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!
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
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.