Empower Youth

Empower Youth Ribbon Cutting

EY ribbon cutting

The EY Ranch Ribbon Cutting

EY Ranch Address:

2800 State Route 125, Bethel, OH 45106


Our ribbon cutting for the EY Ranch will be October 27 at 3:30pm! Mark it on your calendar to attend. In case you’ve missed our progress, check out a little about our property below and then come for a great celebration on October 27.

We have a real address! Due to the overwhelming gift from Community Savings Bank, in April 2017, Empower Youth Ranch came into being and our work found a home. The ranch is a work in progress and we are thrilled to say it is progressing FAST!


Here are some of the plans for the ranch:



The beginning clean out of the packing barn… May 2017

Peachie’s Place, a packing barn for all our weekend food bags and an area to store frozen food for our Summer picnics. This project has had many hands to bring it to useability: Lowe’s, Sardinia Concrete, KangaRoof, RiverHills Church, Connect Church, and Loveland Christian Church are just few of the heavy hitters involved in this project.


The first packing in the almost completed barn!- September 2017



The packing barn gets her name– Peachie’s Place. This is named after a long time advocate for students in Clermont County, Peachie Glassmeyer who passed away in February  2017.









Long Barn… not even started… but getting the supplies on hand!

The Long Barn, not an official name but definitely a place that has potential. Our goals include changing barn abused as a garage into a grand hall to host community groups, receptions, poverty education and service learning workshops, as well as a few “Pay-What-You-Feel” cafe nights.  Thanks to very benevolent couple in Clermont County we already have half of the insulation for this remodel as well as knotty pine ordered for the interior.




The Art Barn, as it is called today, is the home of our current art program. We were blessed with addition of Master Artists from the Parsons School of Design in New York coming to take residence in Bethel specifically to pour their talent into the culture and children of Bethel. Their goal is to not do art for art’s sake but to do art as a way to connect students to the history and culture of our once farming town. It really is a perfect match. Our artists will be working with us for one year. You can read more about their work on their blog Soil Series.





Long Barn Project Manager: Natalie Powers

The Horse barn, is our last standing structure in the barn yard and along with the Long Barn has much potential. Our project manager, Natalie Powers, is a junior at Bethel High School and is in charge of bringing life into these neglected bones. Our biggest goal was just cleaning it up and repairing from years of abuse. The newest structure built in 2010, has definitely seen better days but with the help from many different work teams it is coming together. We hope to board a couple of goats, some chickens, and some 4-H projects, but there is still much dreaming to do for this structure.


The tearing down of the old barn… When we arrived on the ranch for the first time, we loved this old barn because of her character. But it wasn’t too long until we realized she was just too old and dangerous to leave standing and unfortunately the work to keep her going would have been to costly for our group. We are thankful to the many groups that came in to help tear her down piece by piece. Her first lean-to went to scrap when the Miami Valley Christian Academy showed up on a work day and the rest of her was laid to rest after a week of Junior High Discipleship Camp from Woodland Lakes made us their work project.


This article will be updated often! Check back 🙂

EY site update coming…

We have so much to share, please check back for an update to all we are doing this Fall.

Here are just a few things to nibble on:

  • Lori Conley is now full time with Empower Youth. She and her husband Scott will be concentrating on building relationships with those we serve as well as those who serve with us. Please help us raise an admin budget to support them. Currently they are making this leap with only Scott’s income.
  • Our first weekend food bags roll out next week! Our first packing for the season is Sunday.
  • The ranch doesn’t even look like the same place and it’s less than 6 months since we received it as a donation from Community Savings Bank.
  • Lowe’s has nearly finished Peachie’s Place, our packing barn. It’s beautiful!
  • Over 1199 volunteer hours were sacrificially given to park cars at the ATP Western Southern Open to help us send more than 100 students to camp!
  • Our Soil Series art classes for the Fall start this Saturday. They will run every Saturday from 10a-1p with guided art projects and continue til 6p with open art hours in our newly renovated art barn.



Help us put smiles on children’s faces this fall. Donate at  https://empoweryouth.me/donate-now/ or volunteer with us! Sign your group up to volunteer at volunteer.empoweryouth.gmail.com


Community Studio

ey artistsCommunity Studio

When Francesca, Hillary, and Matt, contacted EY earlier this year, we truly had no idea what it would look like to host these amazing artists at the ranch.  Boy, have we been blown away by their work ethic, their amazing talent, and their spirit! They are offering studio labs starting this week for all ages. Stop by for one of the experiences below.

This is a snippet from their web page. You can find out more about them and their goals by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.


Community Studio is a free art program for all ages held in our Studio/Lab at the Empower Youth Ranch.

As part of SOIL SERIES: A Social Drawing, we wanted to build a safe space for new ideas in the heart of Bethel, and our Community Studios offer a dedicated time and place for creativity. Led by the artists of SOIL SERIES together with a team of Empower Youth interns, Community Studios invite participants to broaden their definition of art and follow new pathways toward creating.

We are very excited to announce our summer schedule! If you or your child would like to participate, please contact us at soilseriesbethel@gmail.com.


COMMUNITY STUDIO: DRAWING – Led by Francesca Fiore and Hillary Wagner

Mondays starting July 17th from 10 am – 12 pm

  • What is a drawing? In COMMUNITY STUDIO: DRAWING we will consider this question as we discover new materials and methods for making drawings. All ages are welcome! No experience required!


COMMUNITY STUDIO: “A Million Ways to Make a Poem” – Led by Matthew Kosinski

Tuesdays starting July 18th from 6 pm – 7:30 pm (no workshop July 25th)

  • Explore the many possibilities for poetry with poet Matthew Kosinski! Each session will focus on a new way of thinking about poetry. *Ages 13 and up* No experience required!



Wednesdays starting July 19th 10 am – 12 pm

  • Do you love to make things with your hands? Experience the physical side of artmaking with sculptor Hillary Wagner. All ages are welcome! No experience required! 


COMMUNITY STUDIO: OPEN STUDIOS – Thursdays starting July 20th 10 am – 6 pm

  • Bring your ideas and your imagination with you to the EY Ranch on Thursdays. Francesca and Hillary will be there every Thursday to help bring your projects to life. Just want to chat about art? That’s fine too! All are welcome! 


Want the full scoop check out: https://soilseriesbethel.wordpress.com

Big News!

We’ve come a long way!!! In 2015, our first picnic in the park had more volunteers than we had “pick-nickers”! We served 3000 meals that summer. Last year, we served 4000 summer meals. 1 meal = 1 connection. 4000 meals = 4000 connections = community!

We believe in community! We believe community changes lives. Our hearts cannot contain the news– our executive directors, Lori and Scott Conley are now raising an administrative budget to become our full-time leadership! Lori recently resigned from her position as Children’s Minister at Community Christian Church in order to devote all her focus to EY and her family. The money for this endeavor is not in our current budget. We have always prided ourselves on a low to no overhead cost; however, we are growing and in order to expand our weekend food bag program and be more present in our locals schools through leadership training, we are now raising funds specifically for Scott and Lori’s salary in addition to our regular programming funds. As Lori and Scott raise the funds for their salary and prepare to move on our EY Ranch campus, we ask that you continue to share their story with new folks. They would love to come to your company, organization, church, or group and share their vision. Send Lori an email at toempoweryouth@gmail.com to schedule a time with her and Scott.

If you have never heard them speak, check out the video below to just get a taste of their passion for the work. Right now Lori and Scott are both running between camps and college visits and wrapping up a beautiful ministry at Community Christian Church but when they get a breather, you will hear more from them.



It’s Picnic Time!

logo for picnicsAll of our picnics are sponsored!

All the entertainment is booked!

We are ready to connect with our community!

Empower Youth began in a very simple way… June, July, and August of 2015 we just wanted to get to know our friends a little better. We hosted picnics every Wednesday and we met so many wonderful folks. Now in our third year, this will be the best yet.

Our Entertainment this year is leaning towards a younger side: In June we have hometown girl Anna Weigand and the Joe Tellman Band. We will also have Santorelli Dance Studios and Universal Karate Academy doing live demonstrations. Of course, the young at heart, Mark and Kami Owen will round out this incredible month. In July, our bands will be Over The Years with Kyle Henline, the B-Sides, Brent Hensley, and the dynamic girls group Meridian. In August, we are proud to bring back the Santorelli Dance team again. We are thrilled to have local artists The Patricks and Steve and Dona Fultz join us.  Throughout the summer we will have craft tables for kids, Girl Scouts will be in full force, the library will be coming up with surprises– and much more!

We couldn’t do this without amazing picnic sponsors. We’ve come a long way from 2015 when we made most of the food ourselves in a little church kitchen. We fed 3000 meals that year. Last year we topped off around 4000 meals and we are sure to beat that this year.

Our food sponsors this year include: Elite Biomedical, Community Savings Bank, Community Christian Church, The Coming Storm, Bethel Business Association, Hydro Systems, Multi-Color Corporation, The Bethel Lion’s Club, and The Bethel United Methodist Church.

There’s always room for more folks to join us– we would love to add funnel cakes and moonbounces… and throw in some really crazy stuff like the flying pancake man.  If your organization would like to sponsor a little something special above what we already have on the books– please contact Lori Conley at 614-506-3694 or email at toempoweryouth@gmail.com.

Want to check out our June line up?

june picnic poster

The Last Message Bag Of Hope

We just wanted to fill in the gaps.


We didn’t seek to become a huge operation. We had one goal. Sneak in the gaps between churches and schools and government organizations and change lives. If it meant putting together a food bag—OK. If we could teach a leadership class—that’s cool. If it means securing hotdogs for an end of the year 5th grade bash- you betcha! But it grew… Empower Youth has become an operation that truly never sleeps. We are working on it… but even now as my husband snores away, I am on night shift because I can’t get over the fact that I have a family that is homeless with kids in one of my schools.

In just a couple of hours when I have finally fallen asleep, my husband will wake up startled, gripped with worry over accomplishing our never ending to do list. At 4 am he wakes. And just as he begins to drift around 6, he will wake me up and then I can start to toss and turn.

I’ve been reading a lot about goal setting, delegation, and running a non profit. I’m subscribed to Joan Garry’s Guide to non-profits, read from Good to Great for Non-profits, we’ve joined the Clermont Chamber of Commerce, attended Leadercast 2017, and I’m a missionary’s daughter, and yet… at almost midnight—I keep thinking of the children who are still up because they are being eaten alive mentally and physically by their environment.

The EY Ranch has been a distraction, an encouragement, and a challenge. It has showed us that we are more than the sum of our weekend food bags. The EY Ranch has tried to break us at every step and yet we keep working through tons of construction delays, work group changes, and brainstorming sessions. We know the packing facility cannot happen fast enough. We know that we cannot get on this property quick enough as more students come every day with heartache and more gaps to fill. In the last month, we have been counselors, probation officers, chaplains, school nurses, and work force advocates. We’ve even prepped teens for scholarship interviews.

But there is still that family in a homeless shelter. I thank God for that Shelter for them. And… at the same time the mission of Empower Youth becomes even more clear—we have to teach students to create resource bases that will keep them out of a shelter and allow them to have a life that is thriving… a life where the worry of food is more about what kind than how much… A life where they truly can do whatever they are gifted in and not be blocked by funding…

We packed our last bags of the school year tonight—the last message bag of hope to a child… to a family.  Please think often of our children this Summer. If you see a child in need, find out what you can do to make life better. Some kids are barefoot in the Summer because that’s just what you do… and some kids are barefoot because they have no shoes. But you’ll never know for sure unless you become their friend.


ian clark

%d bloggers like this: