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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

LA Event Kicks Off National Foster Care Month

Comedian and RaiseAChild Emcee Alec Mapa

Comedian and RaiseAChild Emcee Alec Mapa

Walden Family Services kicked off National Foster Care Month on May 1 at the RaiseAChild Honors  in Los  Angeles. Comedian and emcee Alec Mapa opened the event with a heartwarming story about his life as an adoptive father before introducing this year’s honorees:

  • Celebrity health and fitness expert Jillian  Michaels and her wife, Heidi Rhoades
  • Adoptive parents Deputy  Sheriff (Ret.) Gina Barker-Foster and Sgt. Dana Michele Foster, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department
  • KTLA5 News Executive Producer Kimberly Cornell

This year’s event theme, “MakeAHome,” highlighted the role adoptive parents in creating a stable, loving environment for foster children who are unable to return to their birth families. Several LA-based  interior designers created stunning room designs, including an office designed by Roxy Sowlaty for Walden.

Other notable guests included actors Jon Cryer and  Lisa Joyner. The couple are also adoptive parents, and Joyner herself was adopted.

Image of Kimberly Cornell

KTLA5 News Executive Producer and honoree Kimberly Cornell

Image of Kermit the Frog

Kermit the Frog at the Historic Jim Henson Company Lot

Picture of adoptive parents Claire Davis and Virginia Banker

Walden champions and adoptive parents Claire Davis and Virginia Banker at RaiseAChild Honors

Image of actor Jon Cryer

Actor Jon Cryer on the red carpet at RaiseAChild Honors

2016 Copper for Kids Check Presentation

“Copper for Kids” Raises $2,500 for Walden Family Services

2016 Copper for Kids Check Presentation.
Pictured L to R: Tracy Threlfall, Bonni Parsons Mitchell, Teresa Stivers, Connie Stevenson and Karl Kirke

Walden Family Services received a generous donation of $2,500 from the Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC) San Diego Chapter, as a result of members’ fundraising efforts through the Copper for Kids program. Copper for Kids recycles excess copper materials and uses the funds to benefit nonprofit organizations that assist foster children and youth in making successful transitions to adulthood.

“We greatly appreciate the PHCC Association of San Diego and their Copper for Kids program, which will benefit children and youth in the foster care system locally,”said Teresa Stivers, CEO of Walden Family Services. “Through this generosity and outreach, children build lifelong relationships with foster and adoptive families, and young people exit foster care prepared for college, career and community life.”

“PHCC contractors are environmentally conscious and most recycle as a standard business practice. They now have an additional realized benefit of supporting children in our community,” said Connie Stevenson, President of the Board of Directors for PHCC Association, San Diego.

Every $5,000 raised provides children and youth with family and caring adults who help them to grow and thrive. “By connecting children with forever families, they can reach their full potential and break the cycle of foster care,” said Stevenson.

According to, San Diego County has nearly 3,500 children in the foster care system. Research shows that children who exit foster care without a family or strong support network are less likely to graduate from high school, and more likely to become pregnant before age 21, incarcerated, or homeless.

Walden, LGBT Families Celebrate Human Rights Campaign Foundation Award

January 14, 2016 – When Mac and Dustin McCurdy decided to start a family, they originally considered surrogacy before realizing they could provide a loving home to a child in foster care. As a same sex couple, they were thrilled to learn that Walden Family Services recently earned the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC) All Children–All Families “Seal of Recognition” for its commitment to providing welcoming, culturally competent services for LGBT kids and families.

“Baby Daddy” Comedian Alec Mapa Talks Foster Adoption at Dec. 2 Event

SAN DIEGO, CA (November 30, 2015)—Father and comedian Alec Mapa will explore the joys and challenges of adopting a 5-year-old boy from foster care during a special performance at The Prado at Balboa Park for individuals and families interested in becoming foster and adoptive parents.

Foster Care, Adoption Agency Earns Live Well San Diego Designation

November 4, 2015 – When former foster youth Lacey Bowman graduated from Grossmont College earlier this year with a liberal arts degree, she became a role model—and a statistic. Bowman is among only 3 percent of former foster youth who graduate from college, and credits the emotional and financial support she received while in foster care with Walden Family Services for preparing her to pursue her education.

$125,000 Raised at Thirty-Nine & D’Vine to support Walden Family Services

October 13, 2015 – Walden Family Services raised $125,000 last week at Thirty-Nine & D’Vine, a fall dinner celebration and fundraiser at Pamplemousse Grille, to fund programs and services that support of foster and adoptive children and the families who love and care for them.

Media Contact

Camille Belcher
Marketing Manager

Walden in the News