Paula Boothe

Paula Boothe volunteers with Cornerstone School and Special Children's League. (Photo by Mary Jo Hazard)

Sometimes, you don't appreciate where you live until you move away.

That's what happened to Paula Boothe who grew up on the Peninsula.

Boothe and her husband Allen began their lives together as sweethearts at Rolling Hills High School. But it wasn't until she went to college, got married and moved away that she realized how special Palos Verdes was, she said.

The Boothes decided the Peninsula was the best place to raise a family, so they moved back to Rolling Hills Estates. Their three children attended the local schools and graduated from their parents’ alma mater, now known as Peninsula High School.  

When Boothe was pregnant with her first child, she was the number one sales representative for the Orange County Register.

Though she loved her job, her husband encouraged her to quit and become a stay-at-home mom.

“I told him I can’t do that,” she said. “I’m earning trips and doing great at work.” 

Boothe said once she held her baby for the first time, any thoughts about returning to work "flew right out the window."

A few years later when her children were preschoolers at Palos Verdes Nursery School, she began volunteering.

It was while supervising work on the Palos Verdes Directory, that Boothe made an interesting discovery. She learned that many years earlier, her mother-in-law, Frances Boothe, had volunteered at the school and had performed the same job.

"Here I was following in the footsteps of this amazing woman who has always given back," said Paula. "What a role model she’s been for me.” 

Paula centered her volunteer work around her children. After they finished preschool, she enrolled them in Cornerstone School at Pedregal, a parent participation elementary school in Rancho Palos Verdes.

There she volunteered three hours a week in the classroom. And, she held a board position in their booster club. 

Having parents work in the classroom alongside the teacher is unique, said Jeri Berlin, a Cornerstone second-grade teacher for the last 21 years.

And while many parents come and go, said Berlin, there are people they remember long after they’ve left Cornerstone.

"Paula Boothe is one of them," said Berlin. "She worked tirelessly, not only for her own three children, but for all the students and staff at Cornerstone. There was no job too big or too small for Paula. It comes as no surprise that every time I run into Paula or read about her, she is still donating her time to help better our schools and community.”

After Cornerstone, Boothe became the coordinator for the Palos Verdes Assembly, served on the pool committee at Peninsula High School, and was the president of the Athletic Booster Club. 

Five years ago, a friend invited Boothe to the Special Children’s League (SCL) annual event. She was inspired.

“Their dedication is incredible,” she said of the SCL.  “I decided to volunteer. Several of the ladies in SCL were volunteers at Cornerstone when I was there and now we’re together again which is nice.” 

The Special Children’s League began 62 years ago when a small group of women gathered to support a friend who had a special needs child. The group continues to support children with developmental disabilities and their families. Currently, there are 32 active members and one provisional. The group has six members who have a special needs child or young adult. 

“We support our members and our community,” Boothe explained. “We provide opportunities and resources for people with special needs to enrich their lives and help them reach their greatest potential.”

The SCL benefit luncheon, which Boothe is co-chairing along with Suzanne Durnell and Kristin Kudrave is on Nov. 22, at the Palos Verdes Golf Club.

There will be a boutique, silent auction, and guest speaker, Kim Hudson. The event typically raises around $107,000 which benefits United Cerebral Palsy of Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara Counties, eleven programs serving the developmentally disabled, and provides grants to local special education teachers.

Teacher Jeri Berlin’s classroom has received some of these grants.

“As a member of Special Children's League, Paula helps those in need, raises awareness, and continues to help grant our wishes. The Special Children's League has generously funded grants for innovative seating, as well as STEM and other hands on learning activities for my classroom,” she said.

Boothe insists she get back more than she gives.

“Volunteering has enriched my life with different experiences and friendships. I’ve cherished them all, especially those involving children,” said Boothe. “I’ve learned compassion and how to care for others. I’m dedicated to being a positive role model for my children. I’m passionate about my commitment to volunteering and give it all my heart. I would be honored to give back to our community once again.” 

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