1 The growth that we've seen under your leadership during the last 22 years is pretty remarkable. Please talk about that.
Although the YMCA was doing some great things in our community, we knew we had to grow for sustainability purposes, and we wanted to serve the entire community. We had a strategy to go where the people were, because at the time, downtown was not like it is today. We focused on programs and services. Twenty-two years ago, we talked a lot about helping to make Fort Wayne a better place to live, and I believe we have.
2 The Y's Youth Development Endowment Fund launched this spring seeks to raise $10 million. What will that money buy for this community?
Youth Development has always been a very important focus area for the YMCA. A prevention approach to Youth Development ... giving youth an opportunity to grow in spirit, mind and body is where our heart is. The net earnings from the Endowment Fund will be used to invest in youth programs. We will also give 25% of the net earnings to other youth serving organizations that align well with the YMCA's mission and cause.
3 How does this area compare with others in terms of pursuit of physical fitness?
I have witnessed significant, positive change over the years concerning wellness in our community. Physical fitness is just a part of overall wellness. When you consider the growth of the YMCA from 9,000 members to almost 90,000 members, the trail systems and events like Fort4Fitness, I believe Fort Wayne is among the best. When I travel, I intentionally critique other communities. I am always proud of what we have in Fort Wayne.
4 The Y has a ready audience of fitness enthusiasts. Do you help them recognize and address other health challenges?
As I mentioned earlier, we really talk in terms of being well in spirit, mind and body. We also focus on chronic disease prevention. We have programs for diabetes prevention, high blood pressure, cancer survivors and other lifestyle diseases. We believe we are a catalyst to improve a person's health, which helps us to fulfill our mission and cause.
5 What is it about the YMCA that you are proudest of?
I am most proud of the culture that the staff and volunteers have created. Two mottos we live by are “No one is turned away for the inability to pay” and “Our goal is to love, serve and care for all in our community.” We take this seriously, because it is very important, especially in today's world. We have also made great strides in serving the special-needs population and teens, which are currently part of our strategic plan. If we can harness the power of our members, staff and volunteers, we can continue to help the greater Fort Wayne area be a beautiful and unique place to live.