Parents hope closed PAL Center will be used for children again

Parents hope closed PAL Center will be used for children again

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The Gulfport Police Athletic League (PAL) Center in Gulfport's Gaston Point Community is now closed after PAL, a non-profit and Gulfport police's partnership ended.

The center closed back in December, before that it had served as free after school care for children ages 8 through 12 since 2010. Now parents are hoping the city owned building will reopen again as something that will once again help the youth in their community.

Since the doors of the PAL center were shut last month, parents have been hoping the building will once again be used to serve the youth in their community. From the activities to the tutors and police officers volunteering at the center, Gloria Grayer said the center gave her peace of mind.

She said she and other parents didn't worry about their kids when they came to the PAL Center after school.

"It provided them an opportunity to be able to come to facility where they are safe. Where they are learning. Where they can experience creative arts and a lot of other opportunities that we didn't have when we were growing up in this neighborhood," said Gloria Grayer.

Now she and other parents are left looking for another positive environment for their kids.

"Where can they go? They need to be here at this place. After school having fun, being with they friends doing homework, having internet. I don't have internet service at my house, I wish I did. My child would be on the computer," said Katherine Puryear.

The president of the Police Athletic League said though the center is closed, the nonprofit still has $60,000 in its coffers. And he wants that money to provide some services that kids may not be able to get at home or school.

"I do know that our plan is to get together and make a place. We know that our plan is going to be to utilize this money to the best use of the children. That's what we do. That's why we're here," said PAL President David Shoemake.

While Gulfport police officers are no longer involved with the Police Athletic League Center they still operate several programs including the police explorers, the Hook a Kid on Golf program which will be transformed into Hook a Kid on Fishing and various summer activities.

They are also looking at an alternative to juvenile detention to help at risk kids get their lives back on track.

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