FROM THE MINUTE you begin talking with Beth Stern, it is immediately apparent she is a warm, open, compassionate person. After we quickly realized we both grew up in Pittsburgh, are huge Steelers fans, and our dads played Big 10 college football, our conversation flowed with ease. We shared our love for the Steel City and how our hearts always melt as we come through the Fort Pitt Tunnel and the expanse of the metropolis opens up welcoming us home with open arms. But of course, our time spent together was not only about nostalgia for our hometown, but equally about our shared love for Palm Beach. After exploring other areas of Florida a few years ago, Beth and her husband, radio jock and amateur photographer Howard Stern, soon settled on Palm Beach. Since then, they have fallen in love with its people, restaurants and the serenity of their beautiful oceanfront home. We also spoke at length about her international animal activism, which is the focus of her daily life.
We could talk about Pittsburgh and football all day, but let’s talk about Palm Beach.
Of course! I’m a Florida girl, and I love Palm Beach. Howard and I have such a feeling for Florida. When we were both growing up, he would visit his grandfather in Miami, and I would visit my grandmother in Naples. When we got engaged, we both said, ‘Let’s spend time in Florida since we both had great memories from there.’ We started looking at places, and Miami just didn’t feel like a vacation for Howard—it was hard to find any privacy for him there. We had heard so many wonderful things about Palm Beach, and we began spending time at all the fabulous hotels and learning about the island. We eventually got a house— which we love—and we adore all the restaurants. We like everything about Palm Beach—everything!
I know! My husband and I adore it here. Palm Beach is very relaxing and a place where you can fly under the radar and have your privacy if you so choose.
Exactly. We feel really good after a stay in our home here. It’s an escape from reality. There’s nothing more blissful than being here. The weather is great; the people are so wonderful. We just feel so comfortable here.
What’s a typical day for you in Palm Beach?
(Laughs) Well, we both get up early because we are so excited to be here. Howard’s schedule for years at the radio has been waking up at 4:30am, and I always get up with him. So on vacations and weekends, we keep the same schedule. We get up between 4:30am and 5am, and we are ready to go. We love taking morning walks on our own beach or on the intercoastal trail, as well as hanging out by our pool. I always have a cat or kittens with me that I am working with or socializing to get them ready for adoption. Howard and I go out to dinner every night about 6:30pm. We love all of the restaurants in Palm Beach! Then, we go home, go to bed, and it starts all over again at the same time the next day.
How do you socialize your cats?
I just spend time with them. I pick them up all the time. Over Thanksgiving this year, I got a message from an Instagram follower who found three blind kittens on the side of the road in Miami. They looked terrible, and this follower didn’t know what to do with them. I called a friend of mine who works with Dogs and Cats Forever in Fort Pierce, and she picked up the kittens and held onto them for a couple of weeks until I got back to Palm Beach. I went to pick them up as soon as I got into town, holding them closely throughout the day so that they could feel my heartbeat. Now, they are with us in the Hamptons, and they are the most delightful kittens you have ever met. When I walk into the room, they come running over to me. They love to play and have their bellies scratched, and they are ready to be the perfect pets for someone. I can’t wait to match them up with someone.
Recently, Howard and I were walking along the intercoastal trail when a kitten jumped in front of us onto the path (it happens almost all the time when we take this walk). We took her over to Island Animal Hospital, where she’s been under the great care of Dr. Mary Ellen Scully, and I can’t wait to find her a forever home. Howard named her Mayflower since we found her Thanksgiving weekend. Every time we go on that walk, we are involved in an animal rescue, but it is my life and I love it. It’s all good.
Do you work with more cats than dogs?
I have been the spokesperson and volunteer for North Shore Animal League America in Port Washington, N.Y., for 14 years, same for the Long Island Bulldog Rescue and also am a trained rescuer for wildlife rescue in the Hamptons. My work has always been with dogs and cats, helping to facilitate adoption. While I was volunteering, I just saw how sad the situation was for cats and kittens, so I thought, if my husband and I could just dive in and start rescuing, we could change a lot of lives of those that we touch. We have fostered about 500 animals and found loving homes for them. It might be over 500 by now since I have more than 16 kittens in my house now in our foster room. I adore this work. There is nothing I love more.
Five-hundred! That is an amazing contribution you and Howard are making in the animal rescue community.
I don’t have human children, so this is my purpose right now. I’m so busy. My whole day is saving animals.
Do you work with any specific groups in Palm Beach saving animals?
Yes, Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League, Island Cats and Dog and Cats Forever Inc. in Fort Pierce.
How do you find homes for all the animals you have fostered. Is there a specific process you follow?
Believe it or not, I use my Instagram (@bethostern) and social media. I have a lot of cat followers (laughs) and a 100 percent success rate. I read each and every email that is sent to my foster address, and the ones I think are worthwhile to interview, I explore. Those names are then given to people who work for the NSALA, who decide who among that group should be called. They are given an extensive telephone interview, and then we talk to the vets and get the three references they submit to us who know them as families. By the time we are ready to deliver the cat or kitten, we are sure about their new forever homes, and I personally deliver each animal myself.
Let’s change course a little bit and share with our readers how you entertain in Palm Beach?
We adore our home here, and it’s so conducive for having people over. We have lots of friends in Palm Beach now, and we love having dinner parties. We also have lots of family. I have brothers, nieces and nephews, and they are all here with us during the holidays too. Howard has three daughters, so we enjoy opening our home to them and sharing it.
Do you entertain casually or do you hire a chef? What is your entertaining style?
Casual. Definitely casual. But I don’t want to be in the kitchen the whole time I have guests, so I have a chef come in to help out.
What are your favorite PB restaurants?
Buccan, Bice, Echo, PB Catch Seafood + Raw Bar, PB Grill—those are our regulars, but we love everything in Palm Beach. We go to Flagler Steakhouse too, and you don’t have to eat meat to go there. Their fish and vegetables are great.
What tips do you have for people traveling back and forth to PB this winter with their animals?
I think the most important thing is to make sure your pet’s comfort is No. 1, and, of course, if you are traveling by plane, be sure you have checked with the airline to make sure your pet will be taken care of. I always pack their pet food and their favorite blanket or toy that reminds them of the scent of home. I never leave home without making sure my animals are identified properly in case the unthinkable happens.
Where do you shop in Palm Beach?
It’s every girl’s dream to be able to shop on Worth Avenue, so I do stop there when I’m in town. I love Heidi Klein and Eres Paris for bathing suits, as well as J.Crew, who always have cute bikinis.
PB shopping is epic, and meandering through the vias makes you feel like you’re on a European holiday—and now there are the wonderful new stores at The Royal Poinciana Plaza too.
I know! I would love to spend more time in Palm Beach, and hopefully when and if my husband ever retires, I can be here more—and definitely forever!