At first glance, it’s a straightforward idea. Coats for the homeless that double as sleeping bags. Sounds like a good idea, right?
It has been very successful. But sometimes, success means new challenges.
The good work the Empowerment Plan is doing and the demand for it means they’re bursting at the seams of their current location.
If you’ve never heard of the Empowerment Plan, since 2011 more than 15,000 of those special coats have been distributed throughout forty states and seven Canadian providences. Founder Veronika Scott created the coat for a school project at the College for Creative Studies (CCS) in Detroit.
The project is more than just making a coat. The coat, though useful, is a stepping stone to address a much bigger problem. The power of the coat isn’t just the warmth it provides, but the opportunities making them creates.
Empowerment Plan hires people who are living in a shelter to produce the coats. The organization helps them get back on their feet, provides additional training and educational programs.
It takes roughly an hour and fifteen minutes to make one of the coats, and the team of seamstresses can currently make around 35 to 40 coats in a day.
The Empowerment Plan works with numerous homeless shelters and organizations to help get homeless people coats around the country. Sponsors can purchase coats for $100 and they are then distributed.
They have been at Ponyride in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood since they started, but they are running out of room. Training is performed at a different location, and they have a separate warehouse for additional coat storage. They would like for the entire operation to be under one roof.
They have also started making plans to have a limited release of coats for the public to purchase. For years they have had requests from hikers, campers, and even doomsday preppers to produce a coat that they could purchase.
While they do not know when the coat will be released or how much it will be to purchase it, Cassie Coravos, the Communications and Project Manager of The Empowerment Plan, said they think a limited run will be released next year. They need to move into a larger facility, and hire more employees before making these coats.
That is where an upcoming fundraiser comes in.
On Thursday, November 10 The Empowerment Plan’s 4th Annual Fundraiser will be held at the Garden Theater. It will be an evening filled with food, drinks, and stories of the seamstresses who work at The Empowerment Plan. This year they are hoping to raise $150,000.
Tickets for the event are affordable for a fundraiser. Each ticket is $40 per person. They do have a VIP ticket that is $125 per person. For the VIP ticket, you are sponsoring a coat for a homeless individual, so you’re doing a lot of good for the price.
This is not a fancy event. Come dressed as you are.
“This isn’t a big fancy fundraiser we want everyone in our community to come because they are the ones who support us and we want them to learn what we do. Our seamstresses will go up on stage and tell their stories,” said Coravos. It’s really an opportunity to learn about what we do in terms of coat production and programing but really to get to know who we are and who are employees are.”
The fundraiser starts at 6:30 PM and goes until 10:00 PM. The Garden Theater is located at 3929 Woodward Avenue, Detroit Michigan 48201.