Involvement is a way of life

May 17, 2008

WAPAKONETA - Ruth Knous is involved in a number of community groups. She believes being an active volunteer is not only a part of her job but a way of life. Knous is the chief executive officer at the Wapakoneta YMCA."The YMCA is a community-active place," said Knous, 43. "Being in this business, everything I do involves giving back to the community. (Being a volunteer) is a natural fit for what I do at the YMCA."My dad (the Rev. John Bloss) always taught me that's what you do. It's never been a question as to why participate. It's what you do. You give back and help others."Knous, who grew up in Oklahoma, has been CEO at the Wapakoneta YMCA for six years. Her career with the organization spans 20 years. She started at the Auglaize/Mercer Family Y, in Celina, and then worked for four years at the Greater Toledo YMCA before taking the leadership role at Wapakoneta.The YMCA offers a number of programs to the community, including health and wellness, child care, aquatics and sports. The agency's latest endeavor is an expansion that will house a wellness center and community space for adults and youth. The wellness center will include cardio and strength building equipment."The wellness center will have 35 state-of-the-art cardiovascular machines, the latest and greatest equipment," Knous said. "The youth center will be a safe place for teens to hang out with friends with things like interactive videos, ‘Dance Revolution' and Wii."Construction on new addition began in April and is scheduled for completion in August."It's wonderful," Knous said. "It's very needed. We've been bursting at the seams since we opened (in 2000). It's good to be able to give them what they need."Knous also is on the board of directors at the Wapakoneta Chamber of Commerce, president of the Wapakoneta Rotary Club and a member of Wayne Street United Methodist Church, in St. Marys. She has been with the church's bell choir for five years, but she is taking a break to get a degree in business administration from Mount Vernon Nazarene College, in Lima."I'm taking this year and next year off from the bell choir because practices are the same night as my classes, but as soon as I'm done with school, I'm going back," Knous said. "It's a way to stay connected with music. I love still being a part of something in music."When Knous first went to college, she studied music education. She played piano and French horn.As Rotary president, Knous spearheads a number of projects, including concerts in the park, festivals, mission projects to Mexico and Romania, scholarships, raffles and an annual pancake day."I'm chairing the Pancake Day this year," Knous said. "It's in October on the first Thursday. From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. we'll serve 1,400 pancake meals. That' a lot of pancakes and sausage."Knous and her husband, Tom, have two children, Tom the third, 23, and Tyson, 20. Knous' hobbies include cross-stitching.