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Williams, LOEL director, volunteers to aid young, old, everything between

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Posted: Sunday, August 27, 2006 10:00 pm

Tracy Williams has been involved with almost every part of the Lodi community for more than two decades. She has volunteered for organizations from young to old, police to wine, for the sick and the well.

Tracy Williams

She is the executive director of the LOEL Center and Gardens, serving Lodi's senior citizens.

For her contributions to the community, she has been chosen as a Rising Star in the Lodi Community Hall of Fame. This is a new category, honoring a younger person whose community service is an inspiration to the community.

"I'm very honored and surprised," she said.

Other inductees this year include Dr. Peter Hetzner, for health care, an optometrist who has given back to the community; the Rev. David Hill, for community service, pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church and president of the Breakthrough Project; Bill and Carol Meehleis, for community service, owner of Meehleis Modular Building and supporters of many nonprofit organizations; David Vaccarezza, for business, president of California Waste Recovery Systems, who is involved in the community; and the late Horace "Bud" Woodworth, for agriculture, a farmer who was a community leader.

Williams was born and raised in Lodi. She graduated from Lodi High School in 1985. She received an associate of arts in criminal justice from San Joaquin Delta College in 1988, and she attended California State University, Stanislaus.

She worked at Lodi Memorial Hospital from 1990 to 2000 in purchasing and cost accounting. For a little more than a year, she worked as administrative assistant at the News-Sentinel, and then she became site coordinator at the LOEL Center. She moved up to be executive director in 2004.

For Williams, being involved with the community helps her keep up with what's going on, and each organization with which she's involved is equally valuable to her.

"I do these things not for recognition; I love the community I live in," she said. "I like to keep with the pulse of the town. What better way than to be involved?"

For 19 years, she served the Lodi Police Department in crime prevention. She was McGruff the crime dog for many years.

"It was fun," she said, adding that she never took off the mascot's head in front of the children because she didn't want them to know there was a person in the costume. She went to schools and crime fairs.

She has been involved with National Night Out the last 19 years, which is an event organizing block parties throughout town.

She and her nephew coached the Lodi Junior Giants baseball team of the Lodi Police Department. Many of the players were low-income children who didn't have an opportunity to be on a sports team.

Her desire to serve the community began in part when she started raising her nephew. She was involved with his classes and sports.

"It feels good to give back," she said.

She has been a wine ambassador for eight years, pouring wine for guests at Peirano Estates. She worked with the Boy Scouts of America for 11 years. She's also been an associate member of the Lodi Grape Festival, United Way volunteer; board member for the Lodi Memorial Hospital Foundation; chairwoman of Walk for the Health of It; Lodi High School Flame foundation member and president; member of the Lodi Lions Club; has helped the American Cancer Society; been chairwoman of the Lodi Junior chamber of Commerce; chairwoman of Summerfest; member of the Lodi Woman's Club; member of the Centennial Task Force for the city of Lodi; and this year, she is involved with Leadership Lodi.

"I don't know if she ever sleeps," said Theresa Larson, LOEL Center board member, in her nomination of Williams. "Honestly, the word 'no' may never become part of her vocabulary."

During her time at the LOEL Center, she has helped start new social and educational activities for seniors; expanded the Meals on Wheels program; increased fundraising events; and continued to work on providing low-cost housing for seniors.

"Tracy does an outstanding job over at LOEL Center - she's the right fit for the center and community," said Lodi Police Chief Jerry Adams. "She's got the right mix of community spirit and enthusiasm. Lodi's lucky to have her."

Contact reporter Jennifer Gokhman at jenniferg@lodinews.com.

First published: Monday, August 28, 2006

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