Oxford Circle Church has space for new PAL center

A new PAL center is expected to open in the Northeast before the school year begins.

The Police Athletic League will use the gym and classrooms at Glading Memorial Presbyterian Church on Cheltenham Avenue in Oxford Circle, said Capt. Michael McCarrick, the 2nd Police District’s commander.

Some painting has been done, and repair work has been started to get the property ready for youngsters who want to participate in PAL programs. Mike Ragucci, a Northeast resident, will be the officer in charge of the new center, said PAL’s commanding officer, Lt. Bryan Anthony.

PAL centers are available to youngsters, ages 6 to 18, from right after school dismissal until 9 p.m., Mondays through Fridays, during the school year. The centers are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during breaks and in the summer.

A large percentage of neighborhood crime involves juveniles as perpetrators and victims, McCarrick said.

“PAL provides a haven for kids looking for a safe environment,” the captain said.

Consistently safe, stressed PAL’s Sgt. Eric Ervin. “All the centers are clean, safe places,” he said.

All kids — boys and girls — are accepted, whether they are athletically inclined or not, Ervin said. Basketball is big at PAL, he said, but there also are homework clubs, computer labs and chess clubs. Kids are introduced to hockey, soccer and even horseback riding.

Ervin said centers have mentoring programs that aim to show boys and girls how to be young men and young women.

McCarrick said the idea for getting a new PAL center in the Northeast evolved quickly from a discussion among police commanders in January. He said Commissioner Charles Ramsey approved of the idea. The captain then said the appropriate facility had to be found. Glading was a good candidate, he said, because it had a gym and the classroom space that PAL required. ••

Reporter John Loftus can be reached at 215–354–3110 or jloftus@bsmphilly.com