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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!

 

COMMUNITY STUDIO: SCULPTURE – Led by Hillary Wagner

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

Patching The Pavement… getting youth on down the road!

To Clermont County and beyond…

The vision of Empower Youth has always been to fill in the gaps between parents, schools, and churches. Our hearts focus on sometimes those very small but significant cracks in the formation of a child’s emotional, physical, and social needs and patch or fill. Sometimes, it’s for a day. Other times, it is a more formidable patch that takes years. But all in all, we still are just gap-fillers.

Over the last two years, our territory has increased but the mission has remained: fight food insecurity, give all students an opportunity to grow at Summer camp, and provide opportunities for students to become leaders that earn their own way. As we have grown as an organization, there is a very distinct population that has cried out to us and this group has become our territory—the rural poor.

The rural poverty that we have seen in Clermont County is about more than just shopping at a thrift store and being on free or reduced lunch. Rural poverty becomes a very hungry animal that grows as a family’s debts, needs, and hardships grows How do we step in at Empower Youth? By partnering with schools and parents, we come alongside students and give them the tools to stay in school. If a student is hungry, they can’t learn. Once they fall behind, it is more natural to just “eek” by or simply drop out than to stay with the program. Child poverty rates grow where the drop-out rate grows. Our newest partner, Grant Career Center, understands this demographic and goes above and beyond to keep their students in school and progressing towards the goal of beyond graduation. As the city and jobs move away from rural areas, the issue of transportation becomes a major player in poverty. What happens when you live beyond the bus line? You no longer are able to make it to important appointments because your ride fell through. You find yourself moved to the back of the line for much needed help. Of course, there is always one person waiting to give you a ride—the drug dealer. After you take your first or second hit, you don’t remember if you ever arrived to your destination and now there is paranoia that you can never really get help because who wants to help a user?

So, this is our call… this is our mission… give the youth of the rural population a future.

The first step is to fight their food insecurities and move them up in their classes.  Every September through May weekend, EY partners with schools to provide weekend meal bags. Here’s some pics of our most recent packing team. They packed 200 bags in 45 minutes. Most of the food came from a local church’s VBS from the Summer.  We are always in need of food. We estimate that this church saved us $800.  Want to help, please make a monetary donation or start a collection for us in your organization.

 

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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It was so good to see you!

13697057_1285818024792422_8110704145429920051_nA note from our Executive Director, Lori Conley:

Back in the 70s, I lived in Western KY and one of my morning TV shows was The Peggy Mitchell Show out of Evansville IN. I really loved that show. She would use puppets and music to connect with her audience. It was a simple kid show with the highlight being Peggy talking directly into the camera. She was pretty convincing and I knew she was talking to me and my brother Bud as we watched every morning. She connected through that TV and made everything she did seem so personal. She saw me. I just knew it.

As I drove home from the picnic tonight, my mind for some reason started thinking about that show of my childhood. I loved the show because I thought for sure she saw me. As I thought of all the children I saw tonight and all the adults I talked to, all of a sudden I realized why we need these picnics—we all need to be seen! We all need that connection of knowing that when we are there we are appreciated and when we aren’t someone actually misses us!

I loved seeing Jeremiah behind the grill and I loved meeting the new interim guy at Bethel Assembly too! I appreciated seeing Grandma Peggy and hearing that her sister had passed peacefully this past week. I appreciated her thinking enough of me to share something so personal with me. I loved running into football coach Adam and seeing him with little ones swarming him. When Brenda and Anthony handed me their little 4 month old with her bandaids showing off her recent shots, I felt a little tug at my heart.  It was so cool seeing families all over the park, having a great time! When I gave that third snowcone to teacher Sarah knowing full well they weren’t for her daughter, my heart just smiled and I felt a kinship.

The idea of the picnics have always been for our community to develop relationships with neighbors and build a community of folks who care about what happens to and in this little town called Bethel. It was fun seeing new folks wearing our t-shirts showing their support! Please don’t ever think the picnics are just about food. It has always been about connection. Food just helps give all of us a place and reason to show up!

If you haven’t been to the picnic, wow—you are really missing out on some of the finest folks I have ever met…and yeah the food isn’t bad either 🙂

The Methodist Church will be bringing in the food and I have heard there is lasagna and ice cream involved!!! Steve and Dona Fultz will be bringing us music. Of course, we will have awesome crafts again by our EY crafter, Shelia Miller. Bring a lawn chair and catch what it’s like to be COMMUNITY!

What a great first week of Summer Break!

Our first picnic was amazing. Great turnout. Awesome food cooked by the hot dog rolling team of Community Savings Bank in Bethel OH. Incredible concert by Noah Smith. We couldn’t have been more pleased with the turnout.  In fact, it was exactly what we had hoped for in the beginning. It was a true slice of our community–all just enjoying a night out!  We will be posting pictures soon. But for now, check out our facebook page often as we will have the most updated pics and posts there.

This week will be busy!

1– We send our first campers to camp on Wednesday night. We are sending 10 2nd and 3rd graders to camp! We are so excited to send these on their way with a full scholarship. We are now sending over 104 children to camp…and the number is growing.

2–We start our Summer Food Program on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Shepherd’s Place (545 W Plane Street, Bethel OH 45106). We will be serving from 11a-1p. The meal is free. We will also be taking applications for a weekend food backpack program. Click on this Final Version summer meals programs application-formatted and bring the form with you if you’d like to participate.

Tuesday’s Meal: Turkey and cheese on a hoagie bun, applesauce, fruit juice, chocolate milk.

Thursday’s Meal: Meat and Cheese combo wrap, salsa, fruit juice, chocolate milk

3– Our second picnic of the season is Wednesday from 6-8pm. This community picnic is going to be delicious with fried chicken and some awesome fixings!

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Here are some great pics taken at our picnic! More to come…

 

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.

3 v 3 Soccer Tournament– register now!

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Click here to register for this tournament and support Empower Youth scholarships.

 

If you haven’t registered for camp– it’s not too late!  We are still accepting camp registrations. Please follow this link to get more information.

 

CAMP TIME! Sign Up Now!

Let’s do this! With butterflies in my stomach, toes tapping, and camp songs playing in my head– it is time to open up the 2016 Camp Scholarship Registrations! This is big.

Why? (Besides the fact we are organized enough to do this) WE are officially saying– WE BELIEVE IN YOUR KIDS! WE BELIEVE IN YOUR FAMILY!

And we will stake the money, the cash, the moolah of our supporters on it!

What do you need to do?  Summer Camp Registration 2016 pg1 pg 2

Where do you send it? Email it toempoweryouth@gmail.com, drop it in the mail at PO Box 351, Bethel OH 45106, or take it to any church in BETHEL and they will find us! You can even give it your school secretary and they will track us down.

What does it cost? We will hold your free scholarship for a fully refundable $10 bill. Why? Because last year, we gave away 15 spots for FREE and they were no shows. That’s 15 kids that lost out on camp. So this year… show up to camp and you get your $10 back! Wow what a deal! It’s like mini savings account to eat out on after you drop the kids off!

How many spots?  Obscure goal: 132!

Deadline April 30 for application. $10 must be in by June 1.

Need more info?  Opening letter for EY Scholarships

Scholarships are based on first come, first served, need, and if you are a first time camper. Every application will be considered and notified of scholarship when received– cause we’re cool like that!

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Loving lavishly

One of the reasons that Empower Youth is able to supply a hot meal for 120 plus students and adults every Wednesday night is because of our partnership with Master Provisions. This group has been providing food for organizations around the globe for many years but in the last couple of years has also opened up a local office for 501c3 organizations dedicated to feeding the community.
 
We’ve only been partners for about 6 weeks. In that time, my husband and I have grown very fond of the volunteers at MP. Today, when we went to pick up supplies, the freezers were bare. A huge truck that they had been waiting on with meat and other supplies had not made it in. Personally, we were going to be ok as this is an off week for us. So I loaded up on macaroni for our tiger packs and a few other non-perishable goodies. As I was getting ready to leave, the manager of the freezer section, said “Wait right here, I have something I’ve saved back for your kids.” He came back with two gigantic trays of cookies.
 
You know, he could have brought me broccoli…. but what impressed me was that he really knows what we do. There are many organizations coming through that warehouse daily and yet he had something special for us.
 
Our hope is that Empower Youth can pass that sentiment forward. We want to be the kind of leaders that with every child or family that we meet we are ridiculously generous and thoughtful and say “hey, wait right here, I have something saved back for you.”
 
If you are into loving your community lavishly, join us…. that’s the stuff that will make our world a better place.
We are looking for folks or organizations to sponsor Summer picnics for our community and to help us send over 100 students to camp. The bill for each picnic is between $300-$500 and the total cost on camp will be approximately $18,000.  Now that ridiculously generous!
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