Excited about the potential.

That’s how Ben Coffey, the new CEO for the Tri-State Family YMCA, sums up his feelings related to future plans.

Coffey, who assumed the role as CEO June 1, oversees the branches in Grove and Neosho. Butch Christy, who was serving as interim CEO, remains the branch manager for the Grove location.

"[The Grand Lake Family YMCA] has a long history of strong support from this community, through folks pouring themselves into it," Coffey said. "To be part of that is exciting."

"We want to be relevant to the community. Welcoming and inclusive."

Coffey said the Grand Lake Family YMCA is more than "just a fitness center."

Its programs - outside of the physical walls - include the after school program at the Grove Lower Elementary School, volleyball at Grace Harbor Baptist Church, pickleball at the Grove Community Center, and of course various games at the Grove Sports Complex.

More about Coffey

Coffey comes to Grove after working within the Kansas City YMCA program, as the branch manager for the Blue Springs, Missouri location.

"I had vacationed a lot in this area and really liked this region," Coffey said. "This YMCA, in particular, has a strong history of philanthropy. 

"There's lots of potential to what we can do, to further the scope of services within the community."

Coffey said the YMCA staff has a calling to help improve the quality of life within a community. 

Coffey and his wife, Tricia, have three children: Barron, 5, Waylon, 3-1/2, and Autumn, 10 months. 

He will work out of the Neosho branch, but plans to be in Grove at least two days a week.

Coffey said he hopes to continue to increase the presence of the YMCA within the Grove community.

"We want to serve as many people as possible," Coffey said.

Some of his goals for the coming year include expanding services, especially for youth in the community.

"Society is changing rapidly," Coffey said. "We want to be a positive influence in someone's life."

He also wants to find the gaps which exist within the community, and work to fill them - using Grove's philanthropic culture as a base.

Ultimately, Coffey said, he wants to see the YMCA grow in numbers - not only in membership, but also in the number of children involved in the sports programs, summer day camps and after school programing.

"We want to be the most welcoming Y in our region," Coffey said. "We need to figure out how to do that."

This fall, Coffey and Christy will begin formulating a long-range plan along with the site's board of directors. This will include conducting a "community assessment" to determine what the needs and wants are for the area.

Christy said he hopes to expand programing for the "tween" age group of 10-to 13-year-olds. Y officials are piloting a program this fall offering strength and weight training to a group of students within this age range.

"The big thing is that we want to fulfill all of our promises," Coffey said. "We want to make a commitment to the community to encourage healthy living, social responsibility and youth development."