September 14, 2011

White Dog and The White Dog Army
Wonderful World Wednesday

White Dog and TOWD were fascinated, after we were forgiven for leaving them all day, to hear about the various speakers at the TEDxABQ seminar last weekend. One of the speakers, Move the Mountain Leadership Center CEO, Scott C. Miller, presented a incredible view of results generated if people in the United States made a commitment to end poverty and mentor the poor. His message won him a standing ovation, but unfortunately, the numbers of homeless humans and animals are growing daily as a result of our unstable economy, lack of funding for programs, and the poor’s lack of hope or ability to help themselves. His is a long term battle.

For now, Veronika Scott’s solution is a practical approach to the coming winter and lack of shelter spaces. It is a eureka moment of solving an immediate need (keeping warm) and creating jobs for those without skills. WDA applauds this student and her vision and knows that she will make a difference that saves lives. How wonderful is that? Young people with caring hearts and fresh ideas give us hope for the future and inspire us to shed our "can't be done" attitude...sometimes a little youthful optimism goes along way in making tomorrow brighter.
How A 21-Year-Old Design Student's Sleeping-Bag Coat Could Break The Cycle Of Homelessness By Fast Company Expert Blogger Jody Turner July 5, 2011

As a design student in Detroit, Veronika Scott was keenly aware of the increasing numbers of homeless people suffering deeply during the relentless winters. At the tender age of 21, she created The Detroit Empowerment Plan not to solve homelessness, but to provide much-needed warmth to the city's 20,000 street dwellers.

From Scott's own blog:
This is my story about the humanitarian project called The Empowerment Plan. Meet the re-designed coat: Element S. It is self-heated, waterproof, and transforms into a sleeping bag at night. It is made by a group of homeless women who are paid minimum wage, fed and housed while creating these coats made for those living on the streets. The focus is on the humanitarian system to create jobs for those that desire them and coats for those that need them at no cost. The goal is to empower, employ, educate, and instill pride. The importance is not with the product but with the people.

What inspired the empowerment plan was a school project. I spent three days a week, every week, for five months working in a homeless shelter downtown. The people there became an integral part of the entire design, they were there every step of the way and tested all four prototypes. The coat that transformed from a heat-trapping system during the day into a self-heated, waterproof sleeping bag at night. But I realized that it was no use just coming up with the product without coming up with a way to get the product to the people who needed it. After spending so much time designing it with people who needed it, I just had to figure out a way that it could permanently benefit the community. I could produce some coats by myself but I really wanted to reach out to people who needed jobs.

Now the importance of the project lies not within the product, but within the people who are involved and affected by this system. Homeless people become trapped in a vicious cycle. They lose their job, then their home, and end up on the streets from 6 months to 20 years. If they get their paperwork together and manage to get a slot in a shelter they can only be there for two years. In those two years they have to get their lives together, get sober, get a job, create a savings, and find a new place to live or they end up right back on the streets. The Empowerment Plan aims to break that cycle, by giving homeless women jobs while in the shelter, so they can earn money, find a place to live, and gain back their independence for themselves and their family.


Stephen Sehi-Smith said...

What a wonderful project!

24 Paws of Love said...

All done with such thought and compassion. What a great way to help for more than just one day or two. Paws Up!!

Brian said...

That amazing Veronika is going to be someone to make a difference!

Amber DaWeenie said...

This is such a wonderful project. It shows there is still hope out there.

ra husky said...

Heya YoYo! Let's totally meet at the salad bar fur lunch! Arooooos! See you there baybee!!


Remington said...

Great project!

Sagira said...

That is a great project. Wish there were more people in the world doing great things, even if everyone just did ONE. :)

KB said...

What a great and wonderful idea. Thanks for making me smile!

Tweedles -- that's me said...

This is an awsome idea!