AT&T contribution will support Wilmington Police Recreation Association’s relationship-building between cops and kids

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WILMINGTON Local police officers will be making an even greater positive impact on the lives of area children in coming months, thanks in part to a contribution from AT&T to the Wilmington Police Recreation Association (WPRA).

John Lyon, AT&T Regional Director for External Affairs, was joined by Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo in presenting the $1,300 contribution to Police Chief Ralph Evangelous and other WPRA board members last month.

Police Athletic Leagues' Jahiem Marshall, left, officer Brandon Reece center, and Sammie Sangsawangwantana. Photo by Christina Haley.
Members of PAL Hoops program in 2013 (file photo by Christina Haley).

“I am continually impressed with the passion and professionalism which the men and women of the Wilmington Police Department bring to the job of keeping our community safe,” Saffo said. “Yet it is even more impressive and heartwarming to see their commitment to children as they serve in a special way through the Police Activities League (PAL). Whether on-duty, or off-duty, they are changing lives and futures every day, and we appreciate their dedication and service.”

The contribution will be used to support PAL programming, a group supported by the WPRA that also supports Cop Camps for young boys and girls and Santa Cop, among other programs.

“At the Wilmington Police Department, our officers, employees and their families believe that ‘to protect and serve’ has a meaning that goes far beyond typical law enforcement activities, Chief Evangelous said. “It includes investing in the lives of young people today to help prepare for a better, more positive tomorrow. We appreciate the support and encouragement of the mayor and other leaders as we strive to encourage positive interactions between youth and police officers throughout the community.”

The PAL is an athletic based program designed to connect police officers with the youth in their community by engaging boys and girls in positive activities that improve their quality of life, present developmental opportunities, and offer the prospect of a brighter future.

Its concept is based on the belief that if kids are reached early enough they can develop strong positive attitudes toward police officers in their journey through life toward the goal of maturity and good citizenship. It will allow the opportunity for kids to interact with police officers and gain the positive perception that we are their friends and want to help them through their lives. By doing so we not only impact that child’s life but hopefully prevent juvenile crimes, gang recruitment, and enhance community support. PAL at the Wilmington Police Department sponsors basketball, soccer, Olympic style wrestling, cheer & dance, and PAL Teen.

Lyon said AT&T has a long history of being involved in initiatives to strengthen communities and families.

“Whether through the advanced technologies and services we are deploying, or through our corporate stewardship efforts, we want to help people connect with each other and with opportunities,” Lyon said. “Relationships build and strengthened on the athletic field can often be among the longest-lasting. And when those relationships are between young people and police officers, the experience is even more important for all concerned. So we are excited about the opportunity to support the Wilmington Police Recreation Association in creating these opportunities for youth.”

For more information regarding the Wilmington Police Recreation Association, please contact Sgt. Alanna Williams, WPRA President at (910) 367-0626 or via email at alanna.williams@wilmingtonnc.gov. For more information about the PAL program, please contact Officer Deborah Wolfson at (910) 520-3852 or via email at pal@wilmingtonnc.gov.

-Content provided by Wilmington Police Department

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