When I was in seventh grade, a friend of mine who was involved with Positive Images, a girls group at PAL, asked me if I wanted to come with her. I willingly accepted her invitation, although I had no idea what the program was about. For the next three years, I was involved with Positive Images and PAL Challenge.
PAL gave me so many opportunities that I wanted to give back. I was not big into sports, so I could not help out with those programs at PAL. When I approached Officer Ernie, I had two main concerns: How could I help? And how could I create more girls programs? At the time, I had been dancing for fourteen years, and that was virtually all I knew. Officer Ernie gave me the opportunity to start the Rizzo PAL Dance Program. I held registration that fall, met with parents, and got a feel for how I wanted to run my program. It was a huge responsibility, and I am still thankful to Officer Ernie for taking a chance on me. At the end of the season, the girls put on their first recital for their parents-
a really exciting experience. I ran the Rizzo Dance program for the next four years until I graduated high school.
Officer Ernie’s role in my life was huge. He gave me opportunities that I would have never gotten otherwise – a chance to shadow Philadelphia’s Managing Director at PAL Day at City Hall, and the chance to be awarded the PAL Scholarship and the Union League Scholarship for college. I am so thankful to have someone in my life that has helped me as much as he has. He taught me how to be a caring person, especially
when he trusted me with running the dance program. I cannot imagine my life without Officer Ernie and the experiences he provided for me. I will forever be thankful to PAL and all that it has done for me.
I am now a sophomore at Immaculata University, and I am still dancing. I know that
PAL is not the end of my journey with helping kids – I am an education major and hope to help at least one kid the way PAL and Officer Ernie helped me.
Note: The Dance Program is still being offered at Rizzo PAL, and is currently led by Little Flower High School students, Kristin Kahlert and Veronica Fresta.