Parenting is undoubtedly rewarding but also challenging, even when life is going well. A group of local dads is there to support fatherhood in all its forms while having fun along the way. The Tacoma Dads Group formed a seeming lifetime ago, back in 2016, with about 60 dads and spouses sharing tips and resources. Sean Leacy joined the following year and saw the potential for more members and activities with a little effort to boost its social media presence.

Tacoma Dads Group

Though Leacy started with the intent of being a small part of a much larger community, that all changed when the original group organizer, Justin Natali, suffered a devastating setback at his wife’s consignment store and had to step back from his group responsibilities. Natali passed the torch to Leacy in October of 2019, five months before COVID would throw a wrench in their plans for growth. Once pandemic restrictions put in-person activities on hold, the community stayed active with online activities.

Tacoma dads group
Tacoma Dads Group has activities most days of the week these days since any member can just add an activity and invite others. Photo credit: Sean Leacy

“That’s what really made the difference. We just kept going,” Leacy said, noting that membership got a little bump, with everyone locked down for months and left looking for resources to stay active and engaged, albeit remotely. That bump then shifted to a full-on jump as limitations lifted, and life inched toward normalcy a year ago.

“We have really doubled in seven months,” he said, mentioning that Facebook followers now total more than 550 people.

Tacoma dads group
Local Tacoma dads have drawn so many members that bars have hosted them with bar and beer swag. Photo credit: Sean Leacy

Tacoma Dads Group Calendar

The dads-only group now also has a consolidated calendar of reoccurring and one-off events on Google, a website for dates and information for those dads not on Facebook and a Discord server for live chats and discussions concerning various dads out dadding. Attendance varies depending on the activity, but 25 dads swing by for a beer or two at the Dads Night Out at a local bar on the first Wednesday of each month or the game nights on the second and fourth Thursdays, or a dozen or so coordinate play dates at local tot-lots with their children.

Tacoma dads group
Tacoma Dads Group’s biweekly game night draws a consistent crowd at Silver King Games & Hobby on South Tacoma Way. Photo credit: Sean Leacy

Tacoma Dads Group Gets Involved

The group has also stepped out for more community activism this year when they had a Free Dad Hugs booth at Tacoma’s Pride Festival alongside the group’s sibling effort, Free Mom Hugs. The group also donated a support banner to the Rainbow Center for Pride attendees to sign with messages of appreciation and encouragement to members of the LBGTQ+ community.

“Unfortunately, dads have not been represented in those sorts of efforts,” Leacy said, noting that more than 30 local dads signed up to work hugging shifts or donate supplies.

As a nonreligious, nonpolitical, inclusive and supportive group dedicated to all things being a dad, rather than championing a particular method of fatherhood, Leacy said supporting the event was an important step toward building the group and strengthening the bonds between existing members, who come from all walks of life.

Tacoma dads group
Local dads stay connected through Facebook, a Google calendar and a monthly email as well as a Discord server. Photo credit: Sean Leacy

All Dads Welcome at Tacoma Dads Group

“As long as you identify as a dad, you are welcome in this community,” he said, noting that there are members who have deep religious and political views that are counter to those of other members, which is fine as long as those views don’t make others feel unsafe or unwelcome. It’s about dads being dads — however they define that role for themselves, not for others to label.

“This is leaps and bounds better than other men’s groups I’ve been part of because of that,” Leacy said.

With no specific “agenda” other than to support dads out doing dad things, the group has no mandatory meetings, dues or requirements to speak of and allows every member to simply suggest an activity and lead the way to see if other dads want to join. Activities in the works, for example, include a Fantasy Football League, mid-week activities for stay-at-home dads and park cleanups, as well as monthly book club discussions.

“That is 100 percent of what the community is for,” Leacy said.

Tacoma dads group
The Tacoma Dads Group pooled its resources and hosted a booth for Free Dad Hugs at Tacoma Pride Festival. Photo credit: Sean Leacy

The group is also in the process of formally becoming a non-profit group to channel donations to pay for festival booth fees and group volunteer expenses as it boosts its profile through actions and events.

“I see where we are as a huge success already,” Leacy said. “But there are dads who are just now hearing about us, and we want to find more ways to engage those who haven’t.”

To learn more about Tacoma Dads Group, check out their website for more information on this diverse group of dads building community and engaging the greater Tacoma area.

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