I recently read an article about how police in Juneau, Alaska, started a citywide kindness campaign this year, with businesses, government agencies and other groups choosing particular weeks throughout the year to shower the community with kindness. Ideas range from volunteers visiting local senior homes, to distributing care packages to those in need and even paying for a stranger’s meal. What a wonderful way to spread compassion and generosity!
Today, let’s take a page from the Juneau Police’s playbook. Set aside grudges and annoyances. Resist the urge to be passive-aggressive when your co-worker takes every last drop from the office coffee pot without making more java. Offer a friendly smile to those you pass on the street. Spread whatever version of kindness most speaks to you. And then do it again tomorrow.
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 40 Percent
As of 2015, more than half a million people were homeless in the United States. Women make up about 40 percent of America’s homeless, and they often endure unique and heartbreaking challenges, like finding access to menstruation products, struggling with pregnancy complications, avoiding domestic violence and dealing with serious personal safety dangers.
What’s worse, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, one in 194 people in the U.S. will experience homelessness at some point during a yearlong period, and women and families are the fastest-growing segment of the homeless population, with 85 percent of homeless families headed by single women.
WOMAN TO WATCH: Veronika Scott, Founder and CEO of The Empowerment Plan
Sadly, homeless women don’t often have a platform to voice their struggles and needs. That’s where tireless advocates like Veronika Scott come in. She created a remarkable humanitarian organization whose entire goal is to stop the cycle of homelessness in her community.
Veronika’s Detroit-based nonprofit, The Empowerment Plan, revolves around a simple yet life-changing product for the homeless: a self-heated, waterproof coat that transforms into a sleeping bag or over-the-shoulder bag. Veronika hires single parents from local shelters to work as full-time seamstresses, and provides them with training and a stable income, which is absolutely crucial to finding permanent housing and a path toward secure independence.
Veronika came up with the exceptional idea for the EMPWR Coat while in college, when she was challenged with creating a solution to a community problem in Detroit. Realizing she could do even more to empower the homeless, that effort to create her very first coat grew into The Empowerment Plan, which, since 2011, has distributed more than 15,000 free coats to the homeless nationally and worldwide, and provided gainful employment to dozens of previously homeless men and women.
The company thrives on transparency. Visit The Empowerment Plan website and you’ll see the photos of every employee and even discover that each life-saving coat costs $100 to manufacture. Website visitors are encouraged to sponsor a coat, which covers the costs of labor, materials and overhead expenses. EMPWR Coats are then distributed to those most in need.
Veronika explains that in addition to providing warmth and shelter from the elements, this coat gives homeless folks a little bit of pride. Last year, CNN dubbed Veronika a CNN Hero, and in their video, one homeless man explains that his EMPWR Coat is his most valuable possession. Indeed, he wouldn’t have survived without it.
Veronika is living proof that if you have one small idea and a commitment to helping and empowering others, you can truly change the lives of those in your community and beyond.
QUITE THE QUOTE
A common phrase often heard at The Empowerment Plan is “share the warmth.” Whether it’s sharing a coat or a hug, today, offer something to someone who really needs it. As Aesop said:
“No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.”
This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.