Maria Riggio wrote -
My name is Maria A. Riggio and I am incredibly blessed in my life. I was given the honor of serving my country as a member of the U.S. Air Force (I am now a disabled Air Force Veteran). I'm a strong, passionate, professional, and philanthropic woman, currently and proudly working at Exelon Corporation. My time in the military afforded me the opportunity to receive my A.A.S from the Community College of the Air Force, my B.A.S in Operational Management and my M.S. in Information Management, both from Arizona State University. I have an amazing boyfriend, a great family, wonderful friends and some of the craziest dogs! All that said, there's a sadness that I'm faced with daily.
Nearly every day, I drive in and out of downtown Baltimore, to and from my job...to and from my home. Without fail, I witness the reality of people forced to homelessness. I don't know their stories; I don't know their circumstances. All I know is what I see. One would have to TRY to not see the innumerous amounts of homeless people in Baltimore. It's heartbreaking. And as I make my way to my warm home and my happy family, it's hard to fathom how it must feel to be homeless, especially during an East Coast winter. Temperatures drop to low or freezing and the weather is erratic with rain, snow, and bitter cold winds. As so many of us are preparing for the winter solstice and our year-end holidays, the homeless are trying to survive it. What if, for $100, you could help one person survive?
According to Health Care for the Homeless, Inc. – at least 3,000 people in Baltimore will suffer from homelessness on any given night, tallying to over 30,000 people a year. Throughout Maryland, over 50,000 people will experience homelessness annually. According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, in 2015 there were about 990 homeless Veterans, representing 12% of the total homeless count. But it is likely higher than this average, as these averages are compiled from information in a bi-annual census report, emergency and transitional shelter data and records of those who were turned away from shelters. Truth be told, there's no way to know the exact number of people who are experiencing homelessness in Baltimore.
Enter The Empowerment Plan (http://www.empowermentplan.org/about). The Empowerment Plan hires individuals to manufacture coats designed to meet the needs of those in the homeless community. The durable EMPWR Coat transforms into a sleeping bag at night and an over- the-shoulder bag when not in use. Furthermore, The Empowerment Plan hires folks from local shelters and provides them with training and full-time employment as seamstresses so that they can earn a stable income, find secure housing, and regain their independence!
Friends, let's make a difference!! I could not be more drawn to this. It is a fundamental passion of mine! Let's be socially responsible and sensitive towards the environment we reside in; love your homeless neighbor as you love yourself and provide them some help. Please join me in this movement. Every $100 provides one coat to help a homeless person survive this season. ALL donations will help!! Thank you so much for the time and consideration.
Sincerely, Maria A. Riggio