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The Last Message Bag Of Hope

We just wanted to fill in the gaps.

Honest.

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

Year End Giving Benefits All of Us!

Donate NOW!

We need you!

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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.

No words left for a title…

THANKS

For some reason, I don’t know where to start. I’ve been trying to write this article for two weeks. Ever since the last picnic in the park and before the start of school, I’ve just wanted to say “thanks”. But the words have failed me. All I have is what feels like a huge heart of cotton candy… floating… and wistful thinking of what our community would be like if every time we tried to cut through a day, we came up with a slice of people having a good time, caring for one another…  Wouldn’t that be nice?

In great literature, I think they call that a utopia… a perfect society. The Scriptures would say that’s Heaven. And during the Summer, I call it “Picnics in the Park.” This little slice of kindness and goodwill towards all was created by so many people, I can’t even list them all. This little slice took the effort of many imperfect folks just trying our best. Sure, some things didn’t go as planned. Some days may have seemed right to the wire… but in the end—Burke Park became a place to hang out, strengthen relationships, forget about some relationships, enjoy some peace, let your kids play with the comfort of safety, grab a quick bite, enjoy a long sit, hear some great tunes, watch some awesome kids, and just be… without comparing yourself to your neighbor. Just be… and finally see that Summer is about breathing in and breathing out and knowing that there are still safe places and still pockets of folks who want what you want—peace.

So thank you to the many companies that stepped in. Thank you to the churches that worked in the forefront and behind the scenes. Thank you to the folks who just stood around waiting to jump in where needed. I am really at a loss how to express myself to you. I can only tell you that as the director of Empower Youth, my heart bursts with gratitude towards you… and there is much anticipation for next Summer—even a little angst as I wonder how to have a do-over as fabulous as this year.

CAMP NUMBERS:

The numbers are in on our camps this Summer—Empower Youth sent 141 students to camp! That’s worth repeating—Empower Youth sent 141 students to camp! Thank you to the many special donors and to those folks who participated in our Send a Kid To Camp fundraisers. If you bought a shirt, you helped send a kid to camp. Thank you to Community Savings Bank for taking on the shirt fundraising project!

 SUMMER FOOD SUMMER FUN:

This little program grew and ebbed and flowed with our hot Summer. We started with just a few students but in the end we were running 30 – 45 students consistently with a few really huge days of over 45! This was a fantastic offering for us and we are thankful for our partnership with the Freestore Foodbank for the free meals that were easy to serve and for the weekend bags we were able to distribute every day.

WHAT’S NEXT:

Well, by the first Thursday in September, we will have started packing the weekend backpacks for the Bethel Tate Tiger Packs, the Amelia Elementary Tiger Packs, and the Grant Career Center Weekend Survival Kits. We are increasing our program to the point of doubling what we currently do. We already have started collecting names of students needing weekend food packs and we know they will grow.

Thursday September 1, 2016, we secured the lease on a packing space of over 900 square feet. We are now in a position to have groups come and help us pack 400-500 packs at a time. We have plenty of parking space. We have plenty of room. The anticipation is killing us as we prepare to start using this space.

Everything we do is a leap! We are filling in the gaps in our local schools by jumping over chasms of territory we have never navigated before.

In just a few weeks, we will be giving all the Kindergarten students of Amelia Elementary and Bethel William Bick Primary a brand new pillow, pillow case, and stuffed animal. This was all donated by Multi-color Corporation with the hard working hands of girl scouts tie-dying those pillow cases as well as seamstresses from around Bethel making beautiful handmade original cases. Dream Big is ready to go and as a leader, I was blessed to do little more than pick up the items. So different from last year.

 HELP NEEDED:

We need weekend food packers—own this project with us. If you have a youth group or other community group or just want to bring your family, we need folks to sign up to pack our weekend packs. You can choose to come for a couple of hours or you can decide to stay until you reach a specific goal of so many bags packed. This is up to you. We strongly believe in letting our volunteers lead on… and we just hang out and provide the backup you need to accomplish your dreams.

We need help with our dream big project. We have all the ingredients for this– we just need a team to come in and put it all together: stuff pillows and stuffed animals in pillowcases and then wrap and rubber band it all to be placed in a bag for each Kindergarten student in Bethel and Amelia Elementary.

We need monthly support. Every month, I receive a check of $24 from one of our monthly supporters. When I get her check, I don’t see dollars. I see 6 weekend packs. 6 children who will eat because she gave faithfully. At the end of the year, that $24 a month will have provided 72 weekend packs—that is a cherished donation. That is enough to feed two families.  We have other donors who give $100 a month. I know that with that over the course of the year I will be able to provide 300 weekend packs. I see 300 faces. With a monthly donation, we are able to make purchases in advance and get the best deals for our programming.

We need food collections from civic groups and churches of the specific food we need for our weekend packs! Cans and cans of ravioli, beefaroni, spaghetti and meatballs are used every week. Most weeks we have a combination of those food items with mac and cheese or two of those canned goods. That’s expensive but a lot of times, folks will take it upon themselves to donate us cases of the stuff—one lady took advantage of a local sale and gave us 5 cases! What a blessing. Some folks see $ signs, some see cans of food, I see 60 faces with smiles.

It seems that with Empower Youth, we barely say thank you before we are asking again. And for that, I cannot apologize. Not until the last heroin addict is gone from Clermont County, not until the last set of big hungry eyes are satisfied can I rest, not until there are no more children living in cellars with their single parent or “camping out” permanently can I sleep and say “we are done.”

Please help us as we go in to this year. Please say that this year, you will jump on board in such way that is meaningful to you and to us. Perhaps it’s a sacrificial gift. Maybe it’s just saying you will volunteer to pack or deliver packs. Maybe, your gift is that you are going to help us mentor students…

Whatever the call—I will never tie your commitment to your wallet—I will always tie it to your heart.

This is opportunity here for you to do big things in very big and very small ways.

YOUR NEXT STEP:

Email Lori Conley at toempoweryouth@gmail.com and simply tell me your heart. Then we will work together to see how you can make your dreams for this area and beyond a reality with our help.

And yes, we do have very specific jobs to be done if the dreamer part of you is a bit rusty 😉

Tonight we saw…

Come with me to an Empower Youth picnic and see what we see…

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Tonight we saw new faces… they were enjoying the food, the music, and just being away from the house enjoying the neighbors.

 

Tonight, we saw a grandpa, giving his granddaughter some advice… we weren’t close enough to listen in but that ol’ tree stump was a great place for a young Ella Kate to give Grandpa her attention.13934624_10157318500655565_7581623864194303336_n

 

Tonight, we met a couple who said they had never heard about us until a Junior high boy brought a flyer to their door and talked to them about how great the mac n cheese was going to be tonight.

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Tonight, two neighbors met who never knew they were neighbors… and they found out they have much in common and left encouraging each other to just keep on keeping on.

 

Tonight, the Lion’s Club surely out did themselves and we were so grateful for the meal they provided and their love for this community.2097_1470283441881

 

Tonight, the music was incredible. The group was  a fill-in but seriously they could’ve been a mainliner and we would’ve never known. Pretty much loved everything they sang!

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Tonight, the line never stopped— but neither did the food… We had enough and leftovers to feed over 350 people!

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Tonight, we are so thankful for the staff at McDonald’s who had to make us double the orange drink because we ran out within 45 minutes!

 

Tonight, we ran out of ice for snowcones by 7:23… we hated that but wow—that is a lot of ice… the first time we’ve done that!

 

Tonight, the crafts were hopping, the giveaways down at the stage were non-stop… but most of all the smiles from folks never ended! We love Kadin’s windsock!

 

Tonight, we saw ministers among us… and they didn’t preach a sermon (YAY!) They came together to hang with the community and serve where needed.

 

Tonight, I saw friends talking and sticking around until way after the party was over… I just love that.

 

If you have helped in any way this summer, I thank you. Some folks stay consistently every week to help us clean up. Some youth groups stick around and make a pass through the park just to pick up the trash before they leave. I have so many folks filling in gaps that I don’t even know exist because they just patch things up before anyone knows there is a problem. I’ve not worried over entertainment this Summer—it’s covered! I’ve not worried over crafts for kids—it’s covered! I’ve not worried over food (well except that 15 gallons of tea that spilled in my van—it’s covered–the van that is). This is community. This is unique. This is hometown pride.

 

Next Wednesday we are honoring our police and firefighters. They will be on hand as well as an incredible entertainment lineup by Taylor Shannon starting at 6pm and Cevin West starting at 7:20pm. We will have fair food so come hungry for corn dogs (by an anonymous donor), funnel cakes by Hydro, cotton candy, popcorn, snowcones, and drinks.  It won’t be healthy but it will be FUN!

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Summer Picnics Are Here

Last year, Empower Youth broke out into Burke Park with one goal– connect our community in a way that no matter your background, paystub, or facebook status that we could all come together and have a great time enjoying our families, our neighbors, and meeting new friends along the way.  We had a fantastic success. We served over 3000 meals and filled in a gap that towns all over America are missing– community.

When we can truly be in community, then we celebrate successes like graduations, marriages, babies, retirement… When we are in community, we are there for misfortunes like sickness, loss of loved ones, job losses, and wrecked homes.

Our picnics aren’t meant to be profound, it’s just that good friends, good food, and fun seem to make those long weeks of Summer pass by with some great memories that linger way after the frost hits the pumpkins in the Fall.

Connect with the Community Picnics In The Park noah smith

 

Please join us. Bring your lawn chair too– we’re sure you’ll want to stick around for the entertainment every night. These picnics are a beautiful gift to our community by some amazing sponsors who believe that small town hospitality is not something we want to let go of anytime soon.

I’ve Been Diagnosed… finally

My own case of ADHDAdvocate for the Dreamers, Harbor for the Downcast….

For the last few months, my husband and I along with our board members and many of our volunteers have been seeing that we are outgrowing the beautiful storage and packing space that a local church (Faith Chapel in Bethel) has so willingly allowed us to use. They have been incredible advocates for Empower Youth including giving us a key to their building and to their hearts. We’ve never taken this gift of space as trivial or effortless. They in many ways were the spring board which helped take our efforts from being a closed group to a true community offering. It was indeed the hand up we needed to take our Weekend Backpack program to the next level of volunteer coordination and promotion to the public. Now we find ourselves sitting on the edge of taking on more packs, needing to store more inventory in order to purchase at greater discounts, and bringing in more volunteers. This is getting big.

 
At the same time that we are space hunting, we are also attempting to send 3 times as many kids to camp as last year. We have been doing price comparisons to get the best bang for the buck while still giving our students the greatest experience possible. Over the next few weeks, we will be producing a list of camp dates that we are sponsoring scholarships for. Parents who would like to send their child to camp pick the date that fits their child’s age and fill out a very simple form. We then will provide a camper concierge service (so to speak) where we make sure every camper that goes to camp through Empower Youth has transportation to and from camp, bedding, special recreation gear, toiletries, and other items needed to have a successful camp experience. This is getting big.

 
Finally, as our leadership class for 6th grade and up begins to finish for the season, it will be time to make good on all the incentives our teens have been earning—everything from college trips to camp scholarships are in the works. And of course, there is some fun thrown in. Why? Because we want students to have the “feel good” effect from earning their way. We want them to experience the satisfaction of knowing that they have made things happen for themselves and they have earned their way. This is getting big.

 
On more than one occasion in the last couple of weeks, I’ve been told I have ADD or ADHD, given the bony finger of advice to rest more, and even told I must be on something to keep moving. And to all that, I can say that there is a little truth to it all. I do have ADHD; although, it is not a clinical diagnosis. It’s my own. I am guilty of Advocating for Dreamers and Harboring the Downcast. Does it make me hyperactive? Yes—but not because I have a chemical imbalance. I love people. I love them in masses and I love them by themselves. Most folks who know me would say that I play to the crowds. I am indeed happy there. However, when you start working with the families of Empower Youth, it’s not just about a crowd anymore. It’s about a boy named Sal, a Momma named Dawn, a girl name Aiden, and Dad named Tony. As EY grows, I hope we never forget to learn names and make home visits. I hope we show up at hospitals and funerals as well as cheer on 4-H clubs at the county fair. Empowering youth and young families can’t just happen at a park. It happens during that drive to the hospital with an expectant momma. It happens at school hanging out with the secretary and encouraging the teachers and leaders who are in the trenches. I do have ADHD—I hope I always find time to Advocate for Dreamers and Harbor the Downcast.

 
Empower Youth is committed to eradicating food insecurities, sending kids to camp, and providing leadership opportunities for children and teens to propel themselves in to a future worth living! We are Advocates for Dreamers and Harbors for the Downcast—and the work is exhausting. However, we will not waver.

 

How can you help?

We need one time gifts for camp scholarships. We are estimating our costs to be $18,000. We will also need sleeping bags, pillows, swim wear, and other camp items. Sponsor a child, sponsor a bunk, sponsor a group of campers– or hey, write the check for the full amount.

 
We need folks to pack the weekend food packs for our schools.

 
We need a new packing facility. We are looking at property and are even dreaming big dreams of a drive through warehouse. Hey dream big or go home! What would that look like? Money for land? A concrete service to pour a slab for a pole barn to built on site by volunteers? I’m dreaming… but there is a little one acre lot between Williamsburg and Bethel that would be perfect. Perhaps you have an acre to donate?

 
We need businesses to make Empower Youth their poster child and support us by sending us leaders and connections.

 
Attend and promote one of our upcoming fundraisers—a March 22 Coupon Class at the Bethel Library, the quarter auction is Tuesday April 19 at the ARF Bingo Hall, and coming in August a HUGE soccer three on three tournament.

 
We need volunteers to be donation coordinators: make phone calls on our behalf for specific items for our quarter auction as well as find us picnic partners for the summer.

 
We need churches to jump in and support our camp efforts and feeding program. We will be your camp or VBS missionary. We can come and present our vision to your board, your team, and your congregation.

 
We need watchdogs in the community to make sure that if there is a gap to be filled in our schools regarding students going home hungry, that Empower Youth is called and able to help fill that gap.

 

My hope is that I am not alone. My hope is that the dreamers and the downcasts feel the love and encouragement of bigger dreamers and doers!

Email me: Lori Conley at toempoweryouth@gmail.com for information about sending kids/teens to camp, volunteer job descriptions, and with any other questions. Click here to make that donation that your heart is pulling for or your brain is pushing.

 

I don’t want to cure my Advocate for Dreamers, Harbor for the Downcast condition—I WANT TO SPREAD IT!

Enlarging Territory: My Buddy Sal

Meet Sal. He’s ten years old and he has wiggled into my heart. When I first met Sal, his Momma introduced him to me and explained that he had some speech problems and was a bit autistic. I met him right after Halloween. I remember the first time he came to my Sunday morning class. He was friendly and happy but definitely a bit shaky and unsure of just what he was getting into. Sal came to class with his brother Joey. Now Joey was a bit more apprehensive and only one year older than Sal he pretty much towered over Sal. Joey is extremely autistic and was more than cautious coming into class.

By the end of class, I realized Sunday mornings would never be the same. We would need more help to ensure that the boys could get the most out of our service. Change upset Joey and he would rage while Sal would just rock back and forth if we moved too fast. Nevertheless the boys kept coming and within just a few weeks, we were friends. One Sunday the boys’ mom shared that Sal was going to be put on a feeding tube system sometime in January. I could hardly believe it. He was definitely a little dude but I just never saw that coming.

A few weeks ago, Joey had to be in the hospital for an extended stay. His Mom, who is new to the area, was in a bad spot. She needed to be at the hospital but she needed care for Sal. It seemed natural for Sal to stay with our family. You had better believe I was determined to fatten Sal up. If he would only gain a pound, the NG tube wouldn’t happen. I fed him everything. We made cookies. We had ravioli. We had fried chicken. We had pizza. In between meals, Sal could eat whatever he wanted.

After that weekend Sal went back to the doctor. He hadn’t gained a pound… I had gained three!!! Brokenhearted, I listened to his mom tell me that indeed the procedure would be scheduled. Sal was scared. The tears still roll down my cheeks even as I write this–this kid really gets to me.

He had his proceedure today. He swallowed an NG tube and  if all goes well he will be on a feeding program and  will gain the nutrition he needs. His Mom who has been so willing to share her heart has given permission for me to learn the system so that Sal has a larger circle of freedom…an expanded territory.

My main goal for Empower Youth has always been to give kids a step up, a step out, a step forward. As I prepared myself for today, I keep thinking what a coincidence– what a “God” thing that even in this relationship with Sal and his family that we are filling in the gaps and enlarging his circle.  I hate to write this but I’ll confess, I want to learn how to care for Sal because I want him to receive a camp scholarship from  Empower Youth to attend camp this Summer. I’m fortunate enough to be a dean for a “Supernaturally gifted” 3 day retreat and I know that Sal and his brother Joey would love it!!

Our goal is for Sal and Joey and about a hundred other students to be able to go to camp. While everyone is snowed in–all I’m thinking of is how to organize that many registrations, make sure that many kids have what they need, and how are we going to provide that many partial to full scholarships!!

Empower Youth is all about enlarging the territory of children and youth so that they discover their gifts and strengths and become leaders in their community. I’m not satisfied for Sal to be bound by a feeding tube. My hope is to see him gain strength and not need it.

There are so many children tethered by more than a feeding tube. They need folks to be their buddy and help them enlarge their territory… Neglect, poverty, abuse, drugs, and lack of education are stronger bonds to break. But with your help, Empower Youth will enlarge their territory.

I can’t wait to update this story with new adventures of Sal.

We are birthing an elephant!

In May of 2015, I wrote an article called It’s Only Sunday and the following week I wrote about a terrible Mother’s Day for another one of our youth.

I wanted to take a moment to update you on these families.

From “It’s Only Sunday”, it wasn’t long until the family returned to it’s usual routine. The Mom moved back in with her husband and children. Over the Summer, the father had found work and started attending anger management sessions. While the Mom and her children stayed involved, it was noticeable that she became more and more to herself and eventually, we just didn’t see her much. In the Fall, I received a phone call from her asking for advice. Her son had been in a fight at school. He had started the fight was suspended. She was reeling and so afraid that her son was repeating the cycle he had seen at home. She grounded him and tried to get him help. Eventually, she began to send her children back to our creative arts program and they seemed to thrive. It was obvious that this Momma was doing her best and struggling. While she constantly spoke of her husband’s progress, it was hard not to notice that she wore oversized coats, often had a band-aid on her forehead or an ace bandage on her arm. For Christmas her daughter had a part in the Christmas play. Even though it was almost show time, the daughter made it for all the performances and her Mom and siblings were always in the audience. The Mom’s precious smile and giggle seemed to have returned and I was hopeful for change and healing in this family.

On Christmas Eve, the police were called to her home just before midnight. Her husband had put a chair through another TV and had threatened her life and the life of her children. This time she and her children left in a squad car.

 

We also wrote in May about a Mom who had been sent to jail after a drug overdose. She was pregnant and had passed out with the needle in her arm. The baby was taken and after she was well enough from having the baby, she and the baby were released to her home. For the last 6 months, she has been at home and her older children were granted visitation. She has been clean for 6 months. Over those 6 months, the children were involved in the arts program of a local church and we kept pretty good tabs on them making sure they had the money needed to go on special outings with the local church and just checking up on them as needed. Both of her older children have been thriving and doing well.

In October, the young Mom’s court date came up. She was being charged for the drug episode in May. The judge found her guilty and sentenced her to 6 months in jail. While she had managed to stay clean from May til October, the judge was not lenient as this was her third time around. Empower Youth stepped in to help the Dad with Christmas. This man was not the man I met in May. In May, I remember he was very strong in Spirit and almost frightening. But in December, he stood with tears in his eyes thanking me for just listening to him. He explained his son was suffering from horrible migraines now and he was truly worried for him. This very strong man was broken. He was worried for his son. He was frustrated with their mother. And, essentially, he had no one to care for his daughter if his son required a hospital stay.

What am I learning as the director of Empower Youth? I’m learning this is not a Hallmark Channel movie where there is a merry Christmas for everyone or where families are blended in to a perfect wonderful life. In fact at times it seems like it’s one of those movies where you are halfway through the popcorn bowl and boom the music plays, the credits roll, and you are left with all these questions!

Why am I sharing this? Because these stories are not unique.

Why do you need to hear this? Because you need to know that it’s easy to put food in a belly for a weekend through our Tiger Packs. You need to know it’s easy to feed kids on Wednesday nights. You need to know that collecting cans of Beanie Weenies while is elusive–still can be accomplished for 79cents at Save A Lot.

You need to hear this because it is going to take more than blowing up food insecurities to give these children hope. The food is the start. The food begins the relationship. Because of the food, we were able to provide Christmas. Because of the Christmas, we were able to have a genuine conversation. Now that the conversations have started, we can start encouraging parents to send their kids to camp and allowing them to make college visits. Because of the Tiger Packs, the boys who said “please stop putting tomato soup in there” will now talk to us about going to college. And, we will get them on a college campus!

Our work is cut out for us. We are in this 8 months deep. You can’t even have a fully developed baby in 8 months– right now this feels like we are birthing an elephant (fyi: it takes 21 months to birth an elephant)!

So what’s happening now:

We now pack our Tiger Packs offsite and deliver them to schools. There is room for volunteers. We also have two more schools looking at our program and asking us to expand. This will call for more volunteers and more food.

We have 100+ children wanting to go to camp this year. They will need scholarships. This is estimated at $15,000.

Empower Youth currently provides the food budget for a local creative arts program every Wednesday. This is a $600 monthly need.

Empower Youth will be having our relationship building picnics every Wednesday this Summer. Last year we served 3000 meals– we are looking for sponsors to say, “I will provide food and funds for one Wednesday meal this Summer”.

How can you help?

  • You can volunteer to partner with families.
  • You can share this story and the mission of Empower Youth with your company CEOs who want to invest in programs that will better this world.
  • You can be a voice for EY in your church, your organization, and your employment. Chances are you know someone right now who can elevate this program financially and provide camp scholarships. You may know someone right now who can elevate this program to receive the attention of the public.

 

How sure am I that we are on to something big? So sure I’m ready to call the zoo! We are in this for the long haul… and when we are done, not only will we birth this elephant of a mission– but we will see it fly!

“But I’ve been, done, seen about everything
When I see a elephant fly”–Dumbo

 

 

 

 

empoweryouth.me

11172005_10206615805775508_1014774173_oTaking a trip through Bethel, you can essentially find everything you need. We have various fast food chains, a sit down home style diner or two, two pizza places, a couple of drug stores, a 5 and Dime, churches on the main drag and some stacked just one street back–we have it all!  We have a community park and schools with dedicated teachers. In essence, this little town is probably like most others.

Except when you start really walking the streets and you see the abandoned homes. It may look like most others til you realize that just this morning a young man passed out from overdosing in a parking lot of one of our local restaurants, his needles and drug paraphanelia scattered around him–a needle still stuck in his arm.

Once a year, our Primary school has a talent show. I have to say that place is packed. This year I watched our little Kindergarten class perform their special songs. They were singing monkeys in a tree and all about peanut butter and jelly. Those children were full of energy and the house came alive.  In 12 years, these students will be graduating. What will their future be?  Who will they become?

We all have a responsibility to our youth. We all can make a difference.

We are a grassroots organization committed to driving the message to our youth that they can indeed break through poverty, drug addiction, and neglect to become empowered to do great things. We believe there is potential in every child–if we get to them in time and show them that there is life beyond the drugs being dealt at the back of the restaurant parking lot. We secured our website domain as empoweryouth.me. Honestly, that’s where its starts. If you won’t take a minute to empower youth then when will they get the courage to step up to bigger challenges. Children can’t achieve what they haven’t been exposed to– many of our students can do so much more– they just need you.

Empower youth begins with me. Empower youth begins with you.

Please join us in this mission– we need volunteers and funds. If you can help please fill out the form below or click on our donate now page to put some traction to your action.

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