The Empowerment Plan: A Charity Working on Many Fronts
The Empowerment Plan is a Detroit based business that seeks to do good for the community in several different ways. Its 24 year old CEO and founder, Veronika Scott, is an inspiring story in her own right. We recently posted a video about the business that we found so moving, the rest of the story needed to be told.
Ms. Scott attended the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, where she studied industrial design. It was a class assignment she received here that changed her life, and allowed her to change the lives of so many others. Charged to create a design to fulfill a social need, Scott turned her attention to the homeless. She set out to design a warm and utilitarian jacket, that could also convert into a waterproof sleeping bag. Her goal was to help the homeless of Detroit fill multiple needs with one item.
Working tirelessly to develop a prototype, Scott sought out people on the street to get feedback on her evolving jacket design. It was through these conversations that a very wonderful idea was born. The homeless she encountered explained that while helping them stay warm and sleep more comfortably were great and admirable goals, what they needed even more were jobs. They weren’t looking for charity as much as they were desperate for a chance to improve their own situations, to break the cycle of poverty by being given an opportunity to work hard and establish themselves.
Thus, The Empowerment Plan was born. The not-for-profit organization employs homeless women to make the coats, thus providing them with training to become full time seamstresses, and helping them gain back their independence. The idea for a multipurpose garment evolved into a multipurpose charity that warms hearts along with bodies, and gives the greatest gift of all to those in need: hope.
The child of addicts, Ms. Scott describes her situation growing up as being “set up to fail.” She worked hard and managed to earn a scholarship to attend college. The experience changed her life and opened the doors to opportunities she never dreamed possible. The beauty of her story is in the fact that she empowered herself, and overcame the odds to make her life as she knew it could be. She now pays that forward by empowering other women, giving them the chance that she had always wanted herself.
After starting The Empowerment Plan, Ms. Scott was told repeatedly that it would not succeed. Others told her that the homeless she planned to hire would be “worthless” and that the business model was doomed to fail. Years later, with constant growth and a wealth of awards, Scott has proved them wrong and shown that believing in someone goes a long way. By placing faith in the women she hires, she helps them rise to the challenge and prove to themselves and others that there is worth in every human being.
There is so much we can learn from The Empowerment Plan and its founder. Besides this message of appreciating what we have and passing on the gifts we were given to others, comes a lesson in how best to serve our community. Veronika did not simply tell the homeless in her community what they needed, or decide for them how they should best be helped; she listened to them when they asked for aid, and treated them as equals. Giving back is about just this, being attentive to the needs of others, and thinking about more than just ourselves. We should all strive to keep such an open mind and to rise to the opportunities afforded us.
This story is one children and teens should know about, so that they can seek to emulate role models like Veronika Scott. We can better ourselves and better the world around us simultaneously when we are open to the needs of other people and doing the best that we can.
For more information on the charity and the work they do, check out their site and their Facebook page. There are ways for anyone to get involved, as well as a lot to learn for anyone with their own idea or ambition to help others.
For another story about great work being done to serve those less fortunate, see “The Powerful Example of the Homeless Bus.”