Cynthia Frohlichstein wants her tombstone to read: It’s never been boring. That sentiment is certainly reflected in her resumé, which runs the gamut from teacher, actress, model and travel writer to, most recently, author. And even at 83, the retired St. Louis native continues to write children’s books—a passion that fuels her favorite hobby: giving back.
Frohlichstein shifted the focus of her life toward service after beating breast cancer in her 40s, and became dedicated to helping charities that gave people a fighting chance against disease, hunger and other life challenges.
So when it came to publishing her children’s book, The Perils of the Peanut Butter Kid, she decided a percentage of the proceeds would go to cancer charities. In addition, she encouraged local residents to donate peanut butter to area food pantries, and gave copies of the book to children’s charities such as the Mathews-Dickey Boys’ & Girls’ Club, JDRF and Lydia’s House. “When you are able to do anything that helps other people, it just gives back so much to you,” she says.
The Perils of the Peanut Butter Kid is an exaggerated version of the tale Frohlichstein used to tell her grandson about his father’s love of peanut butter. “Its motto is: You can have too much of a good thing,” she says. The book, which has earned local and national awards, led to her blog, The Peanut Butter Lady, and a sequel, The Perils of the Peanut Butter Dog, which she aims to have published soon. That story is modeled after her dog, Paprika, who shares her son’s obsession with peanut butter. This time around, she hopes to donate a percentage of the book’s sales to nonprofits that support patients with Parkinson’s disease—the illness that afflicts her husband, Harvey.
Frohlichstein’s dedication to the community has been recognized with multiple awards, including OWL’s Woman of Worth and the Women of Achievement awards. She continues to make an impact in community service through her involvement in organizations such as the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival and Press Club of Metropolitan St. Louis. Frohlichstein says one of the Press Club’s goals— getting all sides of the truth out through newspapers and other media—is an important mission she always wants to support. “Even after I die, I am staying on the board of the Press Club.”