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Apr, 2016

History of Niagara PAL

 The Niagara Police Athletic League had it's beginnings in a football team in 1967.  Five Patrolmen had an idea to form a youth football team, and did so, the Niagara Knights.  In 1970 they wanted to diversify and add baseball.  But the football association had been incorporated for football only and could not include baseball.  Another vehicle was researched and PAL through cooperation with Buffalo and New York City, Niagara PAL was founded.  Over the years there were numerous trials and tribulations.  Politics of a particular Chief, good, bad, and indifferent Executive Directors, budget constraints, program difficulties, etc., but through it all growth and evolution in the community.  What it has become is probably the most viable youth organization in Western New York.  The local media once referred to Niagara PAL as the renaissance agency of youth agencies, a label we like to think fits.  Niagara PAL has about 60 programs with in excess of 16,000 participants annually.  It has been, and is, on the cutting edge of innovative programming in the area.  Niagara PAL pioneered the sharing of resources and people with all the agencies, school systems, and organizations that service youth.  Niagara PAL from humble beginnings in Niagara Falls, now touches the eight contiguous counties of Western New York in it's programming efforts.

    Niagara PAL has all that you expect of a PAL, basketball, soccer, tennis, lacrosse, rugby and so on.  But we also have the largest scholarship programs, Students of Excellence, honors 42 seniors from 14 high schools for their contributions in leadership, service, and scholarship.  Why do I tell you all of this?  And this is only a part of the story.  There is also the Fine Arts Awards, breakfast with Santa, Do The Right Thing to name a few. But the reason is two-fold.

   You are sitting there thinking, but how do you pay for all of this?  The payroll costs have to be astronomical and the overhead to maintain it all beyond comprehension.  Niagara PAL has only one paid part-time employee and they receive no fringe benefits.  How does that work you say, and can it work for me?  How it works is the over 300 active volunteers that establish policy, set-up programs, and then follow them through to completion.  They willingly offer their time, talent, and effort for the kids.  People like the Niagara County Sheriff, School Superintendents, numerous teachers and Police Officers, a principal or two, a couple of administrators, hospital personal, and a large variety of individuals and youth.  They give more than 12,000 volunteer hours a year to PAL.  PAL can be adapted to your needs.  What works in Niagara Falls may not work for you, but PAL will.  You can spend a million dollars or work from a small budget.  You can assign an officer or look to volunteers.  You know your department and community and what will work or not.  PAL can, and usually will, fit into what is available.  PAL can work for you.

    In order to accomplish all of this two basics are necessary.  A commitment, hopefully from you, and money.  And probably a third, a little help from your friends, us.  If you make the commitment we can provide the logistical support. 
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