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News & Stories


60 Years of Specialized Recreation – Time to Celebrate!

GMPF is proud to support Metro Parks Specialized Recreation program, the state’s largest and oldest recreation program for people with disabilities.  It started as a summer program for kids in the 1950s.  Then, recreation programs for adults with disabilities began in 1977, taking over a city-run, evening-and-weekend social program.

Specialized Recreation currently serves nearly 500 people annually in about 135 different programs. More than half of the participants live outside Tacoma, many in group homes.

Parents and guardians of Specialized Recreation participants are uniformly grateful. Sharon Hanson, a mother of four disabled adults now in their 50s, called the Specialized Recreation program a godsend and the staff, fantastic. “I’ve yet to meet one that doesn’t have (my children’s) best interests at heart,” she said.

For many participants, the social contacts are crucial. Ed Vandenberg brings his daughter Katie, 35, to various Specialized Recreation sports programs. “It gives her a chance to meet her friends. It’s a very important part of her life.”

Supporters and participants in Metro Parks Specialized Recreation programs will celebrate the program’s long history with a dinner, dancing and silent auction at STAR Center this Saturday, October 10th, 6-9pm.

More information and complete story at:


Thank You, REI, for Mountain Bike Trail Grant

Outdoor gear retailer REI has given the Greater Metro Parks Foundation $20,000 to help build the second phase of the mountain bike trail system in Metro Parks Tacoma’s Swan Creek Park.

Metro Parks will use the grant for the construction of about 2 ½ miles of additional trails in the park’s 50-acre woodland area, where a 2-mile trail system opened in March 2014. The system is a magnet for local riders, who have logged an estimated 7,800 visits. With the expansion, Metro Parks plans to create a regional attraction that will lure mountain bike enthusiasts with the opportunity for hourlong rides through progressively challenging Swan Creek terrain.

The trail system is being designed, built and maintained through a relationship with the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, a nonprofit which is the state’s largest mountain bike organization. Plans for the second phase of the project are now complete and construction is expected to begin in the fall, Brady said. The funding from REI will pay the alliance for construction materials, oversight, and recruitment and management of volunteer trail builders. Other capital expenses related to the second phase of construction will come from the $198 million bond issue approved by Metro Parks voters in April 2014.


What the Eastside Said

In April, over 350 people came together in 31 small group Community Cafés to talk about what they would like to see in a community center and pool.  Here is what they said.


Eastside expresses need for Community Center

In April there were 31 conversations in the Eastside of Tacoma, with 342 participants, touching on the critical needs for programs to serve the community. Called Community Cafés, they were self-organized conversations answering five questions, with groups ranging in size from 5 to 32.  These conversations are essential to hearing the collective voice of the Eastside and will be used to refine the program elements and design of the Eastside community center and pool.  

Metro Parks Tacoma has received letters of commitment toward construction of a new Eastside community center and pool from the City of Tacoma, Tacoma Public Schools, and Tacoma Housing Authority. The Boys and Girls Club and YMCA have submitted letters of intent to provide programming. Accordingly, the Metro Parks Board of Commissioners approved a contract with an architectural firm to begin program and building design for the center.

Using feedback from the Cafés and previous outreach efforts, Metro Parks and its partners will finalize the program priorities and community partnerships in the next few months.  From there, design work will begin towards the goal of opening the center in 2017.


Supporting Metro Parks programs

One goal of the Greater Metro Parks Foundation is to raise money for Metro Parks Tacoma programs. These donations help to enhance the quality and accessibility of these fun, healthy and educational programs so more children and families can enjoy these deeply valued opportunities.

Twice a year the Foundation presents the Metro Parks board of commissioners with a check representing our recent fundraising efforts. On January 26th, we were honored to present a check for $65,000.

We shared stories of our donors and of the participants who benefit from this support. This check represented donations from hundreds of supporters; their generosity enriches and sustains Metro Parks programs including Adaptive Recreation, Specialized Recreation, Youth Sports, Arts, Nature Education Programs and more.

Special thanks to the following who gave to support Metro Parks programs:

The employees of Metro Parks Tacoma through their Legacy Campaign, The Baker Foundation, The Bamford Foundation, The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, Comcast Foundation, The Gary E. Milgard Family Foundation, The Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, REI, Tacoma Rainiers and Wells Fargo Foundation.

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