Nearly a decade ago, Lodi and its residents welcomed and comforted a newly relocated Suzanne Ledbetter. In return, she’s dedicated her life’s work to sustaining, preserving and improving the community.
In 2006 Suzanne married a Lodi farmer, moved to San Joaquin County and transferred to California State University, Sacramento. As a “news junky,” she focused her studies in public relations. “Reaching the community and sharing important messages was always something I wanted to be a part of,” she explains.
While welcoming many new norms, her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. “Growing up, every day he would come home and say, ‘tell me one good thing that happened today,’” she says with a smile. “He taught me how to write poetry, how to fish and how to cook…”
In the midst of many changes, Suzanne’s husband encouraged her involvement in Lodi’s tight knit community. “He thought it would be a great way for me to feel at home and build relationships.” Suzanne looked to her father-in-law and owner of Vino Farms, John Ledbetter, as she began devoting her time to the many charitable causes and organizations in the area. “We secretly call him Mr. Lodi,” she giggles. “He is an incredible man, and has spent his life nurturing relationships and giving back; He is my biggest mentor.”
In 2009 Suzanne joined the Hutchins Street Square Foundation, working actively with a board she says truly inspired her through their generosity. The foundation was formed in 1979 to pursue funding for the Hutchins Street Square we know and love today. “The founders had a great dream for our community; to have a beautiful community center in place of a burnt down school,” she explains. “This past year the foundation set up an endowment allowing for a sustainable source of income for generations to come.”
As the foundation’s Program Coordinator, Suzanne wears many hats, exercising her public relations background, spreading awareness and hosting large annual events. Beyond the foundation, she is Vice Chair of Lodi’s Boys and Girls Club, a member of Omega Nu, an Alpha Delta Chapter dedicated to charitable work in Lodi, and worked with the Lodi Chamber of Commerce to launch the first Young Professionals Committee. “It’s important to build resources for our youth,” she explains, “So we worked to create a network for young professionals; to nurture their success here in Lodi.”
“I want people to understand and be aware of all the great organizations in our area,” she says. “The people here have such a spirit of volunteerism and I’ve never seen anything like it!”
Currently, Suzanne is thrilled to be part of the fundraising, planning and execution of St. Joseph’s Farm to Heart, a farm-to-table event on June 13. The event benefits the installation and construction of The Hybrid Suite Project, a new facility with capability to transform from a cardiac catheterization lab to an operating room in a matter of seconds; providing access to new technologies and procedures like percutaneous valve replacement and repair on very sick patients.
St. Joseph’s and its growth is near and dear to Suzanne’s heart, as she believes the hospital saved the life of her son, Chase Parker Ledbetter. At 25 weeks, she was put on strict bed rest, and Chase was born at 31 weeks via emergency caesarean section. “We spent 45 days in the Intensive Care Unit at St. Joseph’s, and their care and compassion is unlike any other. They went above and beyond to make us feel comfortable and let us know that we were going to be okay.”
Today, Chase is a healthy and strong two-year-old boy, and Suzanne looks forward to watching him grow, and dedicating her time to the success of organizations nurturing their home.
DONT MISS “FARM TO HEART EVENT”
Farm to Heart
EVENT: June 13th
The Lincoln Farmhouse
3225 Deer Park Dr., Stockton
As one of the 10 busiest Heart Centers in the state, St. Joseph’s is working to expand their level of care through the Hybrid Suite- a facility offering technology, procedures and techniques that minimize pain and reduce patient recovery time. Jenny Copello, St. Joseph’s Development Associate explains, the concept of the Farm to Heart fundraising event for the Hybrid Suite was born over coffee shared between herself and Kris Sullivan in an effort to, “Bring everyone together for not only a great cause, but to celebrate San Joaquin County’s world renowned agriculture,”
The June 13th event at The Lincoln Farmhouse offers a fresh play on the trending farm to fork movement. The cocktail hour will be a “Farmers Market” theme, with each attendee receiving a reusable bag to gather their goodies from various booths. Vendors like Nipote Wine Imports, At the Table Together, Dancing Coyote Wines, Triple M Custom Farming, Golden Bear Ranches, Prima Frutta Packing, Bozzano Olive Ranch, Michael David Winery and others will be providing samples for guests to take home, while also donating their products to infuse the event’s appetizers, dinner and desserts with locally grown produce.
The dinner will be followed by live entertainment provided by The Jay Rolerz, perfect for after dinner dancing! Attendees will also have opportunity to participate in a short auction including romantic wine country getaways, unique daylong experiences, and epicurean delights!
“I envision all of the people that believe in San Joaquin County dining together, connected under the stars and market lights, enjoying their fresh, locally grown food, delicious wine and great music,” Jenny says. “I want them to walk away from the evening thinking, ‘Wow. We live in a pretty awesome place!”’
For More Information/To Purchase Tickets/To Become a Sponsor:
St. Joseph’s Foundation
(209) 467-6347, StJosephsCares.org/Foundation