Dream Center starts Share the Warmth Coat Challenge

Published 8:47 am Wednesday, November 28, 2018

NILES — The Dream Center is looking to give the gift of caring this winter season.

Starting on Nov. 26, the organization will begin fundraising for a Share the Warmth Coat Challenge to purchase specially designed coats that can also be converted into a sleeping bag. Caryn Adler, a Dream Center volunteer and treasurer for the organization, said the coats are more than average winter wear. Funds will be raised through Jan. 2. People can donate online at: crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/share-the-warmth-coat-challenge.

“Because there is no shelter here in Niles, not even a warming station, we want to do something for the homeless,” Adler said.

The Dream Center will be partnering with an organization called The Empowerment Plan, a Detroit-based nonprofit. Veronika Scott founded the organization after she was inspired by a college-level project. Scott had been looking for a way address homelessness and while conducting research, a homeless person told Scott she did not need a coat, she needed a job. According to the organization’s website, the comment spurred Scott to take action, and she started The Empowerment Plan. Through Scott’s effort, the homeless are hired to learn sewing skills and create specialized coats. The coats can be worn as regular winter wear and then can fold out into a sleeping bag position.

The Dream Center will be raising money to purchase coats created through The Empowerment Plan. For their part, the Empowerment Plan is agreeing to match up to five coats. Each coat costs $125 to sponsor.  Adler said they plan to give the coats to charity organizations or individuals that can use them.

Adler said their goal is to raise about $1,500 for the coats. She encouraged people to help the Dream Center reach their goal.

“Please know that no donation is too small; many seemingly small donations from individuals, churches, service organizations, and businesses can add up to many warm coat/sleeping bags for the homeless in our area,” she said.

Adler works for the Niles District Library as an adult services team member with a focus on community engagement. She said part of the inspiration for the Share the Warmth Coat Challenge was the need she saw from homeless people coming to use the library.

For those who receive the coats, Adler said she believes that it will send an important message.

“It will bring them to the realization that there are people that care,” Alder said. “And help them realize they have value.”

The Dream Center got its start earlier this year, after a group of volunteers got together to kick start the effort. The charity organization will seek to take on numerous goals aimed at bettering the local community. The idea is also to serve as a hub of information for those in need, connecting local resources with the people. Among their goals, Adler said the Dream Center hopes to eventually inspire a local homeless shelter.

“There are many caring people in Niles who want to help, but do not know where to begin,” Adler said. “The Share the Warmth Coat Challenge is one way to help with the immediate need while plans are made for a more permanent, long-term solution.”