Photo by Brian Kelly
The Empowerment Plan is a nonprofit organization in Detroit, Michigan founded by a student who was inspired through a school project.
Specially designed coats that convert into sleeping bags are created for the homeless. In warmer months, the waterproof, hybrid garment can be used as an over the shoulder bag. Cordura fabric is created by donated insulation from places like GM motors, giving the coat tremendous warmth that saves lives on the frigid streets of Detroit, and the 40 other states and 7 Canadian providences the non-profit has been able to reach. Since 2011, over 15,000 coats have been distributed.
But the concept digs far deeper than simply distributing coats. Those who hand make EMPWR coats were once dwelling on the streets and in the shelters of Detroit, struggling to care for themselves and their children. The Empowerment Plan has worked alongside the The Coalition on Temporary Shelter to hire its 39 employees, who now have a home to call their own. Humble Design, another Detroit-based non-profit, sponsors employees by providing the things they need for their new space. Other organizations and companies work to bring education, childcare and many other vital resources to workers, helping to brighten and secure their future.
Jessica West, a young mother, found herself homeless and out of options after an unexpected pregnancy. This beautiful young woman moved her family to Detroit, where she, her partner, and children all slept in the car. After finding themselves in a shelter, Jessica was introduced to The Empowerment Plan. She interviewed with Veronica Scott, the founder, who called her the next day with a job offer. Her future is bright; she now has a home, a job as a Production Specialist, and is pursuing education at Bay Path University. Jessica wants to continue with the organization to help them grow. “I want to help people and change the world. For me, being one of those people basically out on the street, it’s like I’m giving back to another me,” Jessica beautifully states in this video for the organization.
More homeless individuals will be employed in the near future, and the organization is looking toward expanding far beyond Detroit, after they are sure the foundation in their current location is completely stable. The Empowerment Plan envisions retail stores that will provide jobs for hundreds more individuals who just need a chance.
Individual sponsors like you and I can fully fund the resources required to create one coat, for $100. It's a small price to pay to provide someone with shelter, warmth, and the thought of knowing someone cares. Donors can also help fund education, childcare and food.
The Empowerment Plan is an innovative company that is truly targeting the root of the homeless problem, which is an under recognized issue that needs our attention. These men and women have fallen into unfortunate circumstances, tossing them into a nearly impossible pit to crawl out of. Everyone needs a helping hand at some point in their lives. And I can't think of a more impactful way to gradually get these deserving individuals into homes, jobs, education programs and fulfilling lives. In the words of The Empowerment plan, "Homelessness should not be a life sentence."
Karyn Wofford is a type 1 diabetic, EMT and Certified Wellness Specialist. For years she has educated herself on wellness and natural, wholesome living. Karyn’s goal is to help people be the healthiest they can be while living fun, happy lives.