Police Activities League keeps kids busy – and out of trouble

After the mentors and role models finished keeping kids busy during the summer, the PAL staff is working to get ready for the fall season, starting Sept. 11 …

PAL Center Director Beth Faulhaber spends time with Angel Swearingen, during the ‘Role Model Day’ on August 11. “I really appreciate Beth,” Swearingen tells us, “She is a good role model. She makes it great for kids here at PAL.”

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Many people agree with that old saw, “idle hands are the devil’s workshop”. To avoid that situation among youth, volunteers and staff members at the Police Activities League (PAL) work year-around to keep youngster’s hands ‚Äì and minds ‚Äì busy.

Our visit to the PAL center came during “Role Model Day”, an event created by PAL youth and volunteers in 1994 to celebrate everyday role models in the community. “It has become an annual event for us, culminating more than 500 annual hours of summer youth activities,” program director Michael Jezewski, told us.

PAL program director Michael Jezewski plays Kiddy Pool Ring Toss during their special event.

This special annual event provides a carnival of fun: face painting, potato sack races, water balloon toss, crab walk relay, tug of war, a scavenger hunt, kiddy pool ring toss, a pie eating contest, 3 legged races and much more.

Role of PAL in the community
“PAL gives kids the opportunity to see police in a different light,” Jezewski continued. “Sometimes, these kids’ involvement with police officers isn’t the best. We give youth the chance to see police officers as normal people and develop mutual respect.”

He added that most PAL activities center around recreation and sports. “These bring the kids in. Then, we help them learn life skills, including reading and math. We even have a kids cooking class where they learn to make real nutritious meals.”

Jezewski introduced us to Beth Faulhaber, the center’s director. “Few of the kids we serve have great role models as adults. So, it is really important that we’re here for them,” she told us. “Working together in programs like this, we see that we make a difference in the lives of youth.”

Portland Police Bureau Officer Ron Mason, Family Services Division, cooks up a barbecue banquet of brisket, pork loin, barbecue beans, and potato salad ‚Äì using his own hand-built cooking rig. “I wanted our kids and visitors to have more than hot dogs, so I came here ready to cook.” In addition, Mason participates in PAL’s summer baseball camp.

“It looks like we’re hosting 125 kids today,” Jezewski informed us. “We average 120 a day during the summer; during the school year, we get about 140 young people visiting us each day.”

Fall session begins September 11
PAL Youth Center, located at 424 N.E. 172nd Ave. begins it’s fall hours on September 11; running from 2:30 ‚Äì 7 p.m., Monday -Friday.

Youth membership fees are $50 for the year or $25 for families which qualify for school reduced lunch. For more information, contact PAL at (503) 823-0250, or the Youth Center at (503) 256-3479.

¬© 2006 David F. Ashton ~ East PDX News

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