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Patti Leach Youth Center celebrates two decades of service in Lansing, Illinois

by Patricia Muhammad

To be honored in life long after you are no longer living is a grand achievement. The Patti Leach Youth Center (PLYC) in Lansing will host a 20th anniversary event on November 4 to commemorate the life and contributions of Patti Leach, and to celebrate the center’s committed services to local middle school and high school youth, according to Youth Center Director Jenna Comer-Hill.

Patti Leach Youth Center
Patti Leach
“Patti Leach was a dedicated and well-respected community member who was both a Village and Park Trustee for the Village of Lansing,” Comer-Hill said. “I would have parents come in and sign their children up, and they would say, ‘Oh yes, Patti Leach was my gym teacher, or ‘I remember Patti Leach from girls’ softball.’ Overall, she was just an involved community member.”

The theme for the 20th anniversary celebration is: “PLYC 20/20 Future So Bright.” Children will give tours to celebrate the last two decades for the Center. The center will recognize the Village of Lansing, local businesses, and the community for the Center’s 20 years of success.

“The Youth Center will be celebrating 20 years of service in November—that’s a really big deal for us here in Lansing,” said Comer-Hill. “The celebration is for those who have come through the Center, have worked here, or for community members who have supported the Center. We just want to thank everyone for the last two decades.”

Dr. Cecilia Heiberger, Superintendent for District 158, knew Leach during her employment with District 158. Heiberger offered heartfelt words about the P.E. teacher and girls’ softball coach. “She was a person with such a great heart, and she would stop at nothing to help a child or family in need. This district was fortunate enough to have had her on our staff, and we are grateful for all that she has done for the families in this community.”

Through the years, hundreds of children have come through the Patti Leach Youth Center to participate in the supervised after-school activities. Currently, Comer-Hill manages 40–50 students each day from local schools. “The majority of our kids come from Memorial Junior High and TF South High School, but we also have a homeschool group that comes here pretty often. We have some parochial schools here in Lansing and also outside of Lansing,” she said.

Comer-Hill shared that, for proper security measures, adult employees always supervise the rooms. With an 11-member staff, employees rotate and spend 30 minutes in each room. Staff consists of 11 part-timers and 1 full-time director, including some high school and college students.

Patti Leach Youth Center
The Patti Leach Youth Center has been serving Lansing youth and families for two decades.
“The Youth Center is a drop-in program for middle school and high school youth. When they walk in the building, we don’t necessarily make them do anything. It’s not the type of program where they have to sit and do homework. While they receive supervision, we give them the autonomy to do homework or play. They also get to hang out with their friends,” Comer-Hill said.

The Center has four rooms filled with a variety of activities. Students can hang out in the lounge area and play video games or try their hand at ping-pong or foosball in the Theme Room. The Snack Room is available for students to buy food from vending machines. The Computer Room has 11 computers for children to do homework or play mind craft games. The fourth room is a special room built by the Lions Club International. According to Comer-Hill, the Lions organization donated materials and renovated a room at the center 20 years ago. Today, the room is known as the Lions room.

The Village of Lansing owns, operates, and funds the Patti Leach Youth Center. The Center opens its doors each day, Monday through Friday, 3:30pm–8:00pm.

To learn more about PLYC 20th Anniversary celebration, contact the Patti Leach Youth Center by calling 708-418-8050.

Patricia Muhammad
Patricia Muhammad
Patricia Muhammad is a contributing writer for both The Lansing Journal and the South Holland Shopper. She enjoys writing stories about events, people, and places she feels would interest local residents—such as the Lansing Car Show, Super Teci's benefit, Water's Edge, and Recycling 101. She is also a published author of three children's books: Princess Feldings & The Academy of Queens, Prince Hasmir High Seas Adventure, and When Jaguars Roar.