Several volunteers and first responders spent part of Saturday, June 19 prepping and painting the exterior of the Las Cruces Police Athletic League Boxing Gymnasium, 700 N. Solano Drive, in anticipation of the gym's opening as the public health emergency subsides.
The PAL gym has been closed since the beginning of the pandemic, in March 2020, and the building, even before the public health emergency, was in need of aesthetic attention.
In years past, PAL has served about 80 registered youth at a time in various activities including boxing and fitness training. Upcoming plans for PAL which have been discussed with City officials, are to focus on various activities such as chess, tutoring and other engaging curriculum, in addition to athletics.
“We envision PAL becoming more of a Police Activities League instead of just athletics,” said Louie Burke, a former world-class boxer and boxing trainer for world champions Austin Trout and Jennifer Han. “We want PAL to be more inclusive and serve a wider-range of youth in our community.”
Burke has also been a firefighter with the Las Cruces Fire Department for the past 24 years. The gym is also named, in part, for Sammy Burke, Louie's father, who was a longtime boxing coach for Las Cruces youth.
More than 30 volunteers, Community Outreach officers from the Las Cruces Police Department and firefighters from the Las Cruces Fire Department spent much of their time working on the exterior of the PAL gym. The work included prepping and painting the exterior of the building.
Among the volunteers was Han, the current woman's Featherweight World Champion, from El Paso. Also volunteering were several parishioners from Las Cruces First, and Wild West Martial Arts and Fitness. Three professional painting companies – Calderon’s Quality Painting, JRC Painting and EROD Painting – provided their expertise along with Raul Sanchez and Ronnie Navarrete from The Home Depot. The Home Depot also donated paint, supplies and breakfast for the volunteers.
Beginning at 7 a.m. Saturday, June 26, volunteers will turn their attention to repainting and refurbishing the gym's interior. Anyone who wants to volunteer is asked to meet at at the PAL building.
Organizers anticipate opening the PAL gym to area youth this summer.