Coffee with…Joanne McManus, Tukwila’s irrepressible community volunteer

It’s hard not to spot Joanne McManus around town, whether she’s at the Neighborhood Resource Center, the Tukwila Community Center or City Hall. The active volunteer makes phone calls, gives out directions and assists with crime reports a couple of days per week at the resource center along Tukwila International Boulevard.

Meet Joanne McManus

It’s hard not to spot Joanne McManus around town, whether she’s at the Neighborhood Resource Center, the Tukwila Community Center or City Hall.

The active volunteer makes phone calls, gives out directions and assists with crime reports a couple of days per week at the resource center along Tukwila International Boulevard.

McManus, 75, also is a city parks commissioner and regularly participates in activities at the Tukwila Community Center. She attends City Council meetings every Monday because “somebody’s got to keep them straight.”

She has no plans to cut back her volunteer work, even after eight knee surgeries over the years.

“I’m going to keep going,” said McManus, who uses a cane. “My family told me I’ve got to slow down. But I was just at my doctor’s and I told him I didn’t want to slow down. He told me to keep it up as long as I can do it.”

While her husband Bob McManus has had to cut back his volunteer work because of medical reasons, Joanne continues to go full speed.

“It feels good when you’re helping somebody,” McManus said. “You do what you can to help people in your area.”

At the resource center, McManus spends as many as four hours per day, twice a week handling a variety of duties, including assisting people who are simply looking for directions.

“They ask where the light-rail station is and it’s only up a few blocks,” she said.

Other people stop by the center in need of emergency help.

“I call 911 for them,” McManus said. “One time I had a domestic-violence case and I had to put the man in one room, the wife in another and the kids in a separate room. I’ll never forget when one little boy told me ‘my daddy always hits my mommy.’ It breaks your heart.”

McManus was born in Seattle, grew up in Burien and graduated from Highline High School. She has three children, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She has lived more than 30 years in Tukwila.

She always has had a strong passion for parks and became a parks commissioner in 1999 to help make recommendations to the City Council.

“We keep fighting to keep things current,” McManus said about the parks program. “We need parks for people, especially with the economy the way it is. People can’t afford expensive things. But they can go to a park for recreation and picnics.”

The trips to City Council meetings continue to be a ritual for McManus.

“I’ve been going so many years I don’t remember,” McManus said about when she started attending the meetings. “A lot of times things come up but people wait until it’s in the laws before they complain. I like to voice an opinion so the council knows how I feel. We just keep an eye on everything going on and if we feel it’s not good for the city, we talk against it.”

McManus opposes any cuts to the all-night basketball tournament in Tukwila offered each fall for youth, as well as the numerous activities for senior citizens at the community center. She also wants the city to keep the Tukwila Pool open and not cut back the hours at the resource center.

“If we don’t voice our opinions, nobody on the council knows what we think,” she said. “A lot of younger people don’t go to council meetings to voice their opinions. We try to make up for the people who don’t show up and steer the Council in a direction we are proud of.”

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