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Surprise donation for MPAL helps keep the magic happening


Jayna Stevens, left, MPAL Director of Operations and Development, reacts to receiving a $5,000 donation delivered by Holley Ackerson, right, of Brady Sullivan Properties. Photo/Carol Robidoux

MANCHESTER, NH — Behind every big check is a small yet compelling story.

This one is about the importance of paying it forward. It’s a simple concept that rewards good work and makes sure generosity and goodness continue, creating a philanthropic butterfly effect.

That is how the Manchester Police Athletic League keeps on keeping on, by reaping the rewards of its good work as a refuge and safe haven for kids in the community — currently 500+ are actively enrolled and the direct beneficiaries of a recreation center that provides free activities and instruction.

On Jan. 29, MPAL Director of Operations and Development Jayna Stevens thought she was meeting with Brady Sullivan Properties Mill West team to give them a tour of the place. Instead, she was handed a $5,000 check.

She was a little overwhelmed, but not really surprised. After all, she became involved with MPAL for the same reason that Mikel Macauley and Holley Ackerson of Brady Sullivan wanted to drop off a big check.

The place has magic.

The basement hang-out space designed by Jayna Stevens as part of the MPAL Building On Hope renovation, featuring reclaimed wood, pipes, movie posters, comfy chairs  — and an old candlepin bowling ball (top left corner) found in the attic on the day of the big reveal in 2016. Photo/Carol Robidoux

Stevens first rolled up her sleeves as part of the steering committee for the Building On Hope  $1 million renovation project, which transformed the MPAL center back in 2016 from time-worn to state-of-the-art. When a designer dropped out of the project, Stevens was called on to pinch-hit a blueprint for a lounge area in the basement gymnasium. Her design was translated into the popular cozy corner where kids can take a break during work outs.

Through that process Stevens fell under the MPAL spell, and was eventually hired to fill a grant position for director of the center, which means she’s now the woman wielding the magic wand.

From wrestling, boxing and judo, to cooking classes, FIRST robotics and public speaking, the free programming provided by volunteer experts — and the consistent generosity from big-check donors — makes it all possible.

The connection came In December, when Brady Sullivan was on a mission of its own, to deliver 1,000 Christmas bikes to kids through organizations like MPAL.

It was the first time Ackerson and Macauley had been through the recreation center, and they instantly felt the magic.

“Jayna took the time to give us a tour during the bike drop-off and it impressed us so much, and the group from Mill West felt so strongly about it. They bonded with the mission of MPAL, and it stuck with them to the point that they wanted to come back with a donation,” said Ackerson.

A surprise $5,000 donation from Brady Sullivan Properties will go a long way for MPAL kids and programming needs. Photo/Carol Robidoux

The $5,000 will come in handy for any number of needs, said Stevens – new weight equipment, summer programming, or to help cover the costs of getting kids to boxing competitions in Lowell, Mass.

Although any time is a good time for a big check presentation, this day the Brady Sullivan team arrived just as the gym was filling up with kids ready to punch bags, shadow box, and pump some iron. Stevens was happy to lead the group downstairs to see the basement in action.

“This is so incredible” Macauley says, after hearing more from Stevens about the dedication of volunteers and guidance of mentors, including Officer John Levasseur, MPAL coordinator and youth boxing coach.

“My eyes are filling up all over again,” Macauley says. “Once you speak with Jayna you instantly feel the magic — it overpowered me. She’s someone who really puts the community above herself, and that’s so important for us as a company, as well. We just wanted to do something to help support the good work of MPAL and the culture of community first.”

Get involved

It’s free to become an MPAL kid. To participate you must: 

  • Be between ages of 5 – 18
  • Be attending school
  • Be willing to maintain good grades
  • Be devoted to working hard
  • Have a desire to succeed
  • Have a desire to learn leadership skills

⇒Click here to sign up online.



About this Contributor

Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of ManchesterInkLink.com. Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!

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