Dennis Schoenebeck, General Executive of the Greater Wichita YMCA

Splurge! Person of the Year 2012


In its January edition, Splurge! announced its 12 people to watch for 2012. As the year closes, Splurge! has selected Dennis Schoenebeck, General Executive of the Greater Wichita YMCA, as the 2012 Splurge! Person of the Year.

It would be difficult to come up with the name of someone who spearheads more projects that affect more Wichitans than does Dennis Schoenebeck, General Executive of the Greater Wichita YMCA. After a year filled with the completion of a large handful of facility developments, Schoenebeck reflected on 2012.

“It has been busy. It’s hard to pick one thing that stands out above the others.”

During 2012, the Greater Wichita YMCA organization completed a series of projects that are being funded by a $40 million capital campaign. In December, the $23 million Robert D. Love Downtown YMCA will open for business after 18 months of construction.

The new facility, located at 402 N. Market, will replace the Central YMCA building currently in operation. The 110,000 square foot facility will feature a spacious lobby and meeting areas, a Kidzone, a café called Café 402 with grab-and-go eating selections, pools, two gymnasiums, a walking track with a third-floor view and more. “In my estimation it will probably be the nicest downtown Y in the country,” Schoenebeck said.

Other 2012 projects included the expansion of the Northwest Branch YMCA, the expansion and the renovation at the Devore South YMCA Complex, including the addition of a turf field at the Garvey Outdoor Sport Complex and the expansion of the Farha Sports Center.

In addition, the YMCA expanded Camp Hyde, located west of Wichita, by expanding its lake and adding a sand beach, a nature center which doubles as a FEMA shelter, an outdoor pool and an equestrian area. Finally, the organization remodeled the East Branch YMCA facility.

Even though the fundraising campaign is wrapping up, development will not stop at the end of the year. The YMCA recently broke ground on two additional turf fields at the Garvey Outdoor Sport Complex, expected to be completed by March 1, and more are planned.

“I don’t really look back that much,” Schoenebeck said. “I look forward more. You work hard. It’s a hoot for me to work in and visit some branches in the evening and see kids and families, people enjoying themselves. That’s very rewarding.”

Schoenebeck joined the Greater Wichita YMCA organization in 1990. At the time, the YMCA served 20,000 total area people and today it serves about 270,000 people. The YMCA serves two out of three Wichita children with a goal to serve three out of four. “The biggest change I’ve seen is that the Y today is seen as a place for everyone, and what I mean is, it’s all income levels, all ethnic groups, and, maybe most importantly, people who are out of shape and maybe years ago who would’ve felt uncomfortable coming to the Y, one of the big changes is we see is a lot of people – and we feel real good about this – people feel comfortable coming to Y when they aren’t in the best shape and achieving their goals.”

Also during 2012, the YMCA completed a strategic plan called Vision 2020, and one of its major goals is to increase the number of volunteers both within the YMCA organization and within the community. “We see ourselves as a vehicle to engage and help mobilize participants in the Y to help get involved in the community at large,” Schoenebeck said. “It’s not easy, but it’s something we think is really needed and will have a significant impact on the community.”

Despite having led more than $140 million in capital improvements since Schoenebeck took over as General Executive, he is quick to pass credit on to the many volunteers and employees who help make the YMCA run. “It takes a team pulling together over a long period of time,” he said. “With a project like the new downtown Y … you don’t do that by yourself.”

Schoenebeck said he and his team will work to continue to improve one of the nation’s best YMCA systems. “You want to constantly improve what we’re doing,” he said. “We will continue to do more and be an even bigger part of the community.”

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