Local senior learned lesson of giving back early

Volunteer helps police, animals, children
By: Laura Albright, Journal Correspondent
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Great, great granddaughter of a Placerville hanging judge, Paula Leahy is no stranger to the area. Her family goes back to the vigilante days in Placerville where her mother was third generation Placerville born. 

A retired phone and Internet technician in 2002, Leahy moved to Auburn in 2005 along with five other families of friends that relocated from the Bay Area to the surrounding areas of Auburn. In 2006 Leahy met Auburn Police Chief Valerie Harris at the Katrina Shoebox collection site and applied to volunteer at the police department. 

“I went to volunteer and starting talking to the police chief at the time, Chief Harris. With other volunteers we packed supplies for the Katrina victims in shoeboxes by age and sex and filled a tractor trailer. After that event I applied as a volunteer with the police department,” Leahy said. 

Day-to-day volunteer work is varied. 

“I do whatever will help the officers stay on the street,” Leahy said. “Paperwork, fingerprinting, events, volunteer coordination, and record filing. Sometimes I even get to work on a cold case.” 

Volunteering is like second nature to Leahy. 

“I was raised in a family that always gave back to the community. It started with picking fruit and giving it to churches to distribute. Then I joined Junior Achievement, chamber clubs and car clubs that gave back to local hospitals and needy families,” Leahy said. 

“If you need something done, she’s the kind of person that gets things done. She’s so passionate about the community, and is out there working on Auburn’s behalf,” said Sheryl Petersen, Recreational Services Manager, Auburn Recreation District. 

But it’s not just the family instilled sense of giving back for Leahy. 

“I love to interface with the pubic at events,” Leahy said. With the Auburn Police Department Leahy participates in Family Night Out and The Senior Health Fair (coming up Oct. 10) where she gets to enjoy the members of the community. 

But it’s not just the Auburn Police Department that has Leahy so busy. She’s the co-founder of a local animal rescue, Angels Rescuing Animals. She’s an active participant in Safe Kids, run by the surrounding fire departments and hospitals. Safe Kids sponsors education of seatbelts, water safety and helmet use. 

“Education goes out to schools, libraries and local events to bring safety to every day activities,” Leahy said. 

A new program that Leahy is very excited about is called Grandma Cop. Grandma Cop is an interactive program designed to educate children and help them gain emergency skills in an appropriate age-level fashion. 

“With Grandma Cop we go into schools at the preschool and Kindergarten level and encourage students to learn their names, addresses and phone numbers. With the older grades we talk about being a good citizen and putting a stop to bullying,” said Leahy. Grandma Cop will start in October in Auburn. 

And because Placer County has mandated that any child goes who goes through the court system must have a mentor, Leahy is also involved in the program called CASA, court appointed special advocate. 

“Each child is assigned a child advocate and for the last two years I have been involved,” said Leahy. 

“That’s what families did,” said Leahy. “We were taught to give back.”