The founders of the new Galt Police Activities League have been quietly meeting for months, and have created an executive board for the organization and filed its nonprofit papers with the California Secretary of State.
Once officially approved, the group can begin soliciting donations for community youth sports teams and other outreach programs.
The plan should go before the Galt Parks and Recreation Commission later this month for discussion of other funding options and possible facility updates, according to Vice Mayor Mike Singleton.
He has been at the forefront of creating the PAL for the last year.
“Since we no longer have a Boys and Girls Club, I thought it would be perfect for our town and the kids in this town,” Singleton said, adding that he has fond memories of being part of a PAL in his hometown in the Bay Area. “In the 1970s, every city had one.”
Police activities leagues, founded nationally more than 70 years ago, are affiliated with local police departments. Police officers and other personnel serve as mentors and coaches with the goal of keeping students engaged and out of trouble.
Creating one in Galt is part of the city’s ongoing strategic plan.
Singleton has been working with Tracie Cross of the Galt Joint Union High School District, Police Officer T.J. Guidotti, self-defense instructor Stan Toscano and Estrellita Continuation High School Principal Tony Lara.
Resident Mike Hodge, a former city council candidate who said during his campaign that he wanted to see a PAL founded in Galt to give local youths something to do, would also like to be part of the organization.
When Hodge was growing up in St. Petersburg, Fla., he said he was looking for a place to hang out when he ended up at the PAL gym. There, a police detective who was also a gymnast taught Hodge the basics of gymnastics.
“He started me on a good path,” Hodge said of his experiences, which included going to college and ending up on a university gymnastics team in 1968.
“Like many teenagers, I was prone to get into trouble, so my parents were glad to see me involved in PAL,” he said. “I learned discipline, developed good moral character, and I owe it to the opportunities and experience I had while a member of the PAL.”
Singleton said there are plans to collaborate with other organizations with the same goal of assisting students in Galt.
That could include mentoring students seeking to go to college, or those who want to play sports and don’t have another outlet.
Athletics is among the top reasons Singleton wants to get the PAL ball rolling.
“No matter what your income is, I want you to be able to play sports. That’s why some of these kids go out after school, because they have nowhere else to go,” he said. “They need structure. I hope it teaches them self-pride and discipline.”
PALs are popular in other Sacramento County cities.
In Citrus Heights, members recently sponsored a citywide bicycle rodeo for children and distributed pencils, erasers and stencils stamped with the police department’s information.
In neighboring Elk Grove, the PAL is a joint effort sponsored by the Elk Grove Police Department in collaboration with Cosumnes Services District, Elk Grove Unified School District and the community. Students ages 5 to 19 can become members and take advantage of all the programs the group offers. Adults can also volunteer their time and experience by becoming coaches and mentors.
In Galt, Singleton is excited about the opportunities a PAL will afford residents.
“I’ve got big dreams for this town and for kids — to give them something to do,” he said. “And (it could) help lower our crime statistics, as well.”
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.