OTTUMWA — Since the late 1800s, the Ottumwa YMCA has never gotten tired of making a difference in the community.
This year’s annual YMCA campaign is called Building More than Just Muscle. Its goal for this year is to raise $98,000. Currently, funds sit between $70,000 and $74,000.
Ottumwa YMCA CEO Tom Sisler said they have had numerous generous donations and fundraisers like summer golf tournaments to meet the goal. They also have an upcoming dinner and auction fundraiser Oct. 11 at Indian Hills.
“There will be great meals, activities and a raffle and a chance to hear about what we are doing for kids and family,” Sisler said.
Sisler said all fundraisers center around three Ottumwa YMCA goals. The first is to be accessible for service in Wapello County, second to provide program assistance and the third is to receive funding to keep costs down.
“We have people of all ages come to our building from infants to 92-year-olds,” Sisler said. “It’s important to have people involved in good social, recreational activities. It gives them the self-esteem to make them more involved and be a healthy community.”
A healthy community is a goal for Sisler, but he also hopes residents will realize the YMCA extends far beyond a fitness center.
“A lot of people think of the Y as a gym and a swimming pool,” Sisler said. “It’s that, but it’s so much more than that. A lot of that is the different kinds of programs that we offer for all people in the community where everyone can get involved from young kids all the way up to seniors and everybody in between. It’s a challenge to get that word out there, that we are so much more, but it’s worth it.”
Funds will be put into improving the building and different departments like the new STEM program and ongoing early childhood care programs.
“With the annual campaign, it usually differs a little each year,” Sisler said. “This year we are a little more involved with a program like STEM, especially because it is our newest. It’s continually changing and embracing those needs so we can be a relevant organization.”
Another recent program started was the Parkinson’s Rock Steady Boxing Program. Sisler said the YMCA plans to put funds into this program as well continue to help those affected with Parkinson’s as well as to bringing them together. “A huge thing is teaching them how to fall properly,” Sisler said, “how to get back up and see them and support them. This makes a difference in day-to-day living.”
Sisler said in order to keep this campaign going, it’s up to not only different organizations to donate but also up to him and the board of directors to look at the trends of the program and see how the needs can be improved. These needs are what encourages different people to donate. For Sisler, the campaign really is about helping the community.
“YMCA is part of the community and the community is part of the YMCA,” Sisler said. “They go hand in hand. The campaign is important because it continues to allow that accessibility. Personal donations from people, services and clubs help out a lot. This is a great example of a collaborative spirit to make something happen for everyone.”