SUMNER, Wash. – A Sumner police officer had a vision to take a once dilapidated and seedy skate park and transform it into a community destination.
“It was run down, it was a place where no one wanted to be. Kids and adults were coming here doing unsavory things,” Sumner Officer Matt Eller explained.
On an August day in 2018, Officer Kevin Martin and about 15 community members rolled up their sleeves to slap on $3,500 worth of yellow and purple paint – Sumner High School's colors.
Joann Witler, founder of the faith-based charity Mother 2 Many, watched the transformation from the front row. Mother 2 Many provides outreach to skate parks and the kids that frequent them.
“Skateboard kids have a reputation, and we wanted to show that those kids are just kids that need a little extra help and need to know people care about them and they’re not forgotten,” Wittler explained.
Every Monday and Wednesday, volunteers feed up to 200 kids at the Bill Heath Sports Complex, with a focus on homeless youth.
“People think homelessness is kids living in car or tents, but there are a lot of kids to go home to no parents or no food, and to me, that’s homeless too,” Wittler added. “Just because kids have a skateboard doesn’t mean they're bad kids. Don’t ever judge a person by their cover. You’d be surprised by how amazing each one of those kids are.”
Next time you’re in Sumner, drive by the skate park located off Washington. You’d be hard-pressed not to find someone in uniform.
“Skating out here, just stopping and talking to them, instead of just driving by, letting them see the human side of you. That’s where you break down the stereotypes. That’s where you get your future law enforcement and leaders of America,” Officer Eller said.
Who knew that little idea Officer Martin had would not only breathe life into this park but into the entire community.
The Sumner skate park is open every day from 8 a.m. until dark and is monitored by video feed in the Sumner Police Department.