Deborah Valdes SENIOR RECREATION LEADER, Police Athletic League, Inc. PASEsetter winners go beyond just doing their jobs; they experience their work with New York City’s underserved young people as a calling. “Miss Debbie,” as she is affectionately called by co-workers, youth, and parents, is such a provider.
In her six years with the Police Athletic League (PAL), Debbie has served as a champion for young people and the community she serves. Whether she is connecting youth out of school for a “snow day” with snowbound seniors in need of meals, training agency staff on innovative methods for incorporating arts and literacy activities, or coordinating teen staff members to call senior citizens in need, her belief in the power of personal connection to change lives shines through.
Her charisma and respect for young people place Debbie in high demand with youth and families each season. The popularity of her Girls Inc. initiative, in which girls gather twice a week to discuss sensitive topics in a safe setting, led the boys of PAL to become jealous of the opportunity that was limited by gender. Not wanting to deny the young people the chance to dialogue across gender boundaries, Debbie organized a highly successful weekly Girls & Company session where all young people are welcome.
As the best youth workers do, Debbie leads by example, demonstrating through all her actions a deep commitment to the young people, their families, the community, and her organization. PAL and its young people consider themselves fortunate to have Debbie in their midst.