Valerie Sobel is founder and president of the Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation that bears the name of her beloved teenage son who died of an inoperable brain tumor. She believes that the life she now has was born with the death of her son.
Her prior careers are eclipsed by the passion and the power of the current work of the Foundation. The mission of ASRLF is to help those single caregivers that are experiencing the devastation of the life-threatening disease of their child and are without the emotional and financial privileges that she had during Andre’s illness. Through compassion for those whose plight is so crushing, she created a way to help this underserved population that is virtually invisible to the community.
Social workers from the five major Southern California pediatric institutions affiliated with ASRL identify the families in need, and when all other resources have been exhausted or unavailable, they receive assistance within 24 hours. Since its inception 4 years ago, over a million dollars in direct assistance has been provided to buy groceries, assist with transportation, pay rent, and keep utilities turned on, and often to allow parents to bury their child with dignity.
The Foundation is currently implementing a national partnership initiative to bring its program to several East Coast Hospitals, and is exploring the public policy arena for greater funding. At present Valerie is collaborating on a book with Harvard pediatrician Elizabeth Rider M.D., titled Caring for the Caregiver: a Formula for Survival.
Valerie is member of the Academy of Motion picture Arts and Sciences, The American Society of Interior Designers (keepsakes from prior careers). She is a trained Court Appointed Special Advocate (guardian ad litem), a Charter member of Women of Washington/Los Angeles, Women’s leadership Council L.A., the Music Center’s Blue Ribbon, founding member of the Donor Circle at the Women’s Foundation of California, and Council of Women World Leaders.
Valerie’s daughter, Simone, is studying at Lynn University. When Valerie is not traveling, she shares her time between Los Angeles and Idyllwild.