Many were involved in bringing the YMCA to Newton, but one individual in particular will soon be recognized for his efforts, as Newton Medical Center Chief Operating Officer Todd Tangeman was nominated for the Volunteer of the Year award to be handed out at the greater Wichita YMCA's upcoming annual celebration on Feb. 16.

Though Tangeman is quick to deflect the attention, noting it was truly a team effort to see the Y open in Newton this past fall, Newton YMCA branch manager Tera Thomas—who nominated Tangeman for the honor—spoke to his impact.

"I really wanted to recognize Todd because when I think about what it means to be a volunteer, he reflects it through his strategic leadership and his passion for the community," Thomas said. "I believe that Newton and Harvey County are better because he's here and he is such a connector within our county."

Connecting and facilitating were a big part of Tangeman's role in the drive to open the Newton YMCA. Once Newton Medical Center donated land for the facility in 2012, the long gestating efforts to bring the organization to town ramped up and a group of community stakeholders came together to help direct that. Tangeman quarterbacked the group, bringing the stakeholders together and organizing collaboration on the tasks at hand (i.e. fundraising).

Additionally, Thomas noted Tangeman helped build the YMCA's advisory board and offered NMC up as a central hub before the building officially opened, allowing Thomas to facilitate interviews and do some training with future staff at the medical center. Thomas said that Tangeman also personally helped her get established in the community to drive the YMCA's mission forward.

"He kind of opened some doors for me that probably would've been a little bit more difficult or taken a little bit more time without his support," Thomas said.

Providing that support was an easy call for Tangeman. While he noted he may have initially gotten involved because of his role within the hospital, the YMCA's mission resonated with him and drove his continued commitment.

Focusing on improving and transforming lives through wellness programs doesn't stop with the YMCA for Tangeman, either. He noted a personal health push started him down that road 15 years ago and eventually led him to become very involved in the Newton community upon moving to the area 10 years ago.

On top of his work with the YMCA, Tangeman also works with the hospital's own wellness program, several school initiatives in USD 373, Healthy Harvey, the Newton Kiwanis and Rotary clubs and the Newton Chamber of Commerce. With the schools and chamber of commerce, that involvement may include providing healthy food options at the groups' gatherings.

While his work plays a role in helping those organizations, Tangeman noted he is very invested in such community efforts personally.

"For me, it was natural to promote a greater wellness program for our employees, so when I hear about Healthy Harvey, I get that," Tangeman said. "That's part of my story, so I can get involved there on a personal level as well as representing the hospital."

Personal success stories Tangeman has seen also keep him going in his work outside of NMC, to further the wellness of the community.

Seeing those efforts pay off can be very rewarding no matter the avenue, which is why he encourages anyone to make a similar commitment both for themselves and their fellow citizens.

"Newton is a great community because of the people who are here," Tangeman said, "so I would encourage folks to get involved in some degree with something that they feel is important to them."