Empower Youth

Wow! That went fast!

It’s hard to believe that January is gone! Out! Over! Wow!

We have had an amazing month at Empower Youth. Check out these bullet points!

  • We closed the books and this year… wait for it… we took in over $75,000.00 to help fill in the gaps of children and youth in Southern Ohio! Want to hear something crazy?? Only $4,000 of that was from a grant! The rest was YOU! img_8434YOU! YOU! As we finished entering the last contribution of 2016, my eyes leaked joy and thankfulness that from Texas to Haiti, from large companies to Mom and Pop businesses, from big churches to small churches, from families to individuals— YOU YOU YOU did this. You fed Southern Ohio children. You sent kids to camp. You brought communities together. You broke poverty barriers. You helped to open that savings account for a young boy. You!
  • 16179086_1823737487893821_8703709234227598471_oWe taught students in 16 different classes at Amelia Elementary all about leadership this past week (almost 400 students)! For 30 minutes in each class, we explained to students about the importance of being pro-active and not reactive! Our goal is to give each student basic skills to become leaders in their homes, schools, and community. We will be doing this almost monthly through the end of the school year and partnering with other community leaders to help us team teach. We were excited to work with Joey Rolen for our first lesson.
  • We added another school! Today we dropped off 85 bags to Fayetteville Elementary to be distributed to students from preschool all the way through high school. We are excited to start forming partnerships with businesses and churches in Fayetteville to help support this new relationship.20170131_115107
  • We added a volunteer coordinator!! Actually we added two! You can contact Scott and Dana Wedemeyer at volunteer.empoweryouth@gmail.com to schedule your team in to pack bags.
  • We recruited two new delivery drivers! PINCH ME! We now only need a driver to deliver bags to William Bick Elementary. All other routes (including the new one to Fayetteville) are covered– that’s 5 drivers! If you’d like to take our last route, contact me NOW! This will require a van, truck, or good size SUV.
  • We held our first Poverty Class and packed it out! Blanchester Church of the Nazarene hosted– and we are still amazed at the attendance and connections that came from this class. From that class, we received an invite to do a second class with Brad Whiteford and Central Baptist Church in Williamsburg. Date to be announced soon.
  • We have met new friends through our volunteer pack nights and have been completely blown away by the enthusiasm.  20170131_140802


Every “we” in this blog means YOU! You are teaching. You are feeding. You are driving. You are learning about poverty and how to help and not hurt. You are packing. You are taking on more of the load so that more gets done. And in the end, lives are being changed– and I venture to say, it’s not just the kids!

Thank you! Come on February! Empower Youth can feel the love and is transferring it to the children and youth who are desperate for it!

— Lori Conley, Executive Director

Year End Giving Benefits All of Us!

Donate NOW!

We need you!


The end of the year… How did your year go?

Empower Youth found ourselves in the middle of a whirlwind of activity that could not have happened without your help. Some of the thing we were able to accomplish through donations of time and finances are:

We brought a community together and fed more than 4000 meals in the park this summer.

We helped a few teens start their first business.

We ventured into more schools… and are now sending home weekend food bags to more than 260 students every weekend.

We gave every Kindergarten student in Bethel Schools and Amelia Elementary a brand new pillow, pillow case, and stuffed animal and taught them the importance of “dreaming big.”

We sent 160 children and teens to camp.

We continue to feed more than 120 students and volunteers a weekly hot meal on Wednesdays.

We reached out to Grant Career Center and filled in the gaps for their pancake breakfast, Christmas giveaway, and cancer fundraiser.

We matched up 137 children with more than 100 elves for Christmas.

We added more than 100 volunteers this year through our picnics in the park and our weekend food pack program.

We moved from a small boiler room to a packing facility that has allowed us to host groups of 6-25 individuals and so far every month we’ve been blessed with a special donor or donors giving us the rent money!

We worked with interns this year encouraging them to find their gifts and talents and teaching the importance of a job well done.

In short, we filled in the gaps… which is really all we ever wanted to do.

Going into the new year, Amelia Elementary has asked us to fill in the gap of teaching leadership classes for their 3rd-5th grade students once a month. We are looking at hosting some pretty amazing fundraisers including a men’s retreat in 2017. We’ve upped our game on our shopping by partnering with the FreeStore Foodbank and Master Provisions. Sometimes we have some much food donated and have found such great deals that we can actually send home weekend food bags for as low as a $1.62!

We couldn’t do any of this without you! If you are realizing that you need more year end tax deductions please consider sending us a year end gift via paypal or through the mail today! Year end tax deductions will be given to all gifts postmarked by December 31!

Mail your gift to Empower Youth, PO Box 351, Bethel, OH 45106.

We are seeking treasure…



Empower Youth is ending another year and we have found great treasure within the hearts of people who love the children and families of Southwest Ohio.  As we look into the new year, we are seeking to extend our borders to include more children, more schools, more hope!

The treasure we have found is time, leadership, talent, and funds. Fill out the form below and we will contact you to put your treasure to work.

Do the holidays have you busy? If so donate now and Click here!


Our New Normal

Today, my husband on his day off, and myself will be headed out to conquer our new normal. Since beginning Empower Youth in 2015, our normal has really changed. Our Friday “normal” was heading over to the Feed Mill in Felicity for the best coffee in the land, followed by picking up our granddaughters and heading to a park or Chuck E Cheese, and finally ending with lots of baking where chocolate chips abound. In between all this, I would take a few calls, make a few facebook posts, and send in the media for the weekend to the church (remember my paid gig is a children’s minister.)

Today’s normal includes dropping off donations in 3 different depots because we still don’t have enough storage for the Spring yardsale items, the summer camp items, the pillows for the pillow project, the Christmas gifts for the Christmas project, and o yeah the food for 250 students that we feed every weekend. We start off the day by checking the Freestore Foodbank online inventory to see if any ravioli showed up at a way reduced price. Then, we are off and running with a van or vans full of items to sort.

But with all of that … our new normal is exhausting… our new normal is rewarding… our new is heartbreaking…

Our new normal has placed us in the middle of students having adult problems. Our new normal has led us to meet a young 10 year old boy who blurted out in the middle of leadership class that he was raped. Our new normal means that we had parents complain because their children had never even heard that word. Our new normal means we actually scolded the boy for disrupting the class, only to find out he was indeed raped. That’s my new normal. I can take a break and leave my new normal anytime I want. This young ten year old cannot. He will never get a break from his new normal. Our new normal is explaining to a ten year old rape victim that we care about him and that when he speaks we will take him seriously. Our new normal is watching another family leave our program because their child heard the word “rape” in a small group.

Our new normal has led us to great friendships with families we’d normally never have the chance to meet except through Empower Youth. We see progress. We see students making good choices. It’s pretty amazing what a relationship will do to give folks a hand and foot hold to climb out of poverty. A food bag on the weekend that leads to a little extra for Christmas that leads to a week at camp… Some of our families keep on climbing and we eventually don’t see them as much because they have moved out of “ICU” and into “Stepped Down Care” and finally they are on their own. We have contact through facebook and we cheer them on. With other families, they are right out of “ICU” and into the “Stepped Down Care” and yet the hold of generational poverty is so strong that they are pulled right back in. Eventually, they slip away from us completely. Our new normal is a day of joy for those who make it and heartache for those who have slipped away.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and my husband and I are going to try for our normal traditional Thanksgiving Dinner. We will eat at 1pm this year because I just can’t seem to get it all done by noon. We will load our house with a bounty of food, family, and thankfulness. But I’m afraid after 2 years of Empower Youth even thanksgiving will be a new normal. And… that’s ok… cause that’s our new normal.

If Empower Youth has done anything for anyone, I pray it has actually made the new normal for those we serve– better. I pray for those who volunteer or speak on our behalf that they have a new normal like we do– hearts wrenched, hearts ready to serve more, hearts thankful for every opportunity, and most importantly hearts that will not become jaded. There is much work to be done.



Let us see that Ravioli roll….

Empower Youth is now serving 250 students monthly. Our monthly food expenses hit $3000 in September. In order to keep the food costs down, we are asking folks to take a giant step and do a food drive through their organizations, classrooms, clubs, churches, small groups, classes, offices, factories, scouts, etc to help us stock pile enough that we can bring our already low cost of $3.10 a bag to even lower.

With your help we can do it! You may also make a donation to Empower Youth to purchase food items on your behalf. Currently we can purchase milk for 42cents a serving so unless you have a real “in” with a company a donation to us to purchase milk is a better value.

Would you host a food drive and let that Ravioli roll our way?  Here’s a flyer we can customize for you or you can download from here. We can pick up the food at the end of your drive or you can deliver it to our Red Barn packing facility in Batavia and get even more hands on!




2016 Fall Vlog

In just 2 minutes actually 1 minute 57 seconds you can see what we’ve been up to and a glimpse of what is ahead!

Shopping… my Saturday night

This evening, I shopped for about 3 hours pricing items for our upcoming weekend back pack menus. We are now sending packs home at Bethel, Grant, Amelia Elementary, and are have a few more schools planning for backpacks.
This week’s back pack will have 11 items:shelf stable milk, 100% juice, oatmeal, cereal, mini ravioli, ramen, pudding cup, soup, cracker stack, jiff to go peanutbutter, and popcorn. If we purchased all of these items, the cost of the pack would be approximately $3.43.
We are fortunate that many folks donate food items when the sales run so we did not have to purchase all the items on our list. We anticipate the need for 250 backpacks this week. We are projecting by December the need will grow to 400.
I’m attaching a list of our price points that we look for and where we are able to find these items. Mostly it takes all of us shopping. We purchase name brand when we can but we are always looking for the best deal and many times Kroger store brand for the ravioli and beefaroni products are our best bet.
How can you help us?
  • If you find the deal of the century (or the month), text me at 614-506-3694.
  • If you have any kind of buying power with a store or a food pantry program and can order the items we use at a discount, please let me know, we are positioned to buy a pallet of milk or other items if it saves us money.
  • Please look at our list and purchase the items on the list (we aren’t picky about brands).
  • Make a financial donation so that when the big sales come, we have the money to buy in bulk.
  • Follow Empower Youth or Lori Conley (that’s me) on facebook and purchase items when we make note of a special sale. Recently, the ravioli type products went for .53 a can and we were posting it all over the place.

And… we thank you 250 times a week and counting for helping us bring dignity and security to those who need a little extra on the weekends.



%d bloggers like this: