In Detroit, Michigan stands an old production facility. Abandoned and neglected for years, “Ponyride” (as the building is called), was purchased and refurbished by Phillip Cooley, a Detroit entrepreneur with a new idea in mind. The space functions as a work base for artists and organizations, such as The Empowerment Plan – a class project that became something more and is now helping homeless people around Detroit.
Veronika Scott had the idea during a class at College for Creative Studies in Detroit. What if there were a way to keep the homeless warm during the day and night? Her idea was born in the form of a coat that transitions into a sleeping bag for nighttime, as well as a bag for easy transportation.
However, her goal for the project changed when one homeless woman informed her, “Your coats don’t matter, jobs matter. We need jobs, not coats” according to an interview with Scott on abcNEWS.
Scott realized that she needed to make more of a difference and The Empowerment Plan was created- employing homeless women from Detroit, paying them above minimum wage and helping them reestablish themselves, all while creating coats, at no cost, to individuals who need them.
“We believe in giving second chances to those who want it, and providing warmth to those who need it” reads The Empowerment Plan mission statement.
Their goal for 2014 is to produce 6,000 coats, through contributions from individuals, companies, and donations from General Motors (who provide the insulation for the coats) and other clothing companies.
At the moment the coats cost 100 dollars, but donations of any amount are graciously welcomed.
Tennille Smith, a seamstress for The Empowerment Plan for over six months, regained her independence after being hired and has plans to move into her own place with her four children.
“When you know better you do better and it starts with empowering yourself” Smith states.
To find out more about The Empowerment Plan, or to make a donation, visit their website.