The Cal-Learn Program of Walden Family Services

A retired US Navy officer and warship commander, Captain David Schnell now maintains responsibilities as the vice president of operations for the Electronic Tolling Collection division of Xerox’s Americas Commercial and State Government Transportation Group (ACGST). Captain David Schnell balances his professional responsibilities with his dedication to a number of charitable organizations, including his role as a board member of Walden Family Services.

While it focuses primarily on foster care placement and adoption services, Walden also offers various programs for teens and emancipated foster youth, such as the Cal-Learn Program. A statewide program, Cal-Learn works with pregnant and parenting teens in an effort to help them complete their high school education, become independent, and raise a healthy family.

When teens join Cal-Learn, they are connected with a Walden case manager, who is responsible for helping them establish goals and secure the resources necessary to earn a GED or graduate from high school. The case managers also provide comprehensive support services as they work with teen parents and their families to overcome everyday challenges. By meeting with a case manager and completing life tasks, Cal-Learn participants earn “Parenting Bucks” that they can use to purchase important parenting items at Walden’s Teen Store.


USS Peleliu Played Key Role in Military and Humanitarian Efforts

Captain David Schnell is executive director of a San Diego-based service organization, Christ Kitchen. Prior to this role, Captain David Schnell gained significant leadership expertise as commander of the USS Peleliu, a US Navy warship. He was responsible for all day-to-day operations for the amphibious aircraft carrier, which was decommissioned in 2015.

Commissioned in 1980, the USS Peleliu traveled approximately 1 million nautical miles during its 35-year career. Approximately 58,000 sailors and Marines served aboard the USS Peleliu. Throughout its history, the ship had a part in many significant events, including carrying American troops to Afghanistan in 2001. In addition, the ship supported an evacuation after Mt. Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines and provided assistance after massive floods struck Pakistan in 2010.

The ship, which takes its name from the World War II Battle of Peleliu, will reside in inactive reserve at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. At the USS Peleliu’s decommissioning ceremony, veterans and service members who served on the ship paid homage to its history.

USS Peleliu and Other Amphibious Warships

Captain David Schnell is an honorably retired veteran who served in the US Navy for 27 years. A decorated officer, Captain David Schnell received a Defense Meritorious Service Medal, a Joint Service Commendation Medal, and a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for his service. While in the Navy, David Schnell commanded the USS Peleliu, an amphibious warship.

The USS Peleliu, or LHA 5, is an assault ship that maintains national defense by quickly deploying US ground forces in remote locations. Amphibious warships are able to sail while under attack, and they provide the rapid buildup of forces on shores to combat opposition.

In addition to wartime activity, amphibious warships are used in disaster relief and humanitarian efforts. After Hurricane Katrina, a ship carrying thousands of police officers, firefighters, and rescue troops provided relief to New Orleans. Furthermore, amphibious warships provided support in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami in 2004.

The USS Peleliu is scheduled for decommissioning on March 31, 2015, making way for a new class of amphibious assault ships.

Walden Family Services Serves Southern California Youth

After a career in the US Navy that spanned more than 25 years, Captain David Schnell currently serves as vice president of operations for the Electronic Tolling Division of Xerox Corporation. During his distinguished career, he commanded several warships, including the amphibious aircraft carrier USS Peleliu and the guided missile frigate USS Ford. In addition to his professional responsibilities at Xerox, Captain David Schnell volunteers his time to the Christ Kitchen in San Diego, where he is executive director, and to Walden Family Services, where he serves on the foundation board.

Walden Family Services began in 1976 as a private, not-for-profit corporation to care for neglected and abused children in group residential facilities. Seven years later, it transitioned into foster care, and it expanded again in 1994 to open its doors to young people with developmental disabilities.

During the 21st century, Walden Family Services has expanded its services and broadened its appeal, serving foster youth both before and after emancipation, as well as those with special health care needs. It established a program for pregnant teens and those who are themselves parents. It also developed an education program with the objective to advocate for and safely place foster youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ).

Walden secured an adoption license in late 2008, which enabled it to serve as a comprehensive adoption agency from family assessment through post-adoption support. Walden today serves more than 250 youth daily in more than 180 foster homes throughout Southern California.