Art Student Makes Coats to Provide Warmth, Jobs for Detroit’s Homeless

Veronika Scott was an art student in Detroit who took her college professor’s advice to heart.

Being told she should design something “to fill a need” in the community, Scott looked at the homeless population of the city and thought about what she could do to help.

Six years later, her personal designs are helping to both clothe and employ the homeless of Detroit, ushering in a sense of hope for a better future amongst the city’s most overlooked population.

As reported by CNN:

“In Detroit, there’s this large homeless population, and they kind of just disappear into the landscape,” Scott said. “I wanted to design for this whole population of people that we just don’t see.”

In 2010, Scott created a fully insulated, waterproof jacket that converts into a sleeping bag and knapsack. She called it the EMPWR coat.

“So many people on the streets are wearing somebody else’s trash,” said Scott, now 26. “The coat itself was meant to offer people warmth…but also to give them a little bit of pride.”

But Scott’s work was far from finished. As she handed out the coats one day, a woman in a shelter shouted, “We don’t need coats. We need jobs.”

Today, Scott and her nonprofit, the Empowerment Plan, hire homeless individuals from local shelters to help manufacture the coats. Employees receive training and other support services to help them get their lives back on track.

Since 2012, the group has made and distributed more than 15,000 free coats for the homeless nationwide and around the world.

“Today, Empowerment Plan employs 22 previously homeless parents,” Scott said. “And (they) are absolutely, mind-blowingly amazing. So if there was a weak point in my business plan, it sure as hell wasn’t me employing them.”

Head over to CNN for the full story.