Katy Bess Inspires a Vibrant Path to Wellness and Community Support.

by | Oct 2023

IN THE face of adversity, Katy Bess found her path to wellness and a vibrant, healthy lifestyle. Today, Bess is not only a beacon of inspiration but a source of invaluable experiences, wisdom, and countless volunteer opportunities for her community. 

Bess’s journey began with a simple desire — to be the best version of herself for her children and community. She discovered the transformative power of running, a mental escape where she could clear her mind and find solace. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when local gyms and churches closed their doors, Bess turned to podcasts, virtual church services, and prayer during her runs. It was during these moments of solitude that she found strength and renewal. 

Born in Norfolk, Virginia, Bess grew up as a military child, but in the town of Manchester, where her family eventually settled when she was just 4 years old, she found her true home. She often dreamt of raising her children and opening a gym, a dream she and her husband turned into reality just a few years ago. 

Reflecting on her decision to establish her roots in Manchester, Bess remarked, “So many people lately are focused on bringing businesses back and cleaning up the square. It’s just got something special about it.” 

Photographed by Ashleigh Newnes.

She continued, “Everybody here looks out for each other and tries to keep their businesses going.” 

In this spirit of unity, Bess founded her organization, Empower. Inspired by her experiences at Experience Church in Tullahoma, where she witnessed the transformative power of missions and raising funds for initiatives abroad, Bess quickly realized the pressing need for similar efforts on home soil. 

“There are just so many things here at home that need attention. And people here at home who are suffering or can’t afford groceries and things like that,” Bess explained. 

Empower’s journey began at Bess’s family’s gym, where an annual Thanksgiving morning run served as a platform for giving back. Each participant brought food or donated money to support the Store House Food Pantry. The initiative gained traction, and more people became involved, leading Bess, Misty Garrett, and Holly Peterson to organize a 5K run, silent auction, and fundraiser to aid businesses after a devastating fire affected Woodland Plaza. Their combined efforts garnered $15,000 to help these businesses get back on their feet. 

At Bess’s gym, workouts are not just about physical fitness but about fostering a supportive community. Bess provides a safe space for women to prioritize their own well-being amidst their busy lives as mothers and caretakers. The 30-minute workouts also allow time for women to connect with one another while their children are supervised. 

Photographed by Ashleigh Newnes.

The essence of Empower lies in its mission to cultivate a tight-knit community that offers support and engages in meaningful activities to uplift others. While the organization initially focused on empowering women, it is now open to anyone passionate about service. The organization dedicates itself to community service, fundraising, and helping those facing challenges. 

A recent trip marked a significant milestone for Empower as they embarked on their first service endeavor beyond their previous fundraising and benefit events. 

“We went to Isaiah House, and it was life-changing. It was eye-opening that a place like that is badly needed in our small area. You don’t realize how many kids are affected or taken away from their families.” 

As a mother of three, a business owner, and an organizational leader, Bess understands the importance of determination and resilience when facing life’s challenges. She has made it her life’s mission to persevere for her children and as a role model for her community. 

“You see people becoming healthier and more confident about themselves. You see people change, not just physically, but mentally.” 

She continued, “I want my kids to be involved and do things that make a difference. Kids are so innocent and don’t see race or color. And I want them to always know they’re here to help people. That’s their main goal — to be a productive, caring person.” 

As the city continues to flourish, Bess hopes to fulfill the needs of community members and create a place where everyone feels seen, heard, and supported. This is the essence of Empower — an unwavering commitment to making a difference in the lives of those around them. 

In a world that often seems divided, Empower’s journey continues, guided by the heartfelt commitment to uplift others and transform lives — one act of kindness at a time. GN 

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