Legacy Project: TOGETHER CALIFORNIA: A Village for Brothers & Sisters.
Modeled after SOS Children’s Villages, originating in Austria

October 2022 - Present

October 26, 2022

During the reception of Austria’s National Day celebration at the residence of the Consul General of Austria, President Veronika Reinelt had a wonderful opportunity to speak about and introduce our Legacy Project.  Although the Council was actively soliciting funds
for the Village in Palmdale, California, this was the moment when the public
at large was made aware of our in-depth involvement with this project,
and the Consul General expressed his support for this endeavor. 

Year 2023

Throughout this period the Council was able to amass sufficient funds to be able to specifically support the creation of a Community Center at the Village.  In the meantime, TOGETHER CALIFORNIA raised funds from both private and public sources in the area of $20,000,000 to make the village a reality.  Various permits and permissions were obtained. Plans were drawn and contractors were brought on board.

Year 2024

The Council was notified that we were allowed to proceed with the creation
of the Community Center.  Importantly, it will be known as the
All the generosity of our donors has provided a permanent recognition
of the long-standing relationship between Austria and the United States -
all to the benefit of extremely disadvantaged children.

February 7, 2024

This is the day we have all been waiting for.  On Wednesday at 11:00 AM the Groundbreaking for 12 foster homes and the building of our Community Center took place.  The Center will serve as a vibrant hub for the whole community of Palmdale/Lancaster.  The location is 30thStreet near McAdam Park in Palmdale. 


Wendy, Jim and Jake Abrahams
Austrian American Council West
The Bale Family
Supervisor Kathryn Barger
Leonardo DiCaprio
Eleven Eleven
Engelsstad Foundation
The Esrailian Family
Rudi and Helga Frenner Paul GeorgeGoldman Sachs & Co.
Hearthland Foundation
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
Maestro Cares Foundation
City of Palmdale
Ralph M. Parsons Foundation
Anthony & Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation
Rose Hills Foundation
Patrick & Pia Whitesell

Tim McCormick, the Executive Director of TOGETHER CALIFORNIA:A Village for Brothers and Sistersbegan the ceremony with opening remarks.  He recognized the three major contributors to this project: Christian Bale, Academy Award winning actor; Dr. Eric Esrailian; and the Austrian-American Council West.  The campus will include 12 separate family homes for foster youth.  Each home will house six children including brothers and sisters with a full-time TOGETHER CALIFORNIA foster parent caring for the children.  There will be two studio apartments to provide temporary housing for birth parents or transitional housing for children aging out of foster care.  The Community Center will be the hub of the campus serving the children, their families and the community of Palmdale.  Because of the generous contributions of members and friends of the Council, this Center will be named the Austrian-American Council West Community Center.

Also present at the ceremony were Austin Bishop, mayor of Palmdale and Kathryn Barger, Los Angeles County Supervisor.

Veronika Reinelt, President of AACW

Veronika Reinelt, President of Austrian-American Council West gave a speech in which she said, “We all know that perseverance is doing something when difficulties and challenges arise.  Today we break ground to build homes and a community center as a sign of our collective perseverance to do more”.  Veronika Reinelt recalled how the idea of building a village for children began in 1995 when the Council contacted the President of SOS Children’s Villages USA.  Despite the Council’s best efforts, it was not possible to make this dream a reality at that time.  In 2008 Christian Bale and Dr. Eric Esrailian became interested in foster care and contacted Tim McCormick, then Executive Director of SOS Children’s Villages, Illinois.  Thereafter a formal fund-raising program was established.  The Austrian-American Council West avidly joined in this project and named it our Legacy Project.  As such all funds raised by the Council will be dedicated to the building of the Community Center.  The Deputy Consul General of Austria, Cornelia Malloy, shared a few remarks in support of this endeavor. 

Helga and Rudi Frenner, AACW Sponsors; Cornelia Malloy, Deputy Consul General of Austria; and Veronika Reinelt, President of AACW

 The highlight of the event was the ceremonial groundbreaking.  Veronika Reinelt, Helga and Rudi Frenner representing the Council together with the Deputy Council of Austria, Cornelia Malloy turned the earth with their spades emblazoned with “TOGETHER CALIFORNIA” – the Spatenstich – calling to mind Hermann Gmeiner and the Austrian legacy.

A large delegation of our members and friends turned out for the program
and thereafter joined in the groundbreaking.  

Andrea Forgo; Lee Ladwig; Carol Spanier-Ladwig, Executive Secretary of AACW;
Jan Donsbach, Director of AACW; Lilliana Popov-Alexander, Executive Vice-President of AACW; Rudi Frenner, AACW Sponsor; Dennis Fredricks, Legal Adviser to AACW; Veronika Reinelt, President of AACW; Tim McCormick, Executive Director of Together California; Helga Frenner, AACW Sponsor; and Cornelia Malloy, Deputy Consul General of Austria

Samuel Warner, Advisory Board Member of AACW; Nicolai M. Schwarz-Gondek, Attorney; Lilliana Popov-Alexander, Executive Vice-President of AACW; Reverend Kevin Rettig; Helga and Rudi Frenner, AACW Sponsors; Cornelia Malloy, Deputy Consul General of Austria; Lee Ladwig; Carol Spanier-Ladwig, Executive Secretary of AACW; Veronika Reinelt, President of AACW; Christian Bale, Oscar Academy Award actor, and Dr. Volker R. Ammann, Austrian Trade Commissioner to the United States in Los Angeles 

We are grateful for all the contributions for this major first step. 
All your memberships and donations have made this day a reality. 
We hope that you will continue by our side until we open the doors of the
AACW Community Center TOGETHER CALIFORNIA: A Village for Brothers and Sisters.  
Without question, AACW also continues to support other worthy causes who have depended on us for so many years..  With your help we can continue to do so.



Here is how to participate in the Austrian-American Council West Fund Drive towards establishing a Community Center at Together California:
A Village for Brothers and Sisters in Palmdale, CA.

Kindly send a check payable to:
Austrian-American Council West
Memo: “Community Center/Together California”

 To the following address:

Austrian-American Council West
2701 Forrester Drive
Los Angeles, CA  90064-3402

 or donate online here :

All donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent permitted by law. 
Tax ID #95-41 68 292   IRS Code §501(c)(3)

All donors will be gratefully acknowledged.