Better than a Rusty Nail

Drew Ebersole leads the Metro Parks Foundation

By Jamie Forsythe on January 31, 2008

Drew Ebersole has a contagious smile and brown wavy hair that looks like a movie star’s, which is no surprise as he’s starred in several films and TV shows. He guest starred in the hit shows “ER,” “Dharma and Greg,” “Jag” and “That 70s Show.” He was also in a few feature films including “Cry Baby” and the “Infinity,” directed by Mathew Broderick.  


Although the Baltimore native liked acting in TV and film, theater was what he enjoyed most. Ebersole’s favorite roles include Clifford in “Side Man” and Hamlet in “Hamlet.” He also performed in professional plays on and off Broadway in New York.

However, theater wasn’t his true love; it was serving others. Being of service is something he’s been doing in one capacity or another all his life, but it wasn’t enough for Ebersole to volunteer in his free time. “I was getting more satisfaction out of working with young people” and helping others than acting,” he said. That’s when he decided to pack his bags and move from L.A. to Boise, Idaho, with a handful of his acting friends.

Of course, Ebersole’s agent was kicking and screaming for the promising young actor to come back. However, acting wasn’t the life for him anymore. Ebersole said he wanted to serve others rather than feed his own ego. 

He and a handful of others started a professional theater company in Idaho, called the New Heritage Theatre Co., which was based on educational outreach and community service. Ebersole did everything from directing and teaching to acting. The company performed programs at high schools about tough issues teenagers face like alcohol and drug abuse, date rape and school violence. “We were able to use our talents for service to the greater good,” Ebersole said.  

All good things must come to an end (or at least run out of money), and that’s precisely what happened to the NHTC after four years. This unfortunate occurrence left Ebersole with a choice — should he return to acting or continue helping others? “I chose to invest myself into a career of social service,” he said.

Ebersole landed at the MLK Housing Development Association in Tacoma, where he worked as the program services development officer. “MLK Housing really was for me the launch of a whole new concept of my life,” he said.

This past September, with the support of MLKHDA, he planned and executed the successful revival of the Music and Murals Festival in Tacoma.

After a year and a half, Ebersole wasn’t looking to leave a job he enjoyed, but another opportunity came knocking. “Sometimes a door opens and the best thing to do is walk through it,” he said.

The Penn State graduate with a degree in theater now has embarked on a brand new journey leading the Metro Parks Foundation, a nonprofit organization established to help fund parks, recreation and community events of Metro Parks Tacoma. “The offer was too good to refuse,” Ebersole said. “This is a wonderful opportunity to do something significant in this community.”

He is the foundation’s first executive director and has a big job to do.

Ebersole will head the foundation’s $2 million campaign to complete another phase of construction at Tacoma’s Wright Park, which will include a new children’s play and spray ground. “Wright Park is a gem of Tacoma,” he said, adding a spray ground will give people a chance to “engage in a personal and meaningful way.”

“It will help children grow happy, healthy and strong,” he added. 

Ebersole is up to the challenge of raising money. “I believe we can do this and make it happen,” he said. “Anything is possible.” Ebersole wants to help the foundation advance to a new level. “I’m going to help build the foundation into something more significant than it already is,” he said. “It’s not about me or the foundation; it’s about being of service to the community.”

Occasionally Ebersole does miss acting. “Sometimes you have an ache for it,” he said. “Part of me misses it, but I appreciate the arts and its place in this community.” Ebersole might revisit acting one day, he said, but right now he’s dedicated to service to others.

Acting, however, may never fit into his schedule. In addition to his new full-time gig, somehow Ebersole finds time to be a speech and presentation trainer, a member of Tacoma’s Rotary 8 and a host for KBTC’s documentary television show “Full Focus.” He also serves on the board of All As One, an orphanage in Africa, and is a cheerleader for Tacoma.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to live here at this time,” Ebersole said. “I’m humbled by the people of the Pacific Northwest in many ways.”