PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As gun violence continues to rage out of control on the streets of Philadelphia, kids like Munir Williams are finding refuge in Police Athletic League (PAL) centers.
"It kind of helped me manage my life and benefit me while also staying out of trouble," said Williams.
Williams has attended the Ford PAL Recreational Center on Snyder Avenue since he was five years old.
Joe Ellerby, a Philadelphia police officer and director of the Ford PAL Recreational Center, said kids like Munir are facing tremendous obstacles to success.
"They're facing a war like a block away. You got two street gangs going at it with each other," said Ellerby. "They're facing a lot of things, a lot of mental illness, education, love-- they feel like no one cares about them and don't hear their voice."
The PAL center serves as an outlet and provides a safe environment where kids have access to activities, mentors and job training. In the wake of the rising gun violence, PAL is extending its hours, and the city and police department are granting an additional $390,000 in funding.
"I got scholarships, they provided me with so much opportunities," said Williams.
As the center celebrates its 75th anniversary, Munir's mom said she is so incredibly proud that her son has graduated high school and is now attending Temple's Real Estate Institute.
"It takes teamwork," said mother Haneefah Williams. "It's just not something a mother or father can do to keep your kid out of it."
"These kids make choices -- some good, some bad," said Ellerby. "Where PAL plays a part is we give a lot of positive energy that you need and the right choices to make sure you do great things in this world."
There are 16 PAL centers throughout Philadelphia. Any kid can join them and it is free. After-school activities are provided and they are open all summer long.