Today’s blog is from Cruz Solano, a Beaverton PAL boxer, who placed second twice in National Silver Gloves competitions before taking a title in 2014. He shares why boxing is important to him.
My name is Cruz Solano. I was eight years old when I walked into the Beaverton PAL Boxing Gym for the first time. At first, I was disgusted by the sweaty smell of the people training in the gym, but then I grew to appreciate it because it was the scent of hard work and dedication. I fell in love with boxing because it was the only way I could fight without getting in trouble. Thank to PAL, I found a passion that keeps me away from drugs, violence, and gangs. It’s a completely safe environment where discrimination and harassment are not tolerated. I have been involved with Beaverton PAL for half of my life, eight years, and I am grateful to be part of it. It has had a significantly positive influence on my life and has helped me grow as an individual. It disciplined me to become respectful, responsible, and to be a role model for the younger kids who look up to me.
Today’s guest blog is from Jocelyn Simpson, who worked at Westside PAL for many years before becoming the executive director for Beaverton PAL in 2013. She stepped back to spend more time with her family, but misses the youth and their energy at PAL, so much so that she wrote this guest blog and is even coming back to volunteer at the Spring Fundraiser on May 20th!
PAL will always have a piece of my heart. I had the privilege of working at PAL for many years and seeing first-hand the positive impact that PAL had on so many children and families. I heard testimony from parents on how their children’s academic performance had improved or how their child had more self-confidence in themselves due to their involvement with the program. I witnessed kids go from being shy and quiet to wanting to be a leader of a group or to be the first one to raise their hand when the team needed help with something.
PAL is a magical place for kids, a safe haven, and a place to be around positive adult role models. PAL is such an important program to the community. Not only does it keep kids safe and out of trouble, it teaches kids to invest in their own community and become good citizens. PAL encourages youth to respect the local law enforcement and to build a bond with the police officers. I truly believe that the Beaverton community is better off by having a PAL chapter.
I miss PAL every day and the smiles on the kid’s faces when they used to walk through the front doors or pop their head in my office to tell me about their day. I always knew PAL was something special and to say that I was a part of this program is a highlight of my life. I miss seeing new members start their journey at PAL each year and knowing that doors are going to open for them because of their participation in PAL. I am proud of the program and happy for the families and community members who have been impacted by PAL.