Tom Sisler, YMCA executive director

Tom Sisler, Ottumwa YMCA CEO expressed his excitement for exceeding the $98,000 for this year’s campaign, Building More than Just Muscle.

OTTUMWA — Ottumwa YMCA CEO Tom Sisler was over the moon after the YMCA exceeded its $98,000 goal for its annual campaign. This year’s Building More than Just Muscle campaign made $113,000.

“It’s a great feeling to know that we achieved what we set out to do,” he said with a smile. “It’s a great feeling to have the support of the community behind an organization like the YMCA that touches the lives of so many people.”

A month ago, the YMCA had raised between $70,000 and $74,000. At that point, Sisler didn’t think it would only take a month to meet the goal, let alone exceed it.

“I was hoping that it would happen,” he said, “trusting that it would happen and I think that’s where having so many volunteers and people involved [helped] because to make that $113,000 took a lot of work and effort.”

Sisler said the summer golf tournament and the YMCA annual dinner and auction fundraiser at Indian Hills were the two biggest events that helped transcend the goal.

In fundraising, YMCA had to also deal with high utility bills and breakdowns of equipment. The funds raised will go toward the bills, equipment and helping the cost of different programs, especially the two newest ones: the STEM program and Rock Steady Boxing Program.

“The success of the campaign shows the appreciation and the understanding,” Sisler said, “that the community does have to say, ‘Yes, it does cost money to have something like this in our community and we’re willing to support that effort.’”

Sisler said the campaign help with costs but provides another opportunity, too.

“The greatest thing about the annual campaign is — it has two main goals,” he said. “Yes it does raise money to help pay for programs and needed bills that we need to pay. But the best part about it? It’s an opportunity for us to tell the YMCA story to the community and show them or tell them about the programming that we do each and every day.”

For Sisler, one important way in showcasing the YMCA is to tell people about the YMCA’s four core values: honesty, caring, respect and responsibility.

“Those are the four great universal values,” he said, “and they’re always good. When is there ever a time when it’s OK to be disrespectful or not caring or not take responsibility for what you’re doing? It’s never OK. I mean those four core values are such strong messages we have to keep teaching. We have to keep emphasizing that and showing that.”

Although this year’s campaign is completed, Sisler said he is waiting to hear back from organizations that expressed interest in providing grants. For now, he and the employees just want to take the time to celebrate the accomplishment.

“The success of an organization like a YMCA takes the efforts of a lot of people,” he said. “I am so grateful that we have volunteers and staff here at the Y and people in our community who care about our community to make a place like the YMCA strong and meaningful. Nothing makes me happier than when we can bring all these people together to make these efforts happen and people sharing their time, talents and their treasures.”

Chiara Romero can be reached at


Recommended for you