A lot has changed since Marty Pastura first started working for the YMCA in 1978. Back then, the focus centered on fitness; he primarily taught members how to use the gym equipment. Now, as he prepares for the end of his tenure after 40 years, he recalls how the organization has evolved.
“We’re more than ‘gym and swim.’ When people only know you for a certain thing, it’s hard to change that perception,” Pastura explains. “I want the Y to be known for the array of things that we do to help young people develop and reach their full potential. The wide range of programs we’ve initiated have a deeper impact and empower people to lead meaningful lives. Not that we weren’t impactful back then, but when we talk about wellness now, we also focus on chronic disease prevention. It’s not all about fitness. We don’t really use the word fitness too much anymore. It’s about overall wellness in spirit, mind and body.”
After developing YMCAs in Lansing, Michigan, and Charleston, West Virginia, the Cincinnati native moved to Indiana to become the president & CEO of the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne, a position he’s held for 22 years. During his tenure, the association has expanded from about 200 employees to 1,500, the budget grew from $4 million to $24 million, and membership spiked from 9,000 to nearly 90,000 currently. Today, the YMCA of Greater Fort Wayne serves Allen, Whitley and Wells counties with eight membership branches plus three youth-focused branches: YMCA Childcare Services, YMCA Youth Service Bureau and YMCA Camp Potawotami.
“I get a lot of accolades about all the buildings we’ve constructed and the money we’ve raised and that type of thing, but I’m really proud of the culture we’ve been able to create that helps us to fulfill our mission,” Pastura says. “Our mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all. Our cause is to strengthen the foundation of our community.”
Local attorney Tom Kimbrough has been a YMCA board member for nearly four decades. He agrees with Pastura, noting that the CEO’s impact has been much greater than the structures that house the programs.
“I think from a physical standpoint, that is definitely his greatest legacy, that we built six Ys during his tenure,” says Kimbrough. “I think that his individual legacy has been his involvement in the greater Fort Wayne area as a whole. One of the challenges we gave him when he came on as CEO was to get involved and to get visibility and he did it four-fold. There’s not a community leader or business leader that doesn’t know Marty and doesn’t think favorably of him. When you talk about legacy – to have that kind of respect in this area, I think anybody would be proud of that. He helped put us on the map.”
Pastura, who has a teaching degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, says he never planned to work for the Y for his entire career, but is thankful that it’s the path he’s chosen.
“In my 40 years, there have probably been less than 10 days that I can remember, where I did not want to come to work,” he says with a smile. “One of the things that I realized as I got older was that it never felt difficult to come to work because I enjoy it. I’ve been asked to take on other jobs over the years, but I’ve always known that I needed a purpose behind what I do. The mission of the Y fits me well.”
Though Pastura is officially retiring from his role as president and CEO at the end of the year, he will continue with the Y as a consultant, focusing on raising money for a new endowment called the Youth Development Legacy Fund. The funds will go toward programs for kids and teens to help them make good choices and lead them on a path to success. Pastura says he can’t imagine not staying involved.
“The YMCA has been more than a job.” he concludes. “It’s really been a calling. I truly see this as a ministry because we have the opportunity to transform people’s lives.”
Address: 347 W. Berry St., Suite 500 Fort Wayne, Indiana 46802
Phone: (260) 422-6488