Celebrates 90th Anniversary, Honors Supporters, Staff
Some may have believed Foothill Family scheduled its recent 90th anniversary tribute event at The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens solely for its premiere location.
However, in at least one way, they were actually bringing it back home.
“Harriett Huntington Doerr was actually the first president of the board of directors,” said Steve Allen, CEO of Foothill Family. “We looked back into our records and she began serving in 1941. There is a nice connection and it was great to have our event at The Huntington.”
Doerr, the granddaughter of Henry & Arabella Huntington, was a renowned author who published her first novel at the age of 74 and was also a noted philanthropist.
“It was the perfect setting,” Allen continued. “It was an event to thank and acknowledge our supporters from both the past and present.”
Founded in 1926, Foothill Family provides a broad range of community and school-based mental health and social services to at-risk children and families in the San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys as well as many other communities in between. The organization currently provides assistance to 23,000 individuals and families.
Allen, who recently began his 4th year as CEO, isn’t merely a corporate suit charged with raising money – he understands Foothill Family’s goal through first-hand experience.
“I was a probation officer back in England and I would listen to the numerous reports in the courtrooms,” Allen explained. “In the case of the children, the story was often the same. ‘A lack of support in the early ages and a lack of support systems in general.’ It made me wish I could have been there ten years earlier. I wouldn’t have to have been writing those reports.”
Following a 10-year career as a probation officer and then manager of a center for high-risk youth, he moved with his wife, Barbara, and two young sons to Pasadena.
Steve became the director of social services for The Salvation Army’s Southern California division, where he was responsible for a variety of social service programs, and the last 4 of his 16 years there were spent as the executive director of development.
Before signing on at Foothill Family, Allen was the chief development officer for the American Red Cross, Los Angeles region.
“When the opportunity came up here at Foothill, I really wanted to do this job,” Allen said, his voice infused with enthusiasm.
It’s apparent he has returned to his passion.
“A study was done and it shows that every dollar spent on well-designed early childhood intervention, 17 dollars is returned to society on the back end as a result of education, employment and crime prevention. This is an extremely significant statistic and explains our goal at Foothill Family.”
The event was co-sponsored by long-standing Foothill Family partners Cathay Bank and Capital Group.
“We really wanted to offer support to the people who have supported us,” Allen added.
Among those who were saluted for their long service to Foothill Family were Ted and Lori Samuels; Congresswoman Judy Chu; Helen Morran-Wolf, who served 21 years as CEO before retiring; Pat Avery, retired Chief of Clinical Services and a Foothill Family employee for 35 years; and Sheila Thornton, the current Clinical Director at the Oak Knoll Family Center, who has been serving Foothill for 31 years.
“And counting,” Allen said.
“Ted and Lori have been supporters for 20 years,” Allen said. “Lori has been very involved since 1995 and she is the co-founder of the Friends of Foothill Family. This is a fabulous group. They act as ambassadors in the community.”
Lori Samuels is a San Marino businesswoman.
Allen encourages the community to participate in another 90th anniversary celebration, the organization’s first-ever 5K Walk and Festival, which will take place on Sat., Nov. 5.
Walkers will begin their trek at the Oak Knoll facility – “This is where it all started,” Allen exclaimed – and will finish at the new home office at 2500 East Foothill Blvd.
There will be music, bounce houses and face painting in addition to tours of the building and several “themed” rooms that span the decades.
“We have to keep moving forward,” Allen concluded. “The celebration of the 90th anniversary exists to help us meet a multitude of challenges for generations to come. It doesn’t stop here.”
Maybe Doerr herself, said it best, all the way back in 1943.
“It has helped troubled families out of myriad dilemmas, so that instead of merely existing they could really live.”
For more information on the 5K, please go to foothillfamily.org/5k/