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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:


Lori Conley

Executive Director, Empower Youth

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 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





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