Marathon Runner, Realtor, Scout Leader of Boy Scout Troop 248 and Foster Parent to Dozens of Kids
An endurance runner’s heart becomes substantially larger than normal over time. Marathon runners’ hearts may be half-again as large. As I recently learned more about Dave Matzen, I am convinced that his heart is even bigger than that.
Dave and I sat down for a freewheeling interview in his office this past week that left me humbled and in awe. The conversation flowed back-and-forth as easily as if we had been sitting around a campfire with the Boy Scouts.
Marathons are 26.2 miles long and certainly not for the faint of heart. Dave says that he has run “a total of eight so far, two in Hawaii (yes, it was tough), four in Seattle, one in Vancouver BC, and one in Wisconsin … This year I had hoped, and still do … to run one or two… It takes a lot of time to train for them.” His time management skills are phenomenal without a doubt.
Dave Matzen is 61 now and glows with pride as he shares that he got his start in Scouting when he joined a Cub Scout pack in Lakewood as an eight-year-old.
Dave’s eyes light up when he talks about “High-Adventure outings and Scout camp.”
He has a special place in his heart for “…the camping aspect – a lot. I enjoy getting out. I love working with youth. I love working with the teenage age group.” He says, “…about a third of the kids are from single-parent families. I love to get them out…to do things they would never have a chance to do otherwise. We go to Alaska every four years. We fly up to Ketchikan, Juneau and Sitka, usually by ferryboat. We do zip-lining, whale-watching, kayaking; climb up to Mendenhall Glacier then jump into water that is 32-degrees. We just did this trip last summer. This is the ninth time. Any scout can go. You just have to pay your way, but there is no qualifying. I have moms and dads go, too. We sleep in churches, on the floor. When the cruise ships disappear, we’re still in town. The activities we do are 10-cents-on-the-dollar, very budget-friendly. We cook our own meals most of the time. Ketchikan Creek was full with salmon … they were catching fish every five minutes. Eagles, otters…” And we learn a lot about Native American culture up there.” Dave and the scouts were in Alaska for nine days last year.
One parent told Dave recently that since the coronavirus lockdown, her son recently complained that he is “bored with video games.” Imagine that! Longing to get back outdoors and go on another scouting adventure as they did to Alaska last September.
As the Scout Leader of Boy Scout Troop 248 in University Place there are major events tied to the holidays which involve the troop, whose origin dates all the way back to 1927. Funding for Scouts’ activities is generated by proceeds from Christmas tree and other fresh holiday décor sales. Their tree lot is adjacent to McCabe’s Automotive Specialists on Bridgeport Way.
Dave’s scouts, their families and others volunteer in the annual effort to place flags on the graves at New Tacoma Cemetery each year in remembrance of those who have served our country.
Pamela Maddess, cemetery adviser, offers high praise for Dave’s exemplary leadership “…as a true patriotic partner in the annual flag planting event held at New Tacoma Cemetery preceding the Memorial Day weekend. His leadership with his Boy Scout troop and his continuous quality improvement perspective has ensured that we have a seamless activity. This event has grown to have around 60 scouts, their families and other church and community members with a program that celebrates veterans and reinforces their service and sacrifices. Dave is a role model to his scouts with his commitment to the BSA values, his devotion to his family, his physical fitness routine and his hard work ethic. I’m grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with him every year and look forward to many more years of seeing the cemetery decorated with flags to honor our Vets.” Pamela and Dave have partnered on the flag planting for the past 15 years. She adds that she “usually does a program with him and a pizza party for the participants.”
Dave is proud of the faithful service the Scouts provide at New Tacoma. He says, “We’ve got it down to a science now and divide the cemetery into ten sections with a section leader assigned to each.” Incredibly, they are able to place or ‘plant’ flags on some 3,000 individual graves in just two hours’ time the Thursday before Memorial Day.
Boy Scout Troop 248 “is based in University Place, but we are very unique,” according to Dave.” Our scouts come from everywhere. I have scouts from Lacey, Tacoma, Steilacoom, Lakewood, Gig Harbor…the whole greater Tacoma area is where our scouts come from. You can join any troop you want. I’ve been with this troop now for over 30 years.“
My next-door neighbor is Dennis Mills, a retired park ranger for Washington State Parks. Until I interviewed Dave Matzen, Dennis was the only Eagle Scout I’ve ever known. I told Dave about Dennis stepping up and volunteering to repair my 30-year-old Volvo. He not only fixed the problem, he had it ready to drive again within three hours – even though repair shops had estimated three days and hundreds of dollars to get it running again. Dave said, “Once a Scout, Always a Scout.” The Foundation of Scouting includes its mission “to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.”
Dave knew Dennis’ father George Mills, aka “Mr. Mills”, quite well over decades in Scout Leadership.
Dennis shares that shortly after joining “Troop 224 at the age of 11, my father became Scoutmaster. He carried on in that position until he was 80 (for over 42 years)!”
Dave and Colleen’s next RV camping trip is coming up soon to “Belfair State Park for four days and Fort Flagler for ten days.” Camping is at the core of scouting and even in his rare time-off that is what he enjoys most. Dennis retired two years ago having served in parks in every corner of the state. He has a lifetime of scouting memories. I asked Dennis to share a few from his early years in Boy Scouts and as he advanced to Eagle Scout. Dennis recalls his first hike as a young boy, “We were headed to Echo Lake up near Greenwater. It rained from Tacoma to the trailhead. We pitched tents in the rain. Went to bed. Most everyone woke up to wet everything. The leaders called the hike and we went to the scoutmaster’s river property on the Puyallup River. I took my water from the river to cook with. I figured once I boiled it, I’d be fine, but it was still kinda brown. Found out later there was running water on the property.” Another time was a “50-mile hike from Duckabush River, O’Neil Pass, Marmot Lake and down to the Enchanted Valley Chalet and out to Graves Creek.” Lastly was the “National Jamboree West in 1973 at Farragut State Park in Idaho. We drove and spent the 1st night near Grand Coulee, and then a week at the Jamboree. On the way home we took the scenic route through British Columbia. …we spent 3 days coming across BC and crossed the border at Sumas.”
In the years Dave Matzen has been leading Troop 248, just shy of 100 boys from his troop have achieved Eagle Scout status. “Later this year four or five more boys will…” mark that milestone and push the total number to over 100.
Currently, 21 merit badges are required to become ranked as an Eagle Scout. In the national news it has just been announced that a new merit badge is being added. It is the Diversity and Inclusion Merit Badge.
Colleen Kaleel became Colleen Kaleel-Matzen as Dave’s bride 16 years ago. The amount of love in their two hearts, which became united as one, is incalculable. Once they had teamed up in their lifetime partnership, they began opening their heart(s) and home to foster kids.
Colleen has a 41-year-old daughter, but Dave says he has no kids of his own, “I do not have any kids, just a bunch of scouts.” That is an understatement!
Every family is different. Some might dip their toes in the water of fostering and find it is “not for them.” But Dave and Colleen have taken in 120 kids of all ages thus far. They are currently assessing the possibility of bringing three more into their home at this time.
Most kids do not have serious behavioral problems and are compliant with the “house rules” which are detailed with each child upon moving in. Many have their own cell phones or other electronic devices. That is no problem. Bedtime is at 9 p.m. every night.
Dave developed a successful technique for managing screen-time for all of the kids to ensure they really do get into bed at 9 o’clock and stop texting, gaming, etc. He installed two (2) separate Wi-Fi systems: one for the kids’ devices and a second one for himself and his wife. At 9 o’clock each night, the Wi-Fi the kids have access to is turned off. Night-night everyone. A simple, elegant, brilliant solution.
Among the 120 children whom they have fostered over the years, they have kept a close bond with many of them. Dave mentions with pride that one of boys “was awarded a full-ride scholarship from Seattle University. He is graduating in the Class of 2020.” Dave was quick to point out that the details of how the graduation ceremony will be conducted have yet to be settled on – again – because of the impact of COVID-19. Another former foster child who was adopted and is all grown-up now “living in Buffalo, New York and is returning in July to go to college.” Dave smiles as he says, “They become part of the family.”
The bond Dave and Colleen share was celebrated in 2016 with the renewal of their wedding vows and a dream trip to Hawaii. Two Hearts by Phil Collins could not be a better musical tribute to their life together.
“Successful foster parents have two things in common: they have a desire to help children, and they are flexible…” Learn more about How to Become a Foster Parent in Washington by Googling that phrase and visiting the State’s website for more information.
Even with all the love in Dave’s heart for at-risk kids, foster parenting of all age groups, competing in marathons, and running a successful business, Apple Realty in Fircrest, Dave and Colleen also have a huge soft spot in their hearts for pets. At home their menagerie includes four cats, a miniature long-haired Dachshund, and three parrots.
Fifteen years ago Colleen launched Menagerie Maid Pet Sitting providing a range of pet care. Dave says she draws the line when it comes to a certain reptile, “She has an NDS policy: No Darned Snakes.” University Place, Fircrest and Tacoma are her service areas. Colleen is regularly out-and-about walking the dogs. It takes a cool-headed wrangler to handle five dogs at a time and she seems to do so with effortless ease. She has a Facebook page for her business with full contact information.
Today you’ll find Dave Matzen in his freshly remodeled real estate and property management office. The updated interior now meets COVID-19 spacing guidelines for office furniture placement. It is all completed now, but has been a solo work-in-progress over these months of the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order in Washington state. He opines that, “My whole life these past three months is: house…here …Home Depot” for remodeling supplies to paint, install new flooring and new lighting.
In three months, Dave has rarely deviated from what has seemingly become a hamster’s Habitrail. He told about driving to Auburn recently. It was the first time he had left Pierce County in months. Dave laughed about how even that felt like a daring adventure. Dave’s portfolio of properties that he manages includes 71 units altogether: “One 4-plex, 2 triplexes, and 3 duplexes; all of the others are single-family homes.”
It is not like Dave to be sedentary or kept on a short leash (no pun intended, Colleen). He is always on the run: Run, run, running with Dave Matzen and trying to keep up with him seems like Mission: Impossible.
Contact: Dave Matzen 253.564.2212 firstname.lastname@example.org