Valerie Sobel

Founder and President
The Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation
Purpose Prize Fellow 2009

Sobel’s foundation helps single parents with urgent expenses — such as food and utilities — within 24 hours, so the caregivers can stay at their children’s bedsides during catastrophic illness.

Since 2000, Sobel has worked to make known the quiet suffering of single caregivers through the Andre Sobel River of Life Foundation, or ASRL, which bears the name of her son. After losing Andre in his teens to an inoperable brain tumor, Sobel reflected on her life and asked herself: “What is my expertise? What is it that I know?” The answer was immediate. “I know what it means to be the parent of a sick and dying child,” she remembers thinking. Compelled to relieve single caregivers of financial burdens so they can remain at the bedsides of their severely ill children, Sobel formed ASRL to provide urgent financial support – within 24 hours – to those in need. By working closely with social workers at 12 pediatric hospitals that match funding for the program, ASRL identifies needy parents; provides an easy online application for the social workers to fill out for the parents; and gives financial relief to cover utilities, rent, food, day care, and other expenses, depending on specific needs. ASRL has assisted more than 9,800 family members (2,600 families) in the last nine years, totaling over $3.7 million.