by LINDA FRABL | photo by Soul of Photography

Award-Winning Volunteer

After teaching grades four through eights for 34 years, Kathy O’Leary retired in 2003. That hasn’t stopped her from continuing to serve the greater community, though! Since 2004, Kathy has been an active member of the Assistance League of Rancho San Dieguito, an all-volunteer nonprofit that helps the needy.

Discussing the organization, Kathy elaborated, “I knew about its signature program, Operation School Bell, because some of my students had received new clothes and shoes through the program. I have since served as the League’s VP of Philanthropic Programs and VP of Resource Development. I was also the chapter president from 2008-2011.”

“It is a joy to see the happy faces of the children whom we serve.”

As the recipient of the 2017 Ada Edwards Laughlin Award, named for one of the founders of Assistance League, Kathy said, “The award is given to a member who works behind the scenes and is not a current board member. It was an amazing honor that means so much because the chapter recognizes and appreciates the work that I do.”

The behind-the-scenes work that Kathy does for Assistance League is plentiful. It includes: compiling the schedules and sending out email blasts to over 600 customers for the Assistance League Thrift Shop (located at 1542 Encinitas Blvd.), organizing weekly math and reading lessons for the volunteers at the St. Leo’s Head Start program, chairing the Grants Committee, and even knitting up clothing for military babies through the Knifty
Knitters program.

Name: Kathleen Claire O’Leary
Community: Village Park
Volunteer Affiliation: Assistance League of Rancho San Dieguito
Profession: Retired teacher
Family: I was born and raised in Aurora, IL. My father was the assistant postmaster and my mother worked in an upscale clothing store. I have one younger sister.
Hobbies & Interests: Reading, knitting, baseball, volunteering, movies, traveling
Favorite Local Spots: The Roxy, Assistance League Thrift Shop, Encinitas Library

When asked about her favorite aspects of volunteering for Assistance League, Kathy commented, “I enjoy working at the Thrift Shop and having personal contact with our loyal customers. Also, it is a joy to see the happy faces of the children whom we serve at our annual shopping events at Target stores!”

In addition to her Assistance League duties, Kathy acts out stories for local schoolchildren through the Carlsbad Senior Readers Theater Group, an organization she helped assemble 11 years ago. Kathy is also on the state board of the California Retired Teachers Association, and she is the executive secretary for the Delta Kappa Gamma Society, a group that promotes the personal and professional growth of women educators.

As a Village Park resident for over 40 years, Kathy admitted, “I enjoy the beautiful weather and the friendly people.” In her free time, Kathy enjoys dining out with her husband, reading, watching baseball games, seeing movies, and traveling.

Name of Group: Assistance League of Rancho San Dieguito
Purpose/Mission: Assistance League volunteers transforming lives of children and adults through community programs
Thrift Shop Phone: 760-634-1091