Last month we shared the story of Veronika Scott, who founded The Empowerment Plan, a Detroit nonprofit that hires and trains homeless women to manufacture coats that cleverly fold into sleeping bags. The organization distributes the coats to other homeless people, free of charge. Today, we go deeper into the lives of the women Veronika employs, sharing their transformative stories.
Before she joined The Empowerment Plan, Toya James was living in a shelter with her daughter, unable to find work and saddled with college debt from an unfinished degree. Since she began working for Veronika in 2012, Toya has bought a car, moved into an apartment, and started to take classes again. “The Empowerment Plan has given me a second chance at life,” Toya said. When she finishes school, Toya hopes to use her business administration certificate to help The Empowerment Plan grow, giving back to women who face similar challenges as she once did. “I’ve learned how to strive for the best and be the best that I can,” Toya said. “My drive comes from my daughter. I want to be a positive role model for her. The memory of my mother also drives me because I know she wants me to be the best that I can be.”
Ebonie Sharper has an inspiring comeback story of her own. She studied chemistry at Wayne State University for two years, but when the recession hit, Ebonie lost her job and landed in a shelter with her son. With Veronika’s help, she now has steady work, a home, and another child on the way. “I never thought I would be sitting at a sewing machine,” Ebonie said. “The Empowerment Plan helped me gain my independence back.”
Watch and share the stories of The Empowerment Plan to join GOOD + Gap in celebrating true tales of women bringing us one stitch closer to a brighter tomorrow. #WomenInspire