Today is Wednesday, August 16, 2017

$55K donation made to EMDC in honor of niece

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A Wilson County non-profit recently unveiled approved plans to create a large complex in Lebanon, next to University Medical Center, and announced a large gift to the project.

Empower Me's fund-raising campaign, titled "90 Days to Donate," encourages supporters to donate to the non-profit to help build the first part of the Empower Me Center, which will feature a large center facility, several outdoor recreation facilities and live-in cottages for young adults with disabilities.

A substantial gift was made by local builder Mark Brown has kicked off their goal to empower hundreds of thousands of special needs individuals as part of their campaign.

Brown, who lives and develops land in Mt. Juliet, recently donated $55,000 to Empower Me to support their efforts to meet the needs of local families with special needs children. Brown is the uncle of Bailey Brown, a 19-year-old camper from Lebanon, who has been participating with Empower Me for the past 12 years.

"Wilson County Schools has a done a great job for Bailey," Brown said. "However, those services do come to an end. There's a tremendous need for programs for special needs individuals and their families. Those families who do not have special needs children in their lives have no idea what the other parents go through. My children graduated from high school, went to college, got married and moved on. And I get to enjoy my life knowing my kids are out there on their own enjoying their own life.

"If you are a special needs parent, it's forever. Not only will these parents take care of their child long after high school, but many for the rest of their lives. And often their biggest fear is what happens to my child if something happens to me."

Enter Empower Me Center.

Empower Me is a nonprofit organization dedicated to meeting the needs of families for the past 17 years. Their mission is to empower special needs individuals to achieve their full potential in a community filled with possibilities, meeting their emotional and physical needs through love, acceptance, friendship and family, led by professional therapeutic staff.

They have offered a summer day camp, year-round recreational programs and respite care for hundreds of special needs families. With over 3,500 special needs individuals in Wilson County alone, the need is tremendous.

Empower Me's goal is to increase responsibility and independence, and develop a sense of spirituality in every individual. They value each individual's strengths and their differences and are dedicated to empowering these individuals to live fun, fulfilling, and productive lives.

Their vision is to inspire each individual to look beyond their current capabilities and explore their world with new-found confidence and with the knowledge that they each have a special gift to give this world.

Empower Me has spent the past 17 years at the James E. Ward Ag Center. Now with the approvals from the Lebanon City Planning Commission, they are working on raising funds to build a 37,000-square-foot building, recreational complex and supervised/independent living cottages on 16 acres of land on Carver Lane in Lebanon.

"We are so very grateful to Mr. Brown and his family," Michelle Hill, executive director of Empower Me, said. "We have been very blessed to have Bailey be a part of our organization and have enjoyed the gifts she has shared with us. Her beautiful smile and loving nature light up each room she enters."

Empower Me is asking for the entire community to get involved in this project through monetary gifts, in-kind donations, serving on committees and supporting their efforts by spreading the word and attending fund-raising efforts.

If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation, please visit

For more information about the project, please visit

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#community, disability, donation, Empower Me, Empower Me Day Camp, Lebanon Planning Commission, planning, special needs
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