Many people strive to achieve a balance between work life and life’s work and find great reward in it.

They may ask themselves, “how can I use my skills to make my mark while making my community better?”

In Detroit, College for Creative Studies (CCS), student Veronika Scott answered this question and made an impact not only on her community but for many Americans across the country.

In what began as a school project, Scott transformed her passion for making clothes into a venture to help those in need.

While observing the elevated homeless population on her way to school on a freezing winter morning, Scott decided to design a garment to help them combat the cold weather.

Her design, the Element S(urvival), is a coat that converts into a sleeping bag, which captures body heat released during the day to provide extra warmth during the night.

Made from wool and Tyvek donated by Michigan based company Carhartt, the garment also easily transforms into a backpack for convenient travels.

Scott talked to many homeless citizens and discovered the lack of funding for proper shelters is one of the reasons why many are forced to live outside on the streets.

Consequently, the Tyvek outer layer of the Element S acts as a repellant against water and snow without compromising its breathability.

With the successful design of the Element S, Scott founded the Empowerment Plan, a non-profit organization designed to assist more than 32,000 homeless Detroiters.

With the design in place and materials already donated, Scott gathered some of the homeless citizens she encountered and gave them employment sewing the coats together.

As a panelist in the Rust Belt to Artist Belt conference, Scott shared reflections about how revitalization efforts in rust belt cities like Detroit are being influenced by creative people.

But the reality is, you don’t have to be an artist to be a creative person.  So if you have not already answered the question in the intro above, ask yourself “how can I utilize my skillset to make my community better?”  Once you find that answer, you will find the true meaning of gratitude and perhaps help as many people as Veronika Scott.

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