Bennett has been growing along with the YMCA for three decades

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Merv Bennett joined the YMCA during 1972 as assistant director of physical education.

Merv Bennett joined the YMCA during 1972 as assistant director of physical education.

Merv Bennett knows all the YMCA programs – and he should, he’s been working for the organization in the Pikes Peak region for more than 36 years.

He moved to Colorado Springs during 1972 to take a job as assistant director of physical education – and he’s never left.

Bennett recently took time to tell CSBJ about himself and his organization.

Organization: YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region

Position: President/CEO

Hometown: La Junta

How long have you lived in Colorado Springs: 36 years

Education: Bachelor’s degree in biology from Anderson University, Anderson, Ind.

A few words about your company: The YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region has served the Pikes Peak region for 130 years by providing programs and services that build strong kids, strong families and strong communities.

We serve more than 115,000 individuals annually. We operate nine centers and in several schools, utilizing nearly 3,300 volunteers.

Our mission – To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all – has remained constant since our founding in Colorado Springs during 1878.

Recent accomplishments: During July 2008 we opened our newest full YMCA facility in Tri-Lakes. This center currently has 13,000 members and brings critical family development and healthy lifestyle services to a portion of the community that was without.

We also will break ground during August for our new dining hall at YMCA Camp Shady Brook. It will replace a 100-year-old building that will be renovated into a program center.

Biggest career break: Being hired in September 1972 at the Pikes Peak YMCA as assistant director of physical education.

I have experienced a career filled with excitement, fulfillment and gratification while being surrounded by the finest community leaders and staff; all with a common value system and passion for service to others.

The toughest part of your job: In almost any community, the needs exceed the resources. Our community is no different.

Although the Pikes Peak region is very compassionate and giving, we need to work more collaboratively among private industry, government, nonprofits, faith-based groups and schools to ensure that all people have the opportunity to embrace healthy lifestyles.

Someone you admire: I admire many, but I work to model my life after the teachings of Jesus Christ.

About your family: I have been married for 38 years to Roseann. We have three married daughters and two beautiful grandchildren.

Something else you’d like to accomplish: I am most proud of the Southeast Armed Services YMCA because it is a testament to what an outstanding partnership between the city, a school district (Harrison District 2) and the YMCA can accomplish.

Our next project will be even more exciting with a new facility (within the next three to four years) in the Powers corridor on Tutt Boulevard.

This project will include a full-service YMCA, a full-service library and a branch of the Fine Arts Center – all on dedicated park property provided by the City of Colorado Springs. The site will include youth sports artificial turf ball fields and playgrounds.

All of this will be tied into the city trails system to ensure that it can be reached and utilized by all.

How your business will change during the next decade: As the needs of the community change, the YMCA will need to change to ensure those needs are met in a manner that maintains the strength of the family and embraces and includes all people.

We will need to look for new ways to engage people and empower relationship building.

I believe the answer to the current health care issue can be addressed, in part, by a stronger commitment to healthy lifestyles. This needs to be taught to our children at the earliest opportunity.

What book are you currently reading? I am in between books. I just finished “The Shack” and “The Worst Hard Times.”

What is the one thing you would change about Colorado Springs? I would like to see our finest leadership talent answer the call to service. I believe our community would value and support bold leadership.