Playing Ping Pong and Helping Others

By on 31 January, 2018 in Fun, Karren Pell with 0 Comments

A Ping Pong Tournament: Doesn’t that sound like fun? And to make it better, the event is a benefit for a fabulous program — Renascence.

The tournament and the fun start at 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 3, at the Alcazar Center at 555 Eastern Boulevard. Ping Pong (or table tennis, as some call it) is entertaining for a wide variety of folks, so brackets will match people by gender, age, and skill level. Entry fee is $10 for ages under 19 and $20 for those 19 and over. You can pre-register from now to Feb 28 at halfway-home.net. Students desiring service hours for playing may request a certificate at check-in. In addition to the excitement of the tournament, a variety of door prizes will be given away including a 40-inch flat screen television. There is also a “Slamfest Preview Party” from 6-9 p.m. at the Alcazar Center the Friday night before, but for adults only. For a $45 donation, guests will enjoy music, a silent auction, food, beverages, and a chance to warm up your skills with the Ping Pong tables open and ready for one and all.

Anybody can have fun playing Ping Pong. The physical impact of the sport is low, but the impact of playing to support men coming out of prison and helping them “bounce back” into productive members of society is enormous.

So let’s talk more about Renascence.

Tucked away in Cottage Hill, Renascence is a special place — a special home — the home of second chances. Renascence, Inc. maintains a residence on Clayton Street to help men who have been paroled for non-violent crimes to successfully reintegrate into society. The house provides transitional housing and a variety of support services like clothing and help with health care and transportation. The training includes life skills, a fatherhood program, GED preparation, and literacy instruction.

Residents are expected to find full-time employment or a full-time combination of work and education and volunteer service. Renascence requires its residents to become financially responsible by repaying any child-support obligations and victim’s compensation assessment, as well as by contributing 25% of their income to support the Renascence program. Residents must attend all house meetings, be present for certain evening meals, and abide by a nightly curfew.

In 2005, the planners for Renascence bought a house in the Cottage Hill neighborhood. The necessary renovation saved a historic residence. Planners met with the neighborhood civic association to get approval for a re-entry home in the neighborhood and accepted restrictions and guidelines to address their neighbors’ concerns.

Since 2006, the home has assisted over 285 men from all over Alabama with a stable, drug-free environment that requires them to set goals, take action, and be accountable. Renascence has an excellent reputation with local judges and probation offices. The house has never been the subject of a complaint to the police from the neighborhood.

Many groups of people benefit from Renascence. The families of the residents are the closest group as programs help the men re-connect in healthy, responsible ways. The neighborhood has good neighbors in a home that might have been lost due to neglect, but is now a beautiful renovation. Local employers have access to workers who come to the job sober, with adequate rest, and who have communal support. The program also benefits the Montgomery community at large: Since these men have a home and support system, they are not on the street or falling into previous negative behaviors. Renascence currently saves Alabama taxpayers over $17,000 a year for every resident who does not return to prison.

Renascence helps resident members to RECLAIM their lives by developing a strategy for their own success; REBUILD their lives with guidance and assistance from the staff; REINTEGRATE successfully into society as productive and responsible individuals.

Renascence’s web site, halfway-home.net, gives information and ways to donate or volunteer. However, a major way to help Renascence and have a good time is to participate in the Ping Pong Tournament.

So mark your calendar: The Ping Pong tournament starts at 9:00 Saturday morning on March 3 at the Alcazar Center on 555 Eastern Boulevard. There is also a “Slamfest Preview Party” on the Friday night before. It hardly gets any better than having a good time for a good cause.

So let’s get up a group and play some Ping Pong!

Karren Pell is a writer, teacher, and performer who lives with her husband, Tim Henderson, and an assortment of cats and dogs in Capitol Heights. She is the author of three books. Her musical compositions range from commercial songs to theatrical works, with five musical adaptations to her credit.

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