ALPHARETTA, Ga. — After 14 years located next to Alpharetta City Hall, the Alpharetta Police Activities League (PAL) is looking for a new home.
For more than a year, the nonprofit Alpharetta PAL has rented space at Milton Center, 86 School Drive.
PAL is sharing the space with Gwinnett Technical College, Independence High School and Fulton County Schools’ Professional Learning Center North. That’s a little crowded.
For the past four years, PAL has been searching for a permanent home. While Milton Center is working for the program now, the center is too big for the program and not as cost effective as having their own place.
“PAL is a program, not a place,” said Jim Paine, chairman of the board of directors for Alpharetta PAL “We don’t have to have anything really fancy.”
In the last year alone, they looked at 17 locations.
Ten of those locations were of interest, but for various reasons, such as zoning, cost and leasing, none of them worked out.
They are looking for about 20,000 square feet of space that includes a large area that can be used as a gym and rooms for tutoring, guitar lessons and staff offices.
So how soon does PAL need a new home?
“I would say as soon as yesterday,” said Veronica Carew, executive director of PAL.
PAL is a partnership with the Alpharetta Public Safety Department.
While helping with daily programs, the police liaison officer, Phil Ritchey, interacts with PAL children.
“Ritchey brings just an enormous amount of energy,” said Paine, “I’ve never seen him slow down.”
PAL works with several local schools to provide structure and guidance to local youth that may need it.
During the school year, PAL provides low cost after school programs. These programs include mentoring, tutoring and sports programs.
In the summer, the program holds weeklong camps. The camps are offered at a lower cost to help families who may struggle with paying for summer programs. The camp allows for 7 a.m. early drop off and 6 p.m. late pickup.
“This year, we have over 115,” said Ritchey.
Every December, PAL teams up with Walmart and the Alpharetta Public Safety Department for “Shop with a Cop.”
The event allows children to Christmas shop for themselves and their families.
Contributions from local businesses and annual fundraising allow PAL to keep programs running.
Jackson Healthcare in Alpharetta hosts the Alpharetta PAL 5K annually in October. The event is a Peachtree qualifier.
New this year, PAL started the Jailbreak Fundraiser held in March. Citizens and community leaders were “arrested” and a bond amount was posted. They then would call family, friends and coworkers to raise money to “bail” them out of the pretend jail. All of the proceeds from the event went to support the Alpharetta PAL.
The original PAL program was started by New York Police Lt. Ed Flynn in 1917. Flynn recognized that the city’s youth was in need of structure and guidance.
The program has grown into a national initiative with more than 400 chapters serving 700 cities.
For more information, visit www.alphapal.org.