He estimates that the nondenominational church has worked with more than 1,000 youth since it started, connecting with many programs and teaching teens about job training, budgeting, respect and more. One way is through an overnight campout with a variety of activities for youth that has been held at the lake. COVID-19 paused the event, but Beatty hopes to restart it.
Programs at the lake give young people structure, skills and insights into what their future could hold, he said. And when the pandemic caused many churches to close their doors, the lake came to the rescue in a different way. Gettysburg Fishing Lake hosted open-air worship services where three or four churches would come together, a minister would preach, and the group would cook food.
“Everyone would have a great time together,” said Beatty, who plans to have additional outdoor services.
For Arbor Day in April, the church along with WM made even more improvements at the lake, adding flower beds and plants to attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
Judith Philpot calls Beatty both a friend and an inspiration. Philpot, who has known Beatty for about 40 years, nominated him as a Dayton Daily News Community Gem.
Beatty is dedicated both to his church and to his whole community, she said. He is ready to help whoever is in need, and he tries to bring out the best in others.
“Life can be beautiful, but it’s what you make of it,” Philpot said. “That’s the way Ril is.”
She, too, sees how much he helps and encourages young people and knows how hard he works at the lake.
“He wants to let them know that you have a future, but in this future, you have to work hard at what you want out of life,” said Philpot, of Harrison Township.
Beatty, who lives in Dayton, said he has had a good life but knows there are many people in the world who are hurting. He wants to help lighten the loads of others and serve the community. After all, Jesus wasn’t always found in a church, he said.
“Church is good, but the church being in the community is even better,” Beatty said.