Citizen of the year: Lori Patterson recognized for work in the community

Published 3:22 pm Wednesday, March 16, 2022

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Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in “Progress 2022: Centers of Community.” Copies of this magazine are available at The Clanton Advertiser office.  

By JOYANNA LOVE | Managing Editor

Lori Patterson has contributed to the Chilton County community in a number of ways.

Many know her as the CEO of the YMCA of Chilton County, a position she started in 2016. Some know her from her work in Chilton County Schools and serving on the Board of Education. However, she is also involved at First United Methodist Church of Clanton, where she started the Helen Parrish Circle women’s group and has volunteered as a part of a number of community fundraisers.

She often works behind the scenes to ensure things go smoothly.

“She likes to stay in the background, so it is nice to see it recognized,” Lori’s husband Jimbo said of the award. “… She does everything with excellence. She doesn’t want it to be halfway. She doesn’t want it to be average.”

The person chosen as the Citizen of the Year is kept a secret until publication, so Lori Patterson was not told.

Citizen of the Year committee member Vanessa McKinney said she and Patterson have been a part of the local Arthritis Fundraiser for several years.

“I feel that Lori has gone above and beyond in this community,” McKinney said.

Michell Perrin and Tisha Woodham-Creel both work with Patterson at the Y and described her as “compassionate” and committed to caring about the children of the community.

“Lori is always looking for new ways to encourage others to keep healthy habits,” they said.

At the Y, Patterson has done this through expanding the exercise classes and activities for adults and children that are offered.

Nutrition and combating hunger have also been a focus through the Lunch Box Rocks initiative she started at the Y, which provides meals to children on the weekends and other times when schools are closed.

She also spearheaded the establishment of before school and after-school program at the Y.

“She is always putting children first,” Jimbo said. “… She is always looking ahead to the next thing that she can do to help the Y.”

A Chilton County native, Patterson graduated from Chilton County High School and attended Auburn University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in environmental science. This is also where she met her husband Jimbo. After graduation, the couple married and moved to Georgia for a few years before moving to Chilton County.

Patterson later completed her master’s degree in education at the University of Montevallo. She taught science in Chilton County Schools from 1998-2001.

The Pattersons’ twins Lawson and Lydia were born in 2001. Their daughter Lydia had a health issue with her neck that required regular visits to Children’s of Alabama and later Angel Flights to Atlanta for treatment.

During this time, Lori Patterson took a year off from teaching and then became fitness director at Cornerstone in 2002.

Lawson and Lydia are in college now.

The couple has also served as foster parents to nine children.