By Tim Ashley
WARSAW — When growing up in Columbus, Ohio, Ben Keffer was interested in drawing and art and had parents who were very supportive of his interests. He had aspirations to be an animator for Disney.
“There were a lot of opportunities for art for kids in Columbus,” Keffer said, who is now the director of marketing and fund development for the Parkview Warsaw YMCA. “I got into summer art programs at the Columbus College of Art and Design.”
Drawing and designing have been passions of his for several years and when he is not working at the Y, he can often be found working in his printmaking shop that was converted from a detached garage next to his house. He does fine art print making and is one of the featured artists of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art where they sell his art such as big posters, big prints on wood panels and hand drawn designs.
He also attends 10 to 12 art shows each year, including the Winona Lake Art Fair.
Although he grew up in Ohio, Keffer enrolled at Indiana Wesleyan University. He attended a private Christian high school in Columbus and a guidance counselor there recommended IWU. Keffer did attend an art school in Cincinnati during his freshman year of college “but I didn’t really like it.”
While at Indiana Wesleyan, from where he graduated in 2007 and studied painting and art education, a friend from Warsaw who had started the MudLove ceramics studio in Warsaw asked Keffer to move there and help him. He accepted the offer and worked at MudLove for three years. Just prior to that, he had taught art at the Challenge Foundation Academy, a charter school in Indianapolis.
After working at MudLove, Keffer took a position with Kessler Crane, a company in Plymouth that manufactures motion control robotics controlling cameras for the movie industry. He was the graphic designer and marketing director at Kessler Crane for three years.
At that time Ben’s wife, Nicole, who is friends with Y employees, informed him a position was open at the Y. “It seemed like something I was interested in,” he said, and began as marketing director in December 2018.
Promoting the YMCA through the website, emails or press releases is a big part of his role. “Anything visual about the Y comes through my desk,” he said. “I am communicating with the staff about what is going on.”
There is also building and maintaining the website.
Fund development has been more of a challenge for him “because I didn’t have the experience” with fundraising and it has been more of a learning curve. The YMCA is nonprofit and must raise funds every year to keep operating.
“We do financial assistance for families so everyone can come here,” Keffer said. In 2020, even in the midst of a global pandemic the Y was able to met its fundraising goal and $131,000 was raised.
Ben and Nicole have two children: a son Lucas, 4, and a daughter Quinn, 2. The family is seeking a church home and have visited some local churches.