Tribute to Noreen and Andy Sandel, Walden Legacy Circle Members

Ten years ago, Noreen and Andy Sandel chose a legacy that benefits children and families across Southern California. The Sandels were a generous, unassuming pair who loved their community and always looked to help those less fortunate, especially children.

When Noreen passed in late August, preceded by her husband in 2011, the Sandel’s charitable trust made a gift to Walden that honored them as well as future generations of foster children.

Walden Family Services is one of 12 charitable beneficiaries that will benefit from a charitable trust established by Andy and Noreen Sandel in 2009.

A life of travel

Andy Sandel was an Army engineer from 1945 – 1947, stationed at Fort Randal in Alaska. Andy and Noreen married in 1953, and Andy enrolled at the University of Alaska. He later transferred to the University of Idaho. In 1963, Andy joined Bechtel Industries and retired with them after over 28 years. His career took him and Noreen to many locations and they enjoyed life adventures in Vancouver, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Idaho, Washington, Ohio, Chicago, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Florida, Maryland, San Francisco, Houston, Bakersfield, and California. They loved animals, especially rescue pets. Shotzie, a purebred shepherd was part of the family for 14 years.

After retirement, the Sandels moved to Atascadero, CA where they built a home with a 180 degree view of Long Valley. They lived there for 13 years before moving to Rancho Bernardo.

Build your own legacy

You can make a planned gift, too. As a member of Walden’s Legacy Circle, you invest your resources in creating a sustainable source of funding to fulfill your vision.

Your planned gift guarantees that Walden will continue to provide innovative and effective foster care, adoption and youth programs that respond to the needs of the community.

You can build your own legacy at

Meet Our Heroes: Mary Alice and Ron Brady

For more than a decade, Mary Alice and Ron Brady have ensured that Walden children who need a loving, nurturing, and safe home to live in are able to have just that.

The Bradys’ partnership and financial support have directly impacted Walden’s foster care placement, foster parent recruitment and training, adoption services, transitional housing programs for older foster youth, education and employment support, mental health services, new parent training, and family visitation services.

Their civic and charitable leadership extends far beyond Walden, reaching at least 300,000 individuals and families in San Diego every year. Through philanthropy and service to Vista Hill, Grossmont Hospital, Rady Children’s Hospital, East County YMCA, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of East County, the Bradys have ensured that vulnerable and at-risk children have access to programs and services that positively change their lives.

To honor Mary Alice and her desire to help children in foster care, Ron established the Gr’mere’s I’mpossible Journey Fund. The endowment provides resources needed to ensure foster parents have furnishings and other requirements for a child to be placed with them. Their support enables Walden to give every child in a safe and nurturing home, meaning we never have to deny a child in our care the safety and love they deserve.

The Bradys’ believe their success is meant to be shared by giving to causes that make a real difference in the lives of those served.

You can make a 100% tax-deductible gift this holiday season that gives a child hope. Learn how your donation makes an impact and give today.

Spring Soiree Raises Over $25,000 for Foster Youth

San Diego, CA (May 23, 2016) –  In celebration of Foster Care Month, Walden Family Services hosted its Spring Soirée May 19 at Pamplemousse Grille. The event raised over $25,000 to fund programs that prevent child neglect and abuse, match kids with loving foster and adoptive families, and prepare young people to become productive members of the community.

Spring Soirée Presenting Sponsors Jo Hannah and Karen Hoehn of Hoehn Jaguar Land Rover of Carlsbad

Spring Soirée Presenting Sponsors Jo Hannah and Karen Hoehn of Hoehn Jaguar Land Rover of Carlsbad

Thirty guests attended the intimate dinner, which featured an elegant four-course dinner with wine pairings by award-winning executive chef Jeffrey Strauss. Notable guests included Ron and Mary Alice Brady, Caroline and Nico Nierenberg, and presenting sponsors Karen and Jo Hannah Hoehn of Hoehn Jaguar Land Rover of Carlsbad.

Rajah Gainey, a former foster youth and Walden board member, shared his story about entering foster care at two weeks old, then re-entering foster care at age 7 after his adoptive mother suffered a stroke.

“I came to Walden I was 10 years old, and right away I knew the place was different,” said Gainey.  “When you’re in foster care, they document every negative thing you do, and people think they know you based on your file. At Walden, they knew what was in my file but they didn’t lead with that. People were more inviting, social workers visited me, and my foster family was great.” Gainey credits Walden for seeing his potential, helping him recover from the trauma of broken relationships, and connecting him with a mentor who he maintains a relationship with to this day.

Rajah Gainey and Pamplemousse Grille Executive Chef Jeffrey Strauss check out the Land Rover

Rajah Gainey and Pamplemousse Grille Executive Chef Jeffrey Strauss check out the Land Rover

“We’re incredibly proud of Rajah, and grateful that he continues to be an advocate for foster youth who need extra support to develop the skills and relationships we all depend on to lead successful, fulfilling lives,” said Teresa Stivers, CEO of Walden Family Services. “We are also grateful to the philanthropists and champions who attended Spring Soirée so that more foster youth have the opportunity to achieve their dreams.”

About Walden Family Services
Walden Family Services provides prevention, foster care and adoption services for children and families throughout Southern California. Walden connects children—infants, sibling groups and children with special needs—with loving foster and adoptive families. We also provide transitional housing and services for youth who choose to remain in foster care to pursue their education or employment, and provide birth families with training to develop nurturing parent-child relationships and break the cycle of neglect and abuse. Founded in 1976, Walden Family Services is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in San Diego. For more information, visit

Jeffrey Strauss(c) poses with Kathryn Stephens (l) and Walden Governance board chair Arlene Lieberman (r) wearing his "Real Housewives" apron

Jeffrey Strauss(c) poses with Kathryn Stephens (l) and Walden Governance board chair Arlene Lieberman (r) wearing his “Real Housewives” apron

Ron and Mary Alice Brady

Ron and Mary Alice Brady