PAL’s prestigious pair
Henrico organization earns two national awards
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!”
Former Sandston resident Mildred Taylor celebrated her 106th birthday Aug. 9. Taylor, who now lives in Powhatan, is still a member of Sandston Baptist Church. She was visited the day after her birthday by several members of the church, who played for her a recording of the entire church membership singing happy birthday to her during worship. > Read more.
YMCA officials gathered last week to break ground on the new Tommy J. West Aquatic Center at the Shady Grove Family YMCA on Nuckols Road. The center, which will featured 7,600 square feet of competitive and recreational space, including water slides, play areas for children and warmer water for those with physical limitations, is the fourth phase of a $4 million expansion at the facility. West was president and CEO of Capital Interior Contractors and a founding member of the Central Virginia Region of the Virginia Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors. > Read more.
The Sandston Rotary Club recently donated $1,000 to the Sandston YMCA for its Bright Beginnings program, which helps provide children in need with school supplies for the new school year. > Read more.
Enjoy the final days of summer with comedian Guy Torry, the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour or mystery writer Mary Miley Theobald at Twin Hickory Library. Another great way to welcome the beginning of fall is to check out the UR Spider Football season opener with man’s best friend. For all our top picks this weekend, click here! > Read more.
Short Pump brewery offers more than just beer
I am still (happily) thinking about my entire experience at Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery last week. Knowing nothing about this new brewery out of Denver, I was leery of brew-pub in the heart of Short Pump Town Center – this is not what I’d usually think of as a perfect fit, and yet, it was.
The restaurant and craft brewery opened in early June and features 10 beers made by female brewmaster Becky Hammond (pictured). This is the restaurant’s second location in Virginia; the first is in Arlington. Behind glass walls, customers watched the beer brewing in massive steel barrels. For our up-and-coming beer region, it makes sense that Short Pump would jump on board.
As I walked up to the back of the mall near the comedy club, I was taken aback by what I saw: at the top of the stairs was an overflowing restaurant with outdoor seating, large umbrellas and dangling outdoor lights. > Read more.
The Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen is now registering participants for its fall 2014 schedule of classes.
The center will offer more than 100 classes for children and adults, covering topicssuch as culinary arts, fiber arts, visual and performance arts and more. Instruction is structured to appeal to a wide range of abilities, from beginners to experts of all ages. Class sizes are kept small to ensure maximum benefit for participants with generally no more than 15 students. > Read more.
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