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Chocolatier, Family Focus fan, raises funds to help students experience a spectacular summer

Disclaimer: I LOVE chocolate. So forgive me if this shout-out of local business woman and life-long Evanston resident Shannon Sudduth and her small but sensational Noir d'Ebene Chocolat et Patisserie is a little rich and a little sweet.

It’s not only her mouth-watering artisanal pastries, candies, and chocolates that have me singing Shannon's praises. She's something special. Being in Shannon’s presence feels something close to being bathed in a ray of sunshine. Her warmth, enthusiasm, generosity of spirit, and passion for making, baking, life, and living are infectious.

When she’s not experimenting with flavors and combinations in the basement kitchen of Family Focus Evanston, Shannon tutors and teaches middle school students at Family Focus’ after-school programs.

So though I’m going to tell you a little bit about Shannon, I first want to ask you, if you can, to support her Transportation Gummies fundraiser that will help provide bus transportation for Family Focus’ 80 summer students—third- through eighth-graders—to get from one activity (think laser tag, water parks, and other activities that make a kid’s summer fun) to another.

Located in Evanston’s fifth ward, Family Focus primarily caters to an underserved community, promoting the well-being of children from birth by supporting and strengthening parents and families.

The short story: Shannon's goal is to raise $2,000 to fund summer bus transportation. Donate $30 and Shannon will gift you with her gourmet Gummies, which come in three fabulous flavors.

Support Shannon’s fundraiser here!

Shannon’s love for Family Focus stems from the time she spent in its programs when she was in a young child.

I asked Shannon about her fundraiser, and a bit about herself and her Evanston roots.

DE: Why should people donate to your cause?

SS: I believe my students should have as many experiences as possible, constantly having seeds planted inside them. Transportation should be one less thing Family Focus worries about as they plan a magnificent summer.

Also, you get the pleasure of knowing you helped 80 children have a great summer. And, you get handcrafted Gummies, made by me and the students, shipped free! The child that still lives in you will appreciate that tremendously.

I believe we are supposed to take care of each other. We all have a gift to share that helps us and everyone around us.

DE: How much are you looking to raise?

SS: Last year, the community center spent $1,600 on summer transportation. I would like us to raise $2,000 this year. Seventy-five percent of each package of "Transportation Gummies" will be given to Family Focus. I’m asking 88 people to say yes to the summer, yes to adolescent fun, and yes to delicious handcrafted, perfectly sweet Gummies.

DE: An important question—what flavor Gummies will donors receive?

SS: They can pick one out of three flavors--Passion Fruit made with Purée, BlackBerry made with Purée, or Champagne, made with… Champagne!

DE: Where did you grow up?

SS: I was born and raised in Evanston, in the second ward. I live in the fifth ward now. My mom, who’s 71, came to Evanston from Lafayette, Louisiana, when she was still in high school. She came here, like most other people who left the south, for better opportunities. She had both a sister and a brother here who had come from Louisiana years before.

DE: How do you describe what you do?

SS: I am a pastry chef and bean-to-bar chocolatier, and educator. I make fabulous handcrafted savory and sweet items. I teach both students and adults how to make sweet and savory items.

DE: What do you love about Evanston?

SS: Evanston is diverse and accepts you if you choose to be accepted. Evanston is full of opportunity.

DE: What challenges do you see in Evanston?

SS: Learning about opportunities, new places to connect, and learning with each other. We, Blacks, whites, Asians, Hispanics, LGBTQ, and others must find opportunities to talk, laugh, eat, and share together. We really aren’t that different. We must smile and invite each other in.

DE: What motivates you?

SS: I love inspiring happiness. Food brings people together and I love being a part of that process, joy, pleasure, inspiring one to shimmy, smile, light up with delight.

Though Shannon doesn’t have a storefront (she should!), you can purchase her gourmet goodies online at

You won't regret it.

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