Groups combating homelessness hand out sleeping bag coats

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Mel Trotter Ministries, the Empowerment Plan and Chevrolet teamed up on Saturday to give out 150 coats that turn into sleeping bags to those experiencing homelessness in Grand Rapids.

“We need to understand that homelessness is not a defining characteristic,” said Veronika Scott, the founder and CEO of the Detroit-based nonprofit Empowerment Plan.

Scott has seen firsthand what it’s like to go through hard times.

“Both my parents struggled with addiction and poverty and it is something that is deeply personal to me,” she said.

Scott wants people to know that homelessness is something that could happen to anyone.
“Homelessness is a thing that most people are afraid of. In their mind, everyone feels like they’re so much further away from it,” Scott said.

“The truth is, we need to thank them because they are giving us the opportunity to be a blessing,” Dennis Van Kampen, the president and CEO of Mel Trotter Ministries, said. “I walked into my closet and I had a choice of which coat to wear and many people don’t have that choice. So how can we say, ‘I don’t need to have three or four coats when someone doesn’t have any?'”

He and Scott want to inspire others to step up and help others and make a change in their communities, whether it be big or small.

“If every single viewer could do something to make a difference for those less fortunate, we actually could turn around the flow of homelessness,” Van Kampen said.

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