FAIRFIELD — It’s a bigger, better new home.
Fairfield Police Chief Walt Tibbet said the new site of the Matt Garcia Police Activities League center, now at the former Sullivan Middle School on Union Avenue, is part of relocating several city services at the school.
“It’s going to be a great thing,” Tibbet said.
The teens who use the new PAL site helped with the move, said Heather Sanderson, recreational program coordinator.
“The kids worked their tailbones off, ” she said.
Sanderson said the all the new space is great – and at least two Fairfield teens agree.
“It’s a really good situation,” said Andrew Baldwin, 17. “I like it.”
So does Jonathan Alvarado, 15.
“It’s pretty awesome,” he said. “Over there it was just cramped up.”
“Over there” was the former site, about a mile away along Travis Boulevard.
Will Bible, program director for the PAL center, said officials wanted a lot more space to do different things and the new home provides that. Space at the former site restricted programs, he said. Now, Bible said, “we can do activities all at once.” A gym, a workout room, air hockey, dance classes and plenty of places for books are among the benefits of the new home.
Reading is among the activities at the center and “Street Soldier: One Man’s Struggle to Save a Generation, One Life at a Time” is among the most popular books for teens, Bible said. Joseph Marshall Jr., who wrote the book, hosts a Sunday program on radio station KMEL and had members of the PAL in Fairfield on his show about a month ago.
Police Chief Tibbet said the old Sullivan Middle School site that’s now home to the PAL center and other services represents the city of Fairfield’s focus on a fresh approach to youth services.
“There’s another way of doing things,” he said. “We think we’ll be the foundation for really addressing family and youth needs.”
Rather than have different agencies working in separate silos – where each saw a part of the picture about the challenges teens and others face – Fairfield is coordinating efforts. Tibbet credited City Manager Sean Quinn and the Fairfield-Suisun School District for helping to make the new approach possible.
From the day he began as chief in July 2010, Tibbet said he heard kids didn’t have enough to do in Fairfield. The center for teens aims to help teens succeed and many have spoken about the big difference PAL makes in their lives, the chief said.
Sgt. Kevin Carella, executive director for the PAL center, said the old Sullivan Middle School site expands what youths can do.
“It gives us a chance to better serve the kids – some breathing room,” he said. The former site had no elbow room, Carella said.
Fairfield resident Kelee Marie Bordeaux, 34, an artist, was painting trees in one of the PAL center rooms where as a child she’d gone to school.
“I can’t believe how different it looks,” she said.
Still, some things are unchanged. Teens’ appetites are as ravenous as ever, noted recreation program coordinator Sanderson.
“We don’t ever have leftover food,” she said.
The Fairfield PAL will have a Poker Tournament and Casino Night on Nov. 2 at the Willow Hall Community Center, 1000 Kentucky St., with all proceeds benefiting the activities league. Check in is at 6 p.m. and the fun begins at 7 p.m. Call 580-1055 for more information.
Reach Ryan McCarthy at 427-6935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.