|Veronika Scott wears The Empowerment Plan’s sleeping bag coat|
As we drive through Detroit, on the surface I see a city that’s been abandoned by its residents, filled with poverty and crime. But when we stop and meet store owners, artists and women who went from being homeless to employed, I see a city that’s energized with entrepreneurship, hipster creativity and potential. Suddenly I understand what Veronika Scott, the 24-year-old who is sitting in the driver’s seat, often called “the crazy coat lady,” means when she says, “I love Detroit.”
Veronika is empowering Detroit with a disruptive business model. She’s the CEO and Founder of The Empowerment Plan, a non-profit organization that employs homeless women and trains them to become full-time seamstresses who produce coats that turn into sleeping bags which are given to homeless individuals across the nation. She doesn’t just employ these women — she educates and equips them with the professional skills and knowledge needed to compete in Detroit’s new economy and evolving job market. “As this city continues to grow, we cannot forget about or leave behind those that have seen Detroit through its roughest time and are still out of work,” says Veronika. “We currently have 13 seamstresses working full-time at The Empowerment Plan and most of them have been able to transition out of the shelter system into their own home or apartment. We believe in giving second chances to those who want it, and providing warmth to those who need it.” (Disclosure: I am on the board of the Empowerment Plan.)
As I see more of Detroit, I ask Veronika, “Can you name five women (transgenerational) who are also passionate about saving Detroit, women who are making a difference, women we probably don’t know about, but should? I want to know what they think needs to be fixed and what they’re doing to fix it.” Following are Veronika’s picks, starting with their top 10 list of things that Detroit needs to fix:
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