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November 28, 2023 17 mins
Having dedicated 27 years of service to the Albany Police Department, retired Sergeant Lenny Ricchiuti has made quite an impact on his community, most notably in the area he was raised-- Albany's South End. Since his retirement, Lenny has become the Albany Police Athletic League's (PAL) Executive Director. An affiliate of the National Association of Police Athletic Leagues, Albany saw this nonprofit's inception in 1988. Its mission now is the same as it was then: "The Albany Police Athletic League (PAL), Inc., builds partnerships among youth, police and community through collaborative programs designed to encourage and develop good citizenship, healthy lifestyles and improve the quality of life in Albany, New York". Lenny's involvement with the organization has lasted over 30 years, the majority of which in a leadership capacity.Below is an excerpt from Lenny's nomination for the FBI Directors Community Leadership Award, submitted by Director Wray. Lenny received the award this past May at the FBI National Headquarters:"Lenny’s leadership as a volunteer at those first few PAL events in 1988 were crucial to the early success and are as important today whether raising funds or awareness, managing the daily operations or working with a child during an after-school enrichment program. Currently Albany PAL serves more than 2000 youth annually with a wide range of recreational, educational, social and athletic programs and has approximately 500 youth participating in weekly after school enrichment programming. Enrollment is drawn from every socio-economic demographic and finances will never dictate a child being accepted... Each and every program participant finds a safe non-judgmental space and a program that nurtures and teaches. There is trust that is built between child and mentor. A tool kit is constantly replenished to allow each child to reach their fullest potential, understanding that the adults they interact with [are] totally committed to them."Building community relations and mutual respect between law enforcement and the community is one of Lenny's top goals as Executive Director. As one of the only people who's been with the organization since 1988, Lenny has seen many a mentee grow up to become a mentor. The nonprofit has come a long way since its first event at Bleeker stadium, an Olympic style field day that saw 400 kids and 90 officers. Now, PAL has 8 locations in Albany, and only continues to grow. To keep up with the ever-changing trends and interests of kids, PAL's programs center around various topics such as Robotics, Legos, STEM activities, crime scene analysis/other police work, chess club, STEP teams, cosmetology programs, etc. And if there is a program a child is interested in that they don't offer, they work hard to make it happen. Their library is currently full of 2000 books to help cultivate an enriching learning experience for the youth, and during their Christmas program PAL provides a book and a stocking stuffer to each child in the program. Lenny has a great appreciation for the financial support the organization receives from the community, which helps keep PAL's services accessible for kids in need.Lenny has pride watching his community continue to grow and flourish and wants to continue to foster a positive connection between law enforcement and local families. As an active member of his community since his youth, he stresses the importance of service not only to the community but also for the individual. "There is nothing more rewarding than that feeling you get from a full heart and a full mind knowing you were able to impact a life and/or community", he says.10 years from now, he sees PAL staying in "growth mode". Based on the organization's track record and all the new opportunities that continue to present themselves, he foresees even more community engagement not just from cops but also local parents and other volunteers. He is always planning for the future and is even working on a job description for an assistant director position. His goal is the same as it ever was: to positively impact new lives.For more info, visit AlbanyPAL.org. If you want to contact Lenny, you can email him at programs@albanypal.org or call (518)435-0392. As Lenny says, "Every kid needs a pal. Before kids can go places, they need places to go."Lenny Ricchiuti is a CEO you should know.
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