San Mateo PAL Awards Night Celebrates 15 Years of Youth Activism

The San Mateo Police Activities League held their annual fundraiser and awards night Friday.


The San Mateo Police Activities League (PAL) celebrated 15 years of community youth outreach Friday with an evening of awards, recognition and fundraising.

Since 1997, PAL has been on a mission to reduce juvenile crime and delinquency in San Mateo by actively engaging with young people in an effort to create stronger, safer and better connected neighborhoods. Over the years, PAL has been able to provide thousands of kids with educational, recreational and leisure activities, and is particularly aimed at curbing destructive behavior in at-risk youth.

The event filled the auditorium at the Foster City Crowne Plaza Hotel Friday, as hundreds of guests reached into their wallets in support of PAL’s programs, making contributions, bidding on auction items, and paying $150 per-person for tickets to dinner. Event organizers said they were hoping to raise between $40,000-$50,000 in all, though just how much was brought in won’t be known until Monday.

 “We couldn’t do it without the support of the community, said San Mateo Police Officer and PAL Director Jeff Aspillera. “Without them, we couldn’t run the programs that we run. It’s important for us to be able to reach out and build that bond between cops and kids for the city of San Mateo,” he said.

But it was also a night for PAL to recognize many of the individuals who give of their time to make the PAL initiative successful.

San Mateo Police Officer Christine Klein was recognized as the PAL Officer of the Year for the important role she fills as a mentor to at-risk teenage girls in the community. Because of her experience as a cheerleader in college, Klein oversees PAL’s Girls Dance Program, offering young women the chance to express themselves creatively. Other PAL programs include backpacking trips, basketball leagues and camps, computer lab access and fishing expeditions.

Lisa and Brian Tatola-Joachim and their five children were presented with the Family of the Year award for the time and energy they’ve put in to help reduce gang-related activity among Tongan youth in San Mateo, Burlingame and San Bruno. Angelina Ruano was named Youth of the Year for making great strides in her personal life after something of a rocky start. Ruano credited PAL with helping her to overcome a difficult family life and struggles with drugs and alcohol at an early age.

State Senator Jerry Hill was also in rare form Friday, acting as an honorary charity auctioneer. Of the several prize packages up for bid, a collection of San Francisco 49ers memorabilia, including an autographed Jerry Rice Jersey, four tickets to a game next season and sideline access, was presented by former 49ers Allan Kennedy and Dennis Brown. The bundled items sold for $6,200.

You can see Senator Hill call out the winning bid in the video above.


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