Tyvek Innovative Uses Blog, by Material Concepts

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Empowerment Plan - Tyvek blankets for the Homeless

I came across Veronika Scott's blog called The Empowerment Plan and was thoroughly moved. Not only has she organizing making a coat/blanket for homeless people in Detroit, she's employed a group of homeless women who will be paid minimum wage, fed and housed to create these coats for those living on the streets. We asked Veronika to do a guest post here and hope that others might adopt a similar plan in their city. The Empowerment Plan is one that needs as much exposure as possible. The work Veronika is doing touches the people’s hearts who read about it. I live in Philadelphia. One thing we have in common with Detroit is a huge homeless problem and it never seems to improve. I am sure there are people like Veronika here in Philly that would benefit from reading her story and learning more about The Empowerment Plan.

The following guest post was written by Veronika Scott:

I want you to imagine the coldest day you can ever remember, the biting wind chilling you to your core. Now imaging spending your whole day, from morning to night wondering endlessly though the city, with no home, no bed, and no warm cup of coffee at the end of the road.

This is reality for over 32,000 Detroiters and because of this, the shelters that you would turn to are too overwhelmed and under supported to take you in.

The problems facing Detroit homeless people:
The struggling Detroit economy has resulted in a major lack of funding that has resulted in Detroit shelters becoming too overwhelmed.

To better understand the struggles and needs of homeless people, I volunteered at a local shelter. Neighborhood Service Organization provides a place to warm up in the winter and offers food, and other services for the homeless, but no beds. I worked one-on-one with the individuals there, three times a week every week for 4 months. From this I was able to recognize the pertinent needs and challenges of this group and began to develop what has now come to be called The Empowerment Plan.

What everyone needs in the winter is a coat but for those with no home, your coat is also your shelter. I began designing a coat that would capture the users body heat generated during the day, for extra warmth later at night when the coat doubles as a sleeping bag. I wanted the end product to be constructed by people; homeless, abused, and veterans, of the Cass Community Social Services. Those making the coats will be paid minimum wage, given full-time housing, and fed. The coat was named Element S. This coat is made of Tyvek and wool or synthetic fibers. The Tyvek is used on the exterior as a water and heat barrier. The wool or synthetic fibers are used for the interior since their hollow fibers are great for insulation.

It is designed to become obsolete. I am not advocating living on the street. I want it to do more than just keep them warm but to also teach these people new skills so they can feel a sense of pride and know that they are capable of putting their skills to work to gain employment and provide for themselves a better life.

With immense support and help from The College for Creative Studies, Carhartt, Cass Community Social Services, copywriter Matthew Arnold, and Jody Turner I have been able to begin the production of 25 Element S Coats before the end of this winter season.

Contact at veronikascott27@gmail.com
veronikascott on twitter


Big thanks to Veronika Scott for this guest blog post. Image used here with permission, Photo credit to Brittany Thomasson.

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posted by Douglas Kohn, www.MaterialConcepts.com at


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