off, she knew that her family would lose their sheltered home. So, she began calling up shelter homes to know if any space was available for them.
"For a long time, we went two days where we didn't (shower). We couldn't afford to bathe. My daughter was going to school, so she missed a lot of schooling because it was embarrassing, sending her to school without clean clothes and taking care of her hygiene," she continued. Soon her daughter became a target for bullies due to her lack of hygiene and began skipping school. Thus she failed in fifth grade and had to repeat. With no roof over their head, the family started living out of Warren's car and after struggling for four months, they finally moved into a homeless shelter.
There Warren learned about the Empowerment Plan. "I wanted a job, (but) it was a sewing job. I know nothing about sewing!" she chuckled. After a series of interviews, Warren landed the job. "My jaws was hurting from smiling so much," she recalled. Now, the mother has her own home and her kids are doing well in school. "I'm also back in school to get my GED," added Warren who takes pleasure in stitching the coats, especially, "just seeing them on the streets." Furthermore, she added, "Everywhere you go, you'll see people, and you'll tell them, 'Hey! I made that coat!"