Board members, employees and volunteers share their memories of Gary Leofanti, Aunt Martha's founding director

Memories of Gary

50 Years 50 Stories

And now for something completely different

Gary Leofanti came to the Village of Park Forest in 1972 because something was different there. It always had been. Of course, always is a relative term.

A youth(ful) movement

Park Forest had youth on its side. Literally.

It’s Youth Commission was a motivated and politically savvy group of young people and civic-minded adults. And, in Leofanti, it now had a Youth Worker with exactly the experience their community needed.

But it also had the figurative advantage of being a youthful community, still less than 25 years old in 1972. People literally could not say, “Because that’s how we’ve always done it.” Something was indeed different.

And with its new Youth Worker on board, nothing would ever be the same. Today, Aunt Martha’s board members, volunteers and employees share their memories of Gary.

Thank you for the memories, Gary!

John Annis is a longtime member of Aunt Martha's board of directors with many fond memories of Gary Leofanti

He’s just an unbelievable person.

– John Annis, Aunt Martha’s Board of Directors

More stories about Gary, his legacy, and the early years at Aunt Martha’s

September 16, 2022

A Vision for Social Change

25-year old Gary Leofanti had just wrapped up his first official meeting as Park Forest’s new youth worker when he was asked about the relevance of his background in business and economics. That background, he said was an asset.

“Economic planning is a big consideration in implementing social change,” Leofanti said, according to the Park Forest Star on Sunday, March 5, 1972.

“If one can create a big enough demand for something, eventually it will get implemented.”

Gary's Vision tells the story of Aunt Martha's founder
youth worker on job

September 2, 2022

Raul Garza talks to Gary Leofanti

So after you graduated from Wayne State, how did you end up coming to Park Forest?

Well, after graduation, my field placement turned into a job, and I stayed there for about five, six months. Then I responded to an ad for a youth worker in Park Forest. And I interviewed for the job. And I liked the community and that, that’s the story there.

But you were you were originally committed to going back out east. So you had to pay back your salary [at a job in Massachusetts] in order to take the job in Park Forest and move to Park Forest?

Right. I paid back the salary.

How much was the salary you had to pay back?

July 15, 2022

‘The Kind of Stuff that Makes it Work’

Follow former board members (and another special friend!) from the board room to the back nine, with a stop or two along the way.

You’ll hear about an unexpected visit from the The Salvation Army. And we’ll imagine what might have been by lifting the lid on a story that’s no waste of your time.

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