The Karen Volpe Preston Legacy Fund will be awarded annually to Chautauqua County High School graduates majoring in theater arts, with an interest in comedy as a career.
The world was Karen Volpe Preston’s stage.
The Cassadaga Valley Central School graduate followed her passion for performing to the State University of New York at Fredonia where she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts degree with a concentration in musical theater.
Since then, Karen and her husband, Paul, whom she met at Fredonia, traveled across the country performing in classic stage roles, comedy roles – both on stage and online, as well as numerous music performances with her trio, The Boobe Sisters.
Throughout her career, Karen always found new and innovative ways to give back and encourage other performers.
In 2005, she was cast as Gilda Radner in Bunny Bunny, a dream come true.
“It was one of her proudest moments, being able to play her idol,” Paul said. “The fact that it was also an opportunity to raise money for Gilda’s Club was just a bonus.”
In 2016, she returned to Chautauqua County for a series of performances and workshops, featuring her brothers, Paul and her Boobe Sisters counterparts, Leah Finkelstein and Heather Stewart. Many of her workshops were geared toward students.
“I love performing, but I love it even more when I get to come back and talk to the students in our community about what I’m doing,” Karen told The Post Journal at the time. “When I was a kid, making a living in singing and the performing arts seemed impossible…so I want to come back and help (these students) the same way I was helped.”
In 2019, Karen was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. She passed away on Christmas Eve that year.
The Karen Volpe Preston Legacy Fund was created at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation to support local students, who like Karen, dream of performing and are determined to make those dreams come true.
“It was rare for Karen to have as big of dreams as she did coming from a small town,” Paul said. “The whole point of this scholarship is to encourage students to follow their dreams, just like Karen.”