Each year the AHR Expo gives back to the community by donating the sum of its Innovation Award entry fees to an organization in the region where the show is being held. A selection committee chooses a deserving organization that is in need of HVACR repairs, upgrades or installations and that will put the money toward a product of this nature.

This year, the Jacksonville Police Athletic League (PAL) was selected as the beneficiary. This not-for-profit organization was also selected in 2010, the last time the AHR Expo was in Orlando. After receiving a record number of Innovation Award entries for the 2016 show, the AHR Expo will contribute $19,600 toward replacing and upgrading air handling systems at one of Jacksonville PAL’s facilities.

“We spend so much time focusing on making the AHR Expo a great experience for attendees, but we realize the importance of community outreach, too,” said Clay Stevens, president of International Exposition Company, organizers of the AHR Expo. “Donating entry fees to an organization in need is a small way of saying ‘thank you’ to the region that is hosting our show.”

For more than 40 years, Jacksonville PAL has aimed to enrich the lives of children by creating positive relationships between law enforcement officers and community youth through educational, athletic, and leadership programs. Today, it serves thousands of children and their families each year through its afterschool, sports, mentoring, teen leadership, summer camp, and scholarship programs. A partnership with local police and sheriff departments is tied in to establish trust and reinforce crime prevention among area youths.

“The education aspect is the most important part of the organization,” said Renee Naughton, managing director of Jacksonville PAL. “Our goal is to have kids start PAL at age five and keep them involved with the program through college. The police involvement builds a relationship of trust with area police officers; they are there every day interacting with the kids.”

The money given to Jacksonville PAL this year will be used in the organization’s largest facility, the Monument Road PAL Center, a building that totals about 40,000 sq ft. The Monument Road Center plays host to daily afterschool programs, basketball leagues, and miscellaneous community needs, in addition to being the organization’s headquarters. As this large building nears its 15th birthday, the five air handling systems that cool it are beginning to age out after years of hard work combating northeastern Florida’s warm, humid climate.

“The timing couldn’t be better,” said Naughton. “When we raise money through our donors, we like as much as possible to go to direct program services, such as the educational programs. A grant like this allows us to take care of, maintain, and replace equipment that’s not working and make those much needed repairs so we can put donations toward the kids.”

Jacksonville PAL’s basketball league serves 500-700 kids each year, making it one of the largest programs orchestrated by the organization. Between a standard league for kids ages eight to 18 and a junior league for younger players, gymnasium space at the Monument Road Center is in use almost year-round. Additionally, over 100 kids attend after school programs at the facility each day. With so many people using the building, there is an imperative need to keep HVACR equipment up and running to its full potential.