Turning Interest Into Action
Abington’s longtime Police Chief Bill Kelly (now retired) was always a visionary who often stated that he would rather have the Abington Police Department be proactive in providing positive youth programs than arrest young people. He saw the crime rate rising dramatically in the youth population in the mid 1990s. He knew that reversing this trend would require providing deterrence programs for younger boys and girls while they were still impressionable. He also knew that a comprehensive approach was needed as different children respond to different kinds of programs.
The Commander of Community Policing, at that time Sgt.. Mike Webb, suggested a PAL program in Abington, and Chief Kelly wasted no time in meeting with highly dynamic community leaders Julie Greenbaum and Lew Klein. In short order, Lew assumed the presidency of PAL, and Julie became a founding Board member.
With initial gifts from community philanthropists, Abington PAL opened its doors in the former Glenside Weldon School in the summer of 2001. A small cadre of paid staff, volunteers, and Abington Officers began spending weekend evenings with boys and girls. They offered them a combination of athletic activities, arts and crafts, and development programs. When Officers encountered youth on the street, they had a safe place to send them.
Since its inception, Abington PAL has been offering members a wide variety of opportunities under the mentorship of caring adults. Many young people who come to Abington PAL have not been exposed to the typical array of club sports, arts programs, group games, and the like. So Abington PAL aims to provide a wide variety of options for boys and girls to sample and develop their interests and skills.
Throughout the year, members can experience team sports, such as basketball, dodgeball, kickball, and volleyball. Highlights are always Cops vs. Kids tournaments. Two ever popular programs are Kids on the Hill summer golf camp, that has launched several high school varsity golfers, and the annual Police Academy where young people learn about fascinating aspects of police work, from fingerprinting and SWAT to K-9 and crime scene investigation.
Adult staff and volunteers teach and lead members in fun and stimulating games as well as encourage creativity through varied arts and crafts. Special educational offerings can include cooking classes where boys and girls learn to follow recipes and discover nutritional content or yoga instruction that teaches correct body movements and exercise.
Young people are also taken on fun and enriching day trips, such as snow tubing, paint balling, laser tag, and Philadelphia sporting events. And, they are encouraged to give back to their community by helping with various projects for others.
In May of 2017, founding President Lew Klein stepped down after 16 years, becoming Chairman Emeritus of the Board. Community leader and longtime dedicated PAL Board member Eric Sussman, President of Sussman Automotive, assumed the mantel of leadership as Abington PAL’s second president. Since Chief Kelly’s retirement, Chief John Livingood, and now Chief Patrick Molloy have expressed their firm commitment to leading PAL forward.
The Abington Police Athletic League (PAL) strives to prevent juvenile crime and violence and promote healthy youth activities and growth opportunities by providing educational and recreational programs through mentorship from law enforcement and community volunteers who serve as role models.
OUR CORE BELIEFS
Our PAL utilizes a recreation-oriented juvenile crime prevention program that relies heavily upon athletics and recreational activities to help members achieve success. Safe, positive, fun and rewarding programs offering a supportive teamwork environment is the key to the PAL success story that builds happy, well adjusted youth and safer communities.