Roy Leath, Jr. - Pine Hills Community Center
For multiple reasons, I have visited the Pine Hills Community Center over 100 times since 2019. It probably would have been double that amount if it were not for the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the mainstays during my many visits has been Roy Leath, Jr. His calm and professional demeanor always resonated with me, making it easy for us to connect. On several visits to the Center, Roy would summon me to his office, where I would pull up a chair and chat for a few minutes. Our conversations were always lighthearted but meaningful. In those few minutes, we would discuss upcoming changes and upcoming events happening at the Center and throughout the community. I decided Roy would be the perfect person to feature for our first ever Community Leader Focus. The section, much like the name, will introduce our readers to a community leader whose work makes an impact on the daily lives of our residents.
The first thing you will notice about Roy is his height. At 6' 8", he is, by all definitions, tall. His height would come in handy growing up as a basketball player. The high school standout from Polk County (Lake Wales) would catch the eyes of recruits and would end up attending and playing collegiately at Seton Hall University. His basketball journey would bring him back to central Florida during his senior year to be closer to family, where he wrapped up his college career playing for the University of Central Florida.
Roy's work career is checkered and unique and includes stints as a teacher at Lockhart Middle School and Wekiva High, where he taught History, served as a SAFE Coordinator, and taught AVID. He would also use his experience as a basketball player to coach the girl's basketball team, where he would not win a game in the first two years. In his third year, his team went to Elite Eight, and in his fourth year, they won the County, marking the first time the school ever won a county title.
Roy's tenure working for Orange County began at Great Oaks Village, an almost 100-year-old residential foster group home for children. It is the only foster care facility operated by Orange County. He would serve multiple roles at the Village. However, his time at the Community Action Division began at Holden Heights Community Center before landing at the Pine Hills Community Center in 2019. I asked Roy what is his primary job as a Center Supervisor? Without hesitation, he responded, "To make sure that people leave here better, period." Roy wants the community to know that they can come to the Center for help. "If we can't help you physically help you here, we can direct you to where you should go," stated Roy. Roy takes his role very seriously. He has a deep sense of responsibility to the Center and everyone who visits and works there. From the Headstart program, which boasts over 200 4-year-olds, to the various community groups that meet there, including the Pine Hills Seniors, he takes pride in ensuring that Pine Hills Community Center runs smoothly. Multiple programs and groups currently meet at the Center. Roy aims to expand partnership offerings so more community members can become involved.
As a Central Florida transplant, I am always interested in learning trivia about Orlando. One piece of trivia I learned from Roy about the Pine Hills Community Center is that it used to be a YMCA center with a pool! Who knew?
Thank you Roy for all you do to help our community!