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What does the Youth Center Director do?

Understanding Lansing

by Ashlee De Wit

LANSING, Ill. (April 2018) – So far, the Understanding Lansing series has introduced readers to the overview of Lansing’s government structure—the elected and appointed positions, the nine village department heads, and which Trustee is assigned to each department. We also described the work of three of the nine Village departments: Building Department, Public Works, and Economic Development.

Those stories are posted at thelansingjournal.com in the Understanding Lansing category.

This month, we’re moving on to another department—one that that serves our younger demographic.

The Patti Leach Youth Center

The Village of Lansing owns the Patti Leach Youth Center, and is also responsible for hiring its director—one of the nine appointed department heads. The current director is Jenna Comer-Hill, and she has held that position for almost 10 years. She reports directly to Village Administrator Dan Podgorski.

As Youth Center Director, Comer-Hill is responsible for planning and overseeing activities at the youth center. She also manages the budget and the facility, and she hires staff to assist her. Aside from Comer-Hill, the staff is currently composed of nine part-time employees—and they’re looking to hire a couple more.

Community commitment

“I think it’s extremely unusual for the village to invest in something like the youth center—it’s really unique thing,” Comer-Hill said. “It says that the village really cares about young people, and to be part of that is a big gift. It’s also supported by the community, and by adults who come back to help—it’s community-wide, and it brings people together.”

Each day, 40–50 students visit the Youth Center. The majority come from Memorial Junior High School or TF South High School. The students have many activity options when they attend: they can play video games or ping-pong, buy snack food from vending machines, or use the computer room to do their homework, for example.

“I love my job because I enjoy working with the kids,” Comer-Hill said. “I get to be that person who’s not their parent, but still listens to them, who shows them that there are other caring adults in their community.”

The Patti Leach Youth Center is located at 18123 Burnham Avenue, and is open every weekday from 3:30–8:00pm. Residents who are interested in learning more can call 708-418-8050.


Ashlee De Wit
Ashlee De Wit
Ashlee De Wit is a freelance writer and a Lansing native. After starting her career covering high school sports in Iowa, she's excited to be back in her hometown, reporting the stories of her local community — such as the opening of Troost, the informal Lansing pickleball club, a TF South Homecoming game, and Common Ground, Lansing's experiment with healthy race relations.