It’s a wonder no one had thought of it before: Invent a coat that converts into a blanket or sleeping bag—and then give it to homeless people. That was Veronika Scott’s idea in 2011 for a design class at Detroit’s College for Creative Studies. It’s an idea that became real—The Empowerment Plan—and has morphed into a larger mission: to help the city’s homeless women reclaim their lives.
Sewing with purpose
Veronika says the mission serves a dual purpose. “We are not only equipping women with the skills that they need to become independent...but we are also creating a product that directly impacts the same population we are hiring from.” The Empowerment Plan offers a microloan for housing, transportation or education to each woman hired to sew coats. So far, 18 seamstresses have moved out of the homeless shelter within their first three to six months of employment, according to Veronika.
In 2013, her group distributed 3,500 coats and an estimated 5,000 in 2014. Angel Tyler, a mother of two, lost her job in 2013 and ended up in a Detroit shelter. Her new job as a seamstress at The Empowerment Plan gives her a life and a future.
“I have received my self-worth, confidence and security back,” Angel says. “I am able to provide for my children and to use what I have been through in life to help uplift others. I can show my children that they can be more than where they have come from. The Empowerment Plan has given back to me what I felt was lost.”