March 4 Champions Banquet

We had an incredible night March 4 celebrating our favorite stakeholders– our volunteers and donors! Nearly 160 folks came out for the grand celebration. Woodland Lakes Christian Camp catered an incredible meal. John Sinclair brought us an awesome message. There were many wonderful awards given recognizing the efforts of some pretty amazing folks. But our favorite moment by far came from the testimony of Brianna Behymer.

This is her testimony about what Empower Youth has meant to her as an intern for the last 3 years.


We called our program “Champions” because we sincerely feel that everyone who has put time and finances into the students we serve are champions. Changing the world at Empower Youth is like a relay race. We stand on the shoulders of those who came before us and we carry the baton with honor until we are ready to pass it with care to those who follow.

We are all in this together.

We would like to announce the folks we specifically thanked and awarded a special engraved Empower Youth relay baton.

Game Changer Award: Community Savings Bank, John Essen President


  • Our relationship began with Community Savings Bank at our 2016 picnic in the park. They sponsored a meal and also became our t-shirt sponsor. This alone was a huge gamechanger to not have that expense. They have done this for the last 3 years and have once again committed to 2019.
  • From those early moments, Community Savings Bank under the direction of President John Essen has continued to be our greatest cheerleader. They have opened doors for us with individuals and companies in and outside of our community.
  • In early Spring of 2017, Community Savings Bank did the unimagineable and gave EY 15.25 acres which is now called the EY Ranch. Their board began donating at that time and their donations actually have allowed us to pay the utilities for the ranch and taxes without taking from our food and education programs.
  • They changed our status from nomads packing in closets to having a real address.
  • In 2018, CSB once again surprised us with a $50,000 gift to help us repair buildings and develop our site.
  • CSB has continued to be gamechangers in the community we serve. We are working together to give students financial freedom to do big things and it starts with students trusting their hometown bank.


Thank you CSB for carrying the baton for EY and our community! You are a gamechanger.


53140421_2231218717145694_3955709628880257024_nAbove and Beyond: Elite Biomedical, Jeff Smith


  • During the summer of 2017, Elite Biomedical became a picnic provider. Bringing one of the most delicious meals to the park and an incredibly generous serving crew.
  • At the end of 2017, we had a very special meeting with Jeff Smith and Jeff Diesel from Elite Biomedical. We explained that we knew the time was coming for Empower Youth to reach out for support for the administrative work of what we do.
  • Jeff Smith immediately got behind our work and Elite Biomedical became our first and only company outside of Community Savings Bank to provide EY the funds to eventually allow Lori Conley to become the full-time director of Empower Youth.


Jeff Smith we thank you and are honored to present you with this baton for going Above and Beyond and allowing Lori Conley to dedicate full attention to the children and young families of Appalachia Ohio.


Above and Beyond: Connect Christian Church, Minister: Mike Edmisten


  • In October of 2016, EY began our relationship with Connect Christian Church. They came on specifically to sponsor 15 children in the Amelia Elementary school. What a relief for us!
  • Connect quickly became more than a weekly food bag sponsor. Their youth minister at the time helped teach our first leadership classes at Amelia Elementary. Connect continued to support our programming and encourage our work.
  • On Labor Day weekend of 2017, Connect brought our largest work team ever– 195 volunteers– to the ranch to help finish projects and pack our first weekend food bags of the season. It was very special as it was Lori Conley’s first Sunday to be the full time Executive Director of Empower Youth.
  • Constantly innovating, Connect recruited more monthly support for us from individuals in their congregation and in 2018 they spearheaded our newest school to come on board, WT Elementary. Connect donates the entire amount needed to support the bags for that school.


Connect Christian Church under the leadership of Mike Edmisten you have definitely gone above and beyond! Please don’t drop this baton because we need your aggressiveness for those in need.


53502786_2231218933812339_1597084525320470528_nDream Maker: Multi Color Corporation, Norwood


  • In the Summer of 2015, EY sent our first campers to camp. Only 50 students, but boy did they make an entrance! Many of our students didn’t even have bedding. This was a complete eye-opener for us.
  • We brought this problem to Multi-Color Corporation of Norwood. They took on the project by purchasing dream big pillows, pillowcases, and stuffed animals for all the Kindergarten students of Bethel.
  • Three years later and we have now distributed over 800 pillows and stuffed animals to the Kindergarten students of Bethel, Amelia Elementary, Withamsville Tobasco Elementary, Lynchburg-Clay, and Fayetteville Perry Schools.
  • In the meantime, for the last 3 years, Multi-Color has provided a meal each year at our picnic in the park. Over the 3 years we estimate they have served more than 1500 individuals a great chicken dinner at the park.


Multi-color, we thank you for carrying the baton and being a dream-maker!


Going the Extra Mile: Mike Nelson


  • Mike Nelson came on board the Spring of 2017 to help us refurbish an old garage into what is now Peachie’s Place.
  • From the time we met him, he has owned every project he’s ever touched at the ranch.
  • Last Summer he became invaluable to EY as Lori and Scott were tied up with her diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Mike gave his entire Summer to run our property and work with our interns and juvy kids on the ranch.
  • Not only has he sacrificed his time and finances but in the meantime he has become a most trusted friend.


Mike thank you for carrying the baton and going Above and Beyond for EY.



Lead By Example: Gail Siefert


  • The next baton says Lead By Example. Our favorite little grandma has been doing this all her life. She works for all the children of Bethel.
  • From the very start, Gail Siefert has been a fundraiser for Empower Youth. She created wreath classes where she would donate her own time and funds to allow us to use the entire registration to buy food for our children or send kids to camp.
  • Gail, we have gone through the books and through your wreath classes– you have raised more than $3500 for the children of Bethel.


Gail, we want to present you with this baton for leading by example as many folks have taken up your passion for children by watching what you do every day.


Lead By Example: Tom Haas


  • For the last two summers, Tom Haas has been at our farm with a group of Junior High campers working on tearing things up. His picture is featured on our website page where he is mentoring a young man from camp.
  • Tom your work with the students has been a blessing for them but your work has also inspired many leaders to get involved with Empower Youth by watching how you work with others.
  • This Summer, Tom along with Ken Wylie began the bathroom project. It was the longest project we have done so far. But that’s because Tom understood the project. It wasn’t about getting the bathroom finished. The project was about working with a young man named J.D.. Tom and Ken both poured countless hours into J.D. and in the process we finally were able to wave goodbye to the portalet and have a real bathroom on the ranch.


Tom, we want to present you with the Lead by Example award for the hours you have spent working side by side our students and giving them the confidence and skills to make a difference.

51071819_2210771615857071_4023652184687116288_oLeadership Impact: Betty Howell


  • Betty began our first 4-H club last year. The Empower Youth 4H club had many students go to the State Fair for competition and one of our winners won the most prestigious Clock Tower Award.
  • This year Betty took the challenge of working with the MRDD program at Bethel-Tate High School. Our proposal was to bring a 4H program to special needs students so that they could build confidence and leadership skills. With the help of Mrs. Sandker, the blessing of Mrs. Kircher, and a constant dialogue with OSU extension, we were able to start an in school Empower 4H club for these students. Each student has completed their first round of projects and had interviews with OSU extension. Every student did awesome!
  • Betty has had an impact on many of the programs we do including our Christmas event and our fundraising.


Betty Howell we thank you for carrying the Leadership Impact baton– please hold it tight because there is no one we would rather see run with this.


53563453_10219828603844849_6508068247462477824_nLeadership Impact, Sandy Marquez


  • The first time we met Sandy was when she and her family came to organize our long barn in 2017. After watching her sort, move, and come up with a plan– Scott and Lori both realized she had too much talent to be in our barn!
  • Sandy joined Lori in the leadership classes for Bethel-Tate Middle School. With Sandy’s curriculum writing skills and years of teaching experience in Columbus Public schools, Sandy took on the challenge of creating a special curriculum for leadership for our Appalachia students.
  • Now in our second year, Sandy actually wrote a grant that pays for her salary and the expenses for her work. The $25,000 grant from State Farm is a result of her efforts and hundreds of you folks voting.
  • Sandy has plans to write a second grade curriculum as well as produce a program for our 9th grade students.


Sandy, you work so hard you make us all tired. We thank you for your leadership impact on the students of Bethel Tate and are excited to see your program replicate to all our schools! Your baton is heavy but we know you are up for the challenge!


Ripple Effect: Nicole Nicodemus

Nicole was not present but we certainly have a huge love for the work she does for Juvenile Detention Center. We plan on presenting her award privately.


  • Nicole Nicodemus has made our work with the juvenile detention center one of our favorite programs on the ranch. Under her care we have seen the ripple effects of her control and grace with each student she brings to the ranch.
  • Niki constantly sacrifices for her students and works alongside them to make them better and teach them lifeskills that they have never received.


Niki, thank you for the ripple effect you are making in the lives of students that have come under your care for a second chance.


Live Oaks CareerX, Alicia Dorsey, Moneau Bialon

  •  Much like Niki, this group of ladies have brought into our lives a group of students that we love and look forward to seeing a couple of times each month.
  • The CareerX program is changing lives and we are honored to be a part of the work you are doing.
  • We thank you for continuing to pour into students who need a hand up. We love you for loving them. We know the ripples of your work will not just be changing their lives but one day the lives of their children.

Alicia and Moneau please carry this baton tightly just as you hold dear the students you lead every day. We can’t wait to see how the CareerX students run their lives with excellence, largely because of your love for what you do.



We also had a special Chuck Norris Award for Brad Crowe.


  • We call it the Chuck Norris award because Brad has been lifting and loading 60-80lb totes of food almost every Tuesday since school began.
  • He often is loading 12 totes into a mini-van contorting himself every which way to shove these totes in. We are amazed he hasn’t presented us with a bill for a hernia.
  • After one week of Scott loading this last month we have since changed the way we load and have stopped using those heavy totes.


Thank you Brad… here’s a a special Chuck Norris calendar– we know you have a bright future ahead and want you to be able to keep up with it.


The entire night was stretched between points of humor, love, and a deep appreciation for all involved in empowering our youth. For those who couldn’t be there, we hope to see you next year. For those who attended, we thank you for your time.

To all, please keep believing in what we do. Your support is reaching more students than ever before.

Service Results for 2018:

Picnics in the Park: 7,500 meals

Summer Food, Summer Fun: 67meals

Weekend Food bags: 21,650

Dream Big Pillows: 423

Camp Scholarships: 153

Interns: 19

Students on the property: 1400

Packing and work teams: 134

Cars parked: 51,000


Executive Board

President, Samantha Bock

Vice President, Jeff Diesel

Secretary, Pam Mansell

Treasurer, James Hatch

Advisory Board, Scott Wedemeyer

Advisory Board

Scott Wedemeyer

Sherry Aufdenkamp

Stephanie Beckelhymer

Chris Clark

Alicia Dorsey

Betty Howell

Ginger Johnson

Pam Mansell

Sandy Marquez

Sheila Miller

Mike Nelson

Joshua Roddy

Melanie Rubenstein

Christy Winter

Stephanie Young


Please check out our Empower Youth @empoweryouth facebook page to see more pictures from the evening.

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