Empower Youth

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

It’s Your Story

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It’s not our story. It’s yours.

Since receiving the property, the community has poured out donations of talents, hard work, and finances to bringing this property into use for the youth and families of Clermont County and beyond. It’s not our story. It’s yours.

Community Savings Bank after giving us the property gave a paid day for volunteers for the company to come and work. It’s not our story. It’s the story of a bank who loves community. It’s the story of a bank who loves people—even those who have never made a deposit. Over the last month, bank board members have brought their own equipment and cleared our land. It’s not our story.

The students of Grant Career Center, most of whom will graduate this year and never experience the benefits of the property to them, have been out weekly working. It’s not our story. It’s the story of a future history teacher, a pre-med student, a biochemist. It’s the story of a vet science major.

The litigations department of American Modern came out and pulled bushes, cleaned lean-tos, and got really dirty. It’s not our story. It’s the story of a team who are normally in khakis and pullovers putting on work boots and drawing blisters for the greater good. It’s not our story.

The Miami Valley Christian Academy 8th and 9th grade boys have a real story. They were able to destroy a lean-to on an old barn. It’s not our story. It’s the story of working off energy and making a difference. It’s the story of hard work.

It’s about a guy named Mike at Lowe’s who painstakingly makes time for us as we think out loud the next big project. He walks through the store making our story, his story. Every piece of wood, every screw bought, every light fixture in the cart—Mike made it his story. It’s the story of a company allowing a manager to invest in the community.

Sardinia concrete jumped on our bandwagon quickly and offered to cap off our soon to be packing facility. Kelly came and looked us over and even went beyond our ask. He made it his story. And after that concrete starts to run… it will become Ryan’s story as he and his buddy finish it.

Matt has been walking our property for weeks. He’s all about getting the lights on. He made it his story. He has spent many nights after work pulling lines, screwing in fixtures, redoing, rethinking, and finally… it’s not our story. It’s Matt’s story.

In early April, Barb from Batavia Heights Christian Childcare donated a beautiful red van to replace our van that was fading fast. It was just in time as it’s become our work truck hauling supplies to the farm almost daily. This is Barb’s story.

Groups, people, companies, churches, organizations… it’s not an EY story. It’s the story of community. And, there are so many more stories to tell about this property, that we may have to eventually write a book about how a community found a way to leave an indelible footprint.

What’s your story? Step onto the EY Ranch and write it.

Contact us at toempoweryouth@gmail.com to set up a time to see the property and begin your personal or organization-wide story.

You may also call Lori Conley at 614-506-3694 for more information.

Here’s a link to a already written about the property:



We found gold!

Well I guess you all have heard by now that we received this sweet little piece of property from Community Savings Bank. It’s beautiful. There are four building and a home on the land. The property goes on back about 15 acres to a gorgeous tree line and an awesome creek. Who would’ve thought that within this piece of land lies a fortune?

Now, I’m not gonna lie. The financial situation of Empower Youth has not changed since we received this property. We are still a very humble organization meeting our bills one day at a time. We still rely on community organizations and individuals sending in their contributions monthly to make this happen. As we feed almost 400 students weekly through our weekend food bags and nearly 150 students midweek with a hot meal, we rely on our partnerships heavily to make this happen. My husband has woke me up every morning for two weeks at 4am with a new worry… and at 4:20am having prayed that away, he goes back to sleep and I then can’t sleep. In fact, he’s snoring now!

But as I check our meager bank account, I realize that it does not reflect in anyway the pot of gold that we are sitting on. This property has allowed us to mine treasure from Clermont County and really all of Appalachia Ohio. It’s a lot of work but every day that we are on the property, every time we tell the story of this amazing gift, and with every sweet friend or brand new friend that comes through we see a refinement of this place—we see gold. Our gold is not a precious metal—our gold is found in the strength of the teens who care so much that they gave up spring break to come and work. Our gold is found in those who crawled into the basement and though overwhelmed just kept bringing boxes and boxes up those stairs. Our gold is found in our Ms. Joan who sits on her stool and just keeps sorting. Our gold is found under a mound of horse manure that shovel by shovel is disappearing.  Our gold—is a bonfire (well actually a trash pile) that on a misty night makes friends out of all of us.

Our gold is found in a rubber snake and a real rooster. Our gold is found in YOU!17759879_1857475621186674_1633629669304344727_n

This land is a great gift but its real value is not found on an auditor’s website. The real value is found in Tyler who went fishing on Sunday. The real value is in Olivia who has already told me how to redo the floors and as a senior at Grant showed me where all the load bearing walls are in the house! The real value is in our cheerleader and bulldog Kayla who is recruiting every teen in the county. Our real value is found in Nate who I know will be a great history teacher one day as he told me all about WW2 while he stoked our trash fire!  Our real value is found in DJ who managed to carry items up from the basement after he found all the 70s 8 tracks. The value of this property is seen in a smiling Morgan and a workaholic Sami– having fun and making memories to last a lifetime.

I’m kind of tickled as I write this and I think about our appeal letter that we sent out in November. It was called “Where is your treasure”. The clipart was a treasure map. Who would’ve thought, we would be given such a treasure trove! Now, we just need the funds to mine it. We need monthly support to pay the insurance bills, electric, and other little incidentals along the way. Would you like to support us? Would your group like to take on a project? There are projects all over this place!

For the next few weeks, we will start sharing building by building our dreams for the EY Ranch. There is so much to be done—but what a great testimony for your organization or your family to be able to say:“See that kid over there fishing—my team helped build up that pond.”  “See that community garden, I cleared that land.” “See that banquet hall, my team blew in that insulation and finished the floor.” “See those lights over the barn, my family paid for the electricity for three months.” “See those 1000 bags ready to be delivered, my company donated the concrete for the packing place.”

Become a part of the refining process of Clermont County and Appalachia Ohio—there’s gold in this property!

Donate now!  Time or money or both!

You can also email us your plans: toempoweryouth@gmail.com


Lori Conley

Executive Director, Empower Youth


I don’t think I will ever forget the morning we sat across from John Essen, President of Community Savings Bank. To be honest, I thought he was going to be telling us about a great new bank product for non-profits. He talked about a piece of property and asked if we were interested in it. Scott and I “played” along listening to the details but the whole time I was thinking in my mind, there is no way we could ever purchase a property like this: 15 acres, a house, a 20+ stall horse barn, a building great for training seminars and group events, and a building that could be easily modified into a packing facility. It all sounded enticing but still we knew this was a longshot for our budget.

And then… he said… I wanted to see if you are interested because I’d like for Community Savings Bank to gift it to Empower Youth.

Drop the mic. Boom.

I still feel the catch in my throat and that pit in my stomach that went from butterflies to flying dragons… even now I feel a bit light headed. Fighting back tears we said yes we are interested.

After a meeting with the bank board and their follow up meeting, we received a call Thursday evening from John saying the board approved. The property would belong to Empower Youth.

I’m still in shock.  How do you say thank you for something like this? A box of chocolates is a bit weak. We are still trying to figure it all out.

I do think the best thanks we can give Community Savings Bank is to use the property in such a powerful way that it brings honor to those who had the vision for it. We want to use the property in a capacity that makes its impact the same way that led CSB to pay attention to us in the first place—we’ll just start with using it as a resource to change one life, and then add another, and another, and another. Remembering that each number has a face. Each face has dreams and  if we mentor these dreamers they will do amazing things for themselves.

Empower Youth has never wanted to be the only “game” in town in the fight against poverty. We don’t want to be the only resource for students. We want to be a “game-changer” by not making our work all about the resources we provide students but by the training and encouragement we instill in students to create their own resource base. When students have created their own resource base only then can they truly step out of circumstance and do big things.

Last month, Empower Youth taught a leadership class for Amelia Schools. The main point was “Begin with the end in mind.” The end for this facility is to be a fully functioning ranch that provides the resources to educate groups from all over Appalachia Ohio on how to help folks in poverty create their own resources. The end for this facility is to be a fully functioning farm with gardens worked by students and animals tended by Grant Career Center students, 4-H clubs, church groups, and scouts. The end for this facility is to have a packing facility to pack one thousand packs a week and the capacity to train groups to start their own EY branch in communities that are too far for us to deliver to.  The end for this facility is to teach students the value of hard work and show them how to start bank accounts and maintain balances that allow them to buy their first car that drives them to their first job that helps pay for their books for college!

So with the end in mind and clearly set before us… let me walk you through the beginning step. The beginning step is to clean up the property. The bank has ordered a 30-yard dumpster to be delivered on Tuesday (March 28).

Priority 1: Clean the property

There is a lot of debris at the property due to years of use. We need large groups, small groups, individuals, families, and teams to come to the property and help us get this in shape as soon as possible. We need to sort through the leftovers all over the property. Trash must be packed tight in the dumpster. We also will be separating out wood, metal, copper, and aluminum. Some items will go in a yard sale to help offset the cost of the property and send kids to camp this Summer while other items are in good enough shape that we will try to sell them on auction sites.

Priority 2: Food Depot

Clean out the building that will be used for our food depot.  Make repairs to the building. Dry wall and redo all fixtures and doors. Pour cement floor if needed. Make the building completely solid for food storage. Fix the drainage around the building. We need doors and windows for the building donated and installed. We need insulation donated for the packing building.

Priority 3: Excavation

In order to keep water out of some of the buildings, we need to move dirt to around the buildings as well as raise the floor of the main barn a few inches to keep water from settling in.

List of items needed for donation:

Tractor with front loader and PTO

Paint for the barns (interior and exterior)

Windows and doors

4-foot-wide door for packing barn

Insulation board

Cement cap for floor

Light fixtures

Metal shelving


Air conditioner

Wood for packing tables (or restaurant grade packing tables)


List of items need to borrow:

Bobcats, tractors, mowers

List of skills needed:

Trash pickers, sorters… painters, dry-wallers, cement finishers, electricians, heating and air pros…

Dirt movers… mowers… cleaners for the house… stall muckers… wood choppers… pond fixers… bobcat drivers…

Want to help? Contact us today at toempoweryouth@gmail.com. There is plenty of work to do but together this property can be a great tool in the fight to empower youth to break through barriers to reach their full potential. #GoLocal.


Twitter: @CommunitySvg



As Empower Youth grows, the balance between the mission and the work to keep the mission in front and going sometimes pull myself and our board a million directions. Each one of us– after two years of growing from 25 bags to 385 bags a weekend, from helping in one school system to helping in 4 school systems, and adding countless miles to our cars and minutes to our data plans—are all volunteers.


With that being said, there seems to be much to keep me up at night. But lately, it hasn’t been the fundraising. I wanted to share a little story with you. Over the weekend, a young boy of barely 12 years old contacted me. He was given Empower Youth information and specifically my name and phone number. He texted me back and forth over the weekend asking for help. He explained his situation as living in an extended stay hotel with his little brother and his single Mom who cleaned rooms there. He had been given my card by another housekeeper who was worried about him. To add angst to this entire situation, he really wanted to protect his Mom and make sure that I could help them and not separate them. I spoke with him on the phone a couple of times over the weekend as well. He really is a very mature young man. Always thanking me for helping him…very polite.


Yesterday, I visited him in the lobby of his hotel and dropped off school supplies. He has been out of school for almost 15 days (according to him). He’s starting back on Wednesday. I never saw his Mom. I wanted to establish a trust relationship with the young man and honestly, I’m not crazy. In today’s world, I would never meet with any child without an adult present so the lobby with the managers at the desk was the best bet.


As time plays out, I am hoping to help this young family get back on their feet. I’ve been blessed with friendships through the SafetyNet of Clermont County that I think will help them. Helping them is not what’s keeping me up at night… I can’t sleep because my heart breaks that his resource base is a name on a business card. My heart breaks because whether he’s legit or running a scam, I wonder if he’s texting anyone else. My heart breaks because there’s a 12 year old who is taking the lead role in his family. He’s the one asking for help with applying for housing. He’s the one asking for school supplies. He’s the one… it’s just him…


My heart breaks because he’s not the only 12 year old running a household…


Empower Youth is a lot of things… but right now it is gut-wrenching.


If you can’t sleep, maybe you need to be more active with us in the fight to give youth a future. Donate or volunteer today.

Empower Youth Remembers: Peachie Glassmeyer

14717330_1778268599107377_5265049837128402894_nShe never really wanted the spotlight but honestly, she could fill up a room with her humor, heart, and charm. Peachie was a beacon of hope and promise to so many who crossed her path. We were fortunate enough to work with her this past year. And… we have been forever changed.

Peachie passed away from Pancreatic Cancer on Monday with her beloved family at her side. Our prayers are with Beau and their children. We know Peachie is at rest and now we pray you have peace and can finally exhale after an excruciating month.

We met Peachie in June of 2016 but started talking a bit before that. She was interested in our weekend back pack food program for her Grant Career Center students. She researched us and presented us for approval. Grant was quite an undertaking for us. The school works with mainly Juniors and Seniors. We expected just about 30 bags in a school of less than 400. However, Peachie changed that. She went class to class talking to the students about the EY bags and how it was not a handout but that no student should ever be hungry so “grow up and take it if you need it”. It was to alleviate one more worry. The bags were deserved and were there to make each student ready for school on Monday. After all the surveys were finished and the forms received, we started bringing 75 bags to the school. They are nearly all picked up every week. How did this happen? In our other high schools, students barely even hear about the program for fear of making students feel uncomfortable. Yet Peachie in her grit and tenacity made this about if you need it take it, if you don’t– don’t. If you like it– great. If you don’t, leave it. Simple. Effective. The bags are rolled out where the kids can grab them on the way to their cars or buses. There’s no “special” sign or secrecy… just grab and go.

Peachie also called on us for other little things needed, like deodorant and shampoo around homecoming. Basically, if she heard of a gap to be filled, she called us. If we could help we definitely did. We adopted her students with the same heart as she did– every student deserves to make it. Every student can succeed.

Our fondest memory is this past Fall when Peachie attended our Chipotle fundraiser. We were told that while we could hand out flyers outside the restaurant and tell people to mention us, that once inside we could not solicit their support. Do you think Peachie even paid attention to that? Not at all… she started telling everyone in line. “Now be sure to say you are here for Empower Youth when you pay.” Two ladies in front of her had to listen for at least twenty minutes as Peachie kept talking about EY and the great things we were doing for her beloved students. Well wouldn’t you know, when they got up to pay they forgot to say anything and Peachie immediately jumped in and said, “What are you supposed to say?” OH! I can still hear her!


Before Peachie took her leave from work, I was bringing her the crates for the backpacks. In fact, I bought new Teal ones so I was kind of bragging about how pretty they were. I told Peachie I picked them up to match her eyes. Peachie then told me that something was just not right and that she knew it was serious and would be taking a leave from work. She very meticulously went through every name and number that I needed. She filled my head with potential new contacts for our work. She told me about the Soil Conservation group and about good folks like her waiting to do something with us. Through her sickness the last month, I would still get a text here and there. Peachie never talked about herself. She just encouraged the work. Wow, she really had that down good.

When we received word that Peachie had requested donations be made to Empower Youth in lieu of flowers at her passing, again Peachie overwhelmed. Even typing this, tears are streaming as we remember her… sigh… she will forever be a treasure to my husband and I.

If you would like to give in memory of Peachie, here is the link.

We have already received gifts from friends and will update this daily with the gifts of love and tribute made to her. We will send the specifics to her family.

As of this posting Memorial Gifts have been made for Peachie Glassmeyer by:

Fidelity Investments

Teachers and Staff of Grant Career Center

Stephanie Shelander

Susang Grogan Faller

Tracy Beach

Bettyann Marx

Jennifer Hill

Sue Bee-Jones

Julie Bryant

Jason Sorenson

Adele Wehrum

Peggy Szygenda

Michael Koesters

Martha Lambert

Kaia Olatunde

Karen Nuckolls

Mary J. Willke

Michele Colchin

Fideles Mattingly

Colin and Leah Klump

Pamela McKinney

Martha McDonald

Mary Lachmann

Joe Glassmeyer

Lori Wood

Scott Hakel

Debra Quentel

Janet Jackson

Kimberly Scwettman

Geoffrey Burkhart

Amy Ninichuck

Friendfeed & Mokum friends of Sarah & Susan

Pamela Sisney

Brenda Camery

Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts

Elizabeth Glassmeyer

Cattleman’s Association

Clermont County Public Health

EPA Friends/Jody Shoemaker

Adam & Angela Rutherford

Jeffrey & Jane Stine



Our Community Cares…

Empower Youth is nothing without a caring community! Thank you for making the youth of southern Ohio YOUR priority.


Anchor Fitness by Leah located in Batavia cares. This month they are collecting specific items for our weekend backpacks. These items are products that we can’t cut a break on and are desperately needed. They are also packing one day this month.


certa-pro-stroked1-e1336013469692 CertaPro Painters from Milford cares. This month they are packing weekend food bags for us twice! That’s over 600 bags. What’s really great is that their owner “gets” what we are doing and is sharing it with other folks like the rep from Sherwin Williams who tagged along on the first packing.



Hamersville Girl Scouts will be packing at the end of the month– these girl scouts aren’t just about the cookies.


We’ve had some wonderful church groups come through and are on the schedule to come through… Thank you to the Bethel Naz Youth who are packing during their 30 hour famine later this month. Thank you to Mt. Carmel Christian Church group who packed last month and have already scheduled another packing day!

And then there are the diehards… monthly we see the Bethel United Methodist Youth and Grant Career Center teens… wow! You guys are in it to win it!

Sunday we can’t wait to present our program to Bethel Assembly of God— a brand new monthly support team. On Monday, we are overly excited to receive a special donation from the Carrot Crunchers 4-H Club. 4-h_Club-290x300.jpg

Packing the bags is a great way to make friends and relieve the tension in the office! Right now, our fastest group is packing 320 bags under 45 minutes and our other groups are making it at about an hour and 15 minutes at the most. This is totally doable as an office event or a youth group outing.

Maybe your group would like to put some skin in the game and when you come to pack bring a donation of $199 to supply the ravioli for the week?

As we serve more and more students, our needs grow too and we are always looking for creative ways to fill the bags, send kids to camp, and further our goal of teaching leadership to students.

We are so thankful for groups like the teachers of Bethel-Tate who participated in a Lularoe fundraiser this past month with proceeds going to Empower Youth. We also had an awesome donation from a local VFW in Amelia bring us food products that we use every week in the bags. We are so grateful for Community Savings Bank of Bethel collecting food and once again being a support for our 2017 tshirts and the Earn Your Way program.

How would you like to help? Let us know! We don’t just help our youth dream big– there’s dreams for all of us to pursue.



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