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Snapshot: Paula Toi



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Family: I have three children, all of whom graduated from Newtown High School and from universities in Connecticut. I also have five grandchildren, with a sixth on the way soon.

How long have you lived in Newtown? I have lived in many locations — Ontario, Canada; Clive, Iowa; Naperville, Illinois; and Plano, Texas. I moved to Newtown in 1996 from Plano. Living in such diverse parts of North America has provided opportunities to experience diverse cultures and gardening environments.

Career: By profession I am a CPA but retired several years ago.

Are you part of any clubs, organizations and/or communities of faith? Currently, I am president of The Garden Club of Newtown, which is more than a part-time volunteer job (laughs). I am very proud of what we have accomplished in the club, starting new projects, attracting and retaining new members, launching a website, and providing free monthly educational programs to our members and the community. I am also a member of the Altar Guild at Trinity Episcopal Church in Newtown. In the past, I was president of Newtown Newcomers Club, treasurer of the Middle Gate PTA, and served on the Vestry and as a Lector for Trinity Episcopal Church.

What do you enjoy doing with your free time? I love to swim at the Community Center, garden, read, knit, paint, preserve seasonal fruits and vegetables, and try new recipes. In the winter, I love to snowshoe since I no longer ski. I cherish the times I get to spend with my grandchildren, which is not always easy with busy families.

Favorite or most recently read book? I have been in the same book club since 1997 and we have read many genres. My favorite book genre is historical fiction. I studied history in my undergraduate years. I am currently reading Time’s Legacy by Barbara Erskine. I also like to read books by our local authors, which have included Andrea Zimmermann, Nancy Crevier, Sydney Eddison, Shirley Ferris, Sophronia Scott, Kathy Williams, and Harmony Verna. It’s nice, we have so much talent in town and their books are all different.

Who or what has been the greatest influence on your life? Both of my grandmothers. They taught me to not be afraid of insects, to garden, cook, knit, and be patient.

If you could spend time with one person, living or deceased, who would it be and why? If I could have dinner with one person, it would be Martha Stewart. I admire her creativity and her resilience. I would love to tap into her experiences in gardening.

Favorite movie genre? I love historically based movies, the ones that transport you to a different place and time.

Favorite music genre? I really love country music. I didn’t have much of a taste for it before moving to Texas but while there, I grew to appreciate the stories that the music brings. I don’t have a particularly favorite artist, but if Keith Urban is on the radio, I don’t turn it off.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given? The best advice I was ever given was by my mother, who said “Be kind and helpful to others.” She was always wanting me to be helpful. My father just said “Listen,” meaning if other people are talking, listen to them.

Do you have any pet peeves? My greatest pet peeve is sticky labels — you know, the ones that don’t come off easily and leave a papery gooey mess on your purchase!

Favorite color? My favorite color has to be red. It is such a happy and passionate color.

What is something you cannot live without? I couldn’t live without my morning cup of decaf coffee. I know, you say “Decaf??” But all the flavor is there and I don’t need the caffeine kick to get going in the morning.

What is your proudest accomplishment? My proudest accomplishments are seeing my three kids happy and raising their own families in very happy homes. That is a challenging thing in today’s world — for young people to be happy, and to raise a happy family. I’m so proud that all my kids are doing it. They’re quite incredible adults, and their children are happy kids.

What is your favorite thing about Newtown? I love everything about Newtown, from our local paper, our delis, restaurants, shopping, our two breweries, entertainment at Edmond Town Hall, the community and senior centers, Fairfield Hills, the Victory Garden, my church, my book club, and the dear friends I have made over the years. I love the feeling when I drive home after a busy day, I feel like I am going to a country retreat.

The Labor Day Parade! I’d never experienced anything like that before we moved here.

I think The Bee does a tremendous job of covering local government, businesses, schools and organizations. I look forward to it every week. I am particularly thankful for all the support The Bee provides to the Garden Club of Newtown.

Do you have a personal credo? Listen and don’t judge.

I try really hard to not judge. It’s difficult sometimes, but I think if you really listen to people, and listen to what they have to say, and understand it, you’re not going to judge them. You may not agree, but you shouldn’t judge somebody by it. In today’s political environment it’s very easy to judge people without really listening to why they believe and feel the way they do.

Paula Toi —Bee Photo, Hicks
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