Midtown Welcomes New Sanctuary for Kids

Midtown SanctuaryChildren and teens will now have a safe and fun environment to beat the summer doldrums in St. Petersburg’s Midtown area.

A 7,500 square-foot space is the new home of the St. Petersburg Police Athletic League.

The new facility, located at the 20th Street Church of Christ’s former sanctuary at 820 20th St. S., will offer summer camps for kids as well as after-school programs where children can spend time learning and having fun.

A St. Petersburg police officer will be spending time there as well, bringing the kids positive messages.

The Police Athletic League, or PAL, is a registered non-profit 501c3 organization that specializes in providing affordable after school programs, summer camps and athletic programs for children and teens. In partnership with the St. Petersburg Police Department, they provide mentorship and crime prevention programs, according to their website.

PAL has been working for two years to secure an affordable location in Midtown and has finally found one at the 20th Street Church.

“It has been the desire of PAL board of directors to provide services for children in the Midtown area for some time because we know many children from the area struggle to get to our facility at 1450 16th Street North,” said PAL chairman, W.G. Spoor.

PAL_Photo_2Midtown has one of the highest juvenile crime rates in Pinellas County, but PAL, as well as the Church of Christ, are working to fix that.

“Up until this point, there have been few positive outlets for our youth,” Larry Collins, associate minister of the church, said. “By partnering with PAL, the church is helping to build a strong community where residents will want to stay.”

The PAL Midtown summer program started on June 8 and will extend its after-school services starting in the fall.

More than $11,000, mostly provided by one PAL board member, will be used for remodeling, painting, flooring, and electrical work. On May 7, St. Petersburg City Council approved $90,000 that PAL will use to put on a new roof, replace a broken air conditioner, power wash and paint the facility, put up a new fence and install an emergency alarm system.

PAL Midtown’s first-year operating costs will be covered by a $25,000 matching grant from Terry McCarthy, a former PAL board member.

The former sanctuary of the the Church of Christ will be the new home for PAL Midtown.  Renovations will take place to keep the building up to date and give children and teens a safe and fun place to go.

The former sanctuary of the the Church of Christ will be the new home for PAL Midtown.  Renovations will take place to keep the building up to date and give children and teens a safe and fun place to go.

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