Empower Youth is not just about empowering youth through weekend food bags and leadership challenges. It’s also about immobilizing an army of students and adults to a call to action. It’s about asking folks to look at the person in front of them in the check-out lane a different way. Empower Youth is about taking a pause when you see a baby covered in dirt being held by a mother with a cell phone newer than your own. Empower Youth is about looking past the new ball cap with the tag still on it to see the sunken eyes of the little boy it covers. An Empower Youth advocate pays attention, builds trust, and then slowly helps bridge the gap.
Empower Youth is not two people. Empower Youth is not a leadership board of 5. It’s not one packing team of 18. It’s actually beginning to be hundreds of people–coming together, packing bags, raising funds, speaking with confidence that every dime raised is going to help students in need have the opportunity to become better.
Kenzie is a student I am able to mentor at Grant Career Center. This young lady has really got it together. She definitely has a heart for those around her. She started her own collection this past week at Grant. They are collecting hoodies for us to give to students this winter! What a joy to receive her message last week. She stood up. She spoke out. She made a difference in her own back yard.
Over the last year, Mike Nelson has become a brother to my husband and I. He started out as our “Lowe’s guy”. Little by little over the last few months we have found ourselves contacting him for more than just advice on the ranch. We’ve checked up on him and you know, he’s checked up on us. Even more incredible is the love that has grown inside of him for Empower Youth. This week he even made a surprise visit to the ranch to see a team in action packing in the very barn he remodeled with his team. Today he started his own facebook movement. He challenged his friends and family. Friends that we could never reach. Family that we don’t even know. He didn’t just ask for five to join him… he called them all out. All 1200!
We sent out a simple challenge to local businesses to add some tags on behalf of Empower Youth to their tree. These tags ask folks to bring in items for our weekend backpacks as well as for folks to donate $15 to sponsor a child for one month. In less than an hour, Advance Auto Parts of Bethel, messaged us saying they would help us! They are more than blowing dust off the box of decorations from the back room. They are breathing life into their community!
So what can you do to be our advocate?
If you like to do a sneak attack, ask your friends and family to meet you at Chipotle at 1227 W Ohio Pike Unit 1, Amelia, OH 45102 on December 3 from 4-8p. They eat. We get half the profits. You can tell them why you love Empower Youth.
Are you in charge of the holiday party for your work or organization? Perhaps you could suggest going out to MadTree Brewing Company at 3301 Madison Rd. Cincinnati, OH 45209 during the month of December instead of your usual place. Mad Tree has asked us to be their Charity of the month. The fundraiser is not based on if you drink but they have provided a place to “pitch” in some donations!
Churches like Bethel Assembly of God, Community Christian Church, Saltair Church of Christ, Bethel United Methodist Church, Mt. Carmel Christian Church, Riverhills Christian Church, and Connect Christian Church are all doing special things as advocates for Empower Youth. How did it start in those churches? Someone spoke up. Someone told the story. Bethel Assembly has provided turkeys for families, Community Christian collected special food items, Saltair and Riverhills are putting up a gift trees, BUMC is working on stockings, Mt Carmel has a special youth stocking project, and Connect is unleashing a call to action that will give all year long!
Your school can help too! The student body as well as the teachers and administrators of Lynchburg-Clay schools have made quite the impression on us! Their first delivery of almost 200 bags will occur the week after Thanksgiving but they have already had fundraisers on our behalf. We are looking forward to this new partnership. Grant Career Center was instrumental in helping complete our pillow project by tie-dying more than 300 pillows! They were all in from head to toe! Bethel-Tate Girls Softball team helped us by stuffing pillows into those tie-dyed cases and pairing them with some cute stuffed animals. A great team effort for sure!
Ready to step up? Put it in writing! Then take the bold step!