Henrico County VA

PAL’s prestigious pair

Henrico organization earns two national awards
Henrico police officers Michelle Harper (left) and Kenny Ragland (right) celebrated with Aubrey Temple and Johnny Newman at the PAL awards in Florida.
If there was any doubt that Henrico County has made its mark on the national map, it was dispelled May 24 in Orlando, Florida, when leaders of Henrico PAL came home with two of the four national awards presented at the National Police Athletic League awards ceremony.

Selected from hundreds of candidates across the country, Youth Leadership Council President Aubrey Temple and Henrico PAL board member Johnny Newman were recognized, respectively, as the National Police Athletic League’s 2011 “Male Youth of the Year” and “Male Volunteer of the Year.”

The awards ceremony was attended by approximately 200 police and PAL representatives from throughout the United States and the Virgin Islands, and featured NFL great and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Brown as keynote speaker.

Newman, who played basketball at University of Richmond and in the NBA, was a founding board member for Henrico PAL and has been instrumental in the organization of the Johnny Newman basketball camp that PAL hosts each summer.

Through his efforts, PAL has been able to offer such programs as open gym, a Drop Everything and Read Program, golf tournament, Thanksgiving food giveaways, mentoring programs and dance/step team competitions to help further PAL’s mission of reducing juvenile crime.

In addition to helping to serve more than 7,000 youth since Henrico PAL’s inception, Newman also regularly visits area middle schools and high schools making motivational speeches and urging students to stay in school and strive to excel.

A native of Danville, Newman honed his skills at the YMCA as a child -- after a staffer caught him repeatedly sneaking in and offered him a membership in exchange for referee duties. Those YMCA experiences led him to his professional career, as well as inspiring a lifelong commitment to and belief in the value of community centers and mentoring organizations such as PAL.

“There were coaches that took me in, saw that I had potential with sports,” Newman once said. “And they would volunteer with me, take me in, open up the gym, and take me on trips.”

Learning to lead
Temple, a stand-out scholar athlete at Highland Springs H.S., started out as a 14-year-old camper during Henrico PAL’s first summer camp and was invited to become an assistant counselor the following summer.

As he reflected recently on his PAL experiences, Temple told a story similar to Newman’s regarding PAL’s role in opening doors for him.

“I guess Sgt. [Kenny] Ragland saw something in me,” he said of the Henrico PAL director who took him on as counselor. “He saw I was a good kid; I didn’t get in trouble, or get involved in all the drama.”

That’s not to say, however, that transitioning to counselor was devoid of challenges.

“I had to watch the kids, make sure they stayed in line, keep them safe,” Temple said, ticking off some of his early duties. “Making sure they’re not lost, making sure they’re not hurt, keeping them quiet when something needed to be said.”

But while the work had its moments, Temple said it was also rewarding “knowing I was making a difference, and influencing [the campers]. Seeing them play together, and making friends. It felt good inside when I helped them.”

After a summer as an assistant counselor, Temple got involved with PAL’s fledgling Youth Leadership Council [YLC] and became its first president.

Although he’d held leadership positions on the football team, and was considered a leader at school because of his excellent grades and work with the student council, leading YLC was another story, he said.

As a co-captain on the football team, he could lead by example, said Temple; but as head of YLC, he had to learn about parliamentary procedure and conduct meetings.

Even harder, he added, was learning to project his voice.

“My voice is naturally low, and I feel like I have to scream when I’m speaking [in front of a group],” he said.

‘All I could give was time’
Although Temple is grateful for the PAL award – and proud that Henrico came home with two -- he said he would have been involved with PAL whether or not he received recognition.

“Without any resources, with no money or connections, all I could give was my own time,” he said. “So I volunteered wherever I could.”

Although Temple’s award included a $2500 scholarship, he plans to begin engineering studies at Duke University in the fall – so a job that puts money in the bank is his first priority this summer.

“But I’ll definitely try and come to a few PAL events,” he said. “I enjoy being around the counselors and the police officers; they’re all friendly and warm-hearted.”

Among other experiences he has enjoyed as a result of PAL, he said, is running into former campers and their parents out in the community. And he admits to being fascinated by the behavior of the younger children at camp, and the changes he has seen in campers in just four years with the organization.

“At seven, eight, nine years old they’re learning to do what we did at 13 and 14,” he said, shaking his head incredulously. “And they all have cell phones and iPods.”

Observing the behavior of the youngsters, he added, has enabled him to view things from a more adult perspective, and to forge a closer relationship with the staff, volunteers and Henrico police officers who work with PAL.

“We have to deal with those crazy kids,” he said with a grin. “It’s bonding!”
Community

Lions Club donates backpacks to elementary school

The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.

Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.

Glen Allen student to perform at Carnegie Hall

Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.

At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.

Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.

Gayton Baptist Church dedicates new outreach center


The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.

Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.

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Entertainment

Brews and bites done right

Urban Tavern’s big, bold themes impress

The Urban Tavern opened in August, replacing the former Shackelford’s space at 10498 Ridgefield Parkway in Short Pump. Because of local and longtime devotion to Shackleford’s, Urban Tavern has some big shoes to fill.

Without any background information, I headed to the restaurant for dinner on a Wednesday night, two months after its opening.

On a perfect fall evening, four out of eight outdoor tables were taken, giving the impression that the restaurant was busier than it was. On the inside, a couple tables were taken, and a few folks were seated at the bar. > Read more.

A terrible, horrible movie. . . that’s actually pretty good

‘Alexander’ provides uncomplicated family fun
It’s not surprising in the least that Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day doesn’t much resemble the book it’s based upon.

Judith Viorst’s 1972 picture book isn’t exactly overflowing with movie-worthy material. Boy has bad day. Boy is informed that everyone has bad days sometimes. Then, the back cover.

In the film, the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad-ness is blown up to more extreme size. Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould) has a bum day every day, while the rest of his family (Steve Carell, Jennifer Garner, Dylan Minnette, Kerris Dorsey) exist in a constant bubble of perfection and cheery optimism – to the point that the family is so wrapped up in their own success that Alexander’s being ignored.

So on the eve of his 12th birthday, Alexander makes a wish: just once, he’d like his family to see things from his perspective; to experience the crushing disappointment of one of those no good, very bad days. Once he has blown out the candle on his pre-birthday ice cream sundae, his family’s fate is sealed: one full day of crippling disasters for all of them. > Read more.

Deep Run HS plans fall musical

Tickets for Deep Run High School’s fall musical production – Aida – will go on sale Nov. 3. The Elton John-Tim Rice pop opera, inspired by Verdi’s classic opera, tells the story of enslaved Nubian princess Aida, who falls for captain of the guard Radames, who is betrothed to the Egyptian princess.

Performances will be held Nov. 13-15 at 7 p.m. each day. > Read more.

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