Mission Statement

The Well in the Desert is a 501c3 non-profit organization that provides daily nutritious hot meals, emergency food assistance, weekly supplemental food distribution and a wide array of services through  advocacy to those affected by poverty, including the working poor, the homeless, seniors, the handicapped and others in need throughout the western end of the Coachella Valley. Our mission fuels programs for poverty prevention, direct services for poverty intervention, and an organized effort to advocate for the poor.

Arlene Rosenthal - President

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA and got a B.A. in Spanish at U.C.L.A. After graduating in 1966 I worked for the Probation Department as a counselor and then as a bilingual teacher in the L.A. District. The lure of Berkeley and all the social change happening there was too great so I picked up and left L.A. for life in the Bay Area. I spent several years there teaching school and enjoying all the political ferver, the S.F. Opera House, the Symphony, theater, and all the natural outdoors where one could hike and commune with nature. I came to the desert in 1973, worked as a bilingual teacher until starting my own custom-clothing business. My spirit of community stuck and I found myself involved in social change and working in organizations where I could help to bring that about for those who were unable to advocate for themselves. It was as a child that my parents taught me the value of community action and interaction and the idea that we had an obligation to help make things better in the world in which we lived. After years of serving on many boards and raising much money I was asked to sit on the Board of the Well in the Desert. I later became its President and serve with much pleasure. I am also proud to serve as President of OperaArts, an organization created to provide quality cultural events to the public for free or for affordable prices.

Darci Daniels-Murphy - Vice President

Darci decided nearly three years ago to search for a “home grown charity” that was above board and served our community, somewhere that she could align her popular Desert Jam Session while working for the betterment of those who are less fortunate. And when she eventually discovered The Well and President Arlene Rosenthal, she knew she had found what she was looking for. A well-known and very sought after entertainer who has her own star on Palm Springs Walk of Fame, Darci also serves as a real estate investor in addition to serving on boards for the American Legion, Red Hot Ballroom Dancers, numerous after school programs and Iron Horse Marines. She grew up in Palm Springs and for fun loves to spend time with her family, play music, write shows and read. She says her favorite aspect of living in Palm Springs is the “sense of community on so many levels”. Three words that her friends have used to describe this talented lady are kind, funny and compassionate. As for the future of The Well, she looks forward to The Well occupying its new home, knowing that this will allow for a special place for growth.

Cardriner Bowden - Director

Cardriner hails from North Carolina. She received her B. S. degree from North Carolina A & T State University in Greensboro, NC, which is the home of the sit in demonstrations at the Woolworth counter.  She spent eleven days in jail while in attendance for trying to integrate a movie theatre.

She taught for six years in the Prince George’s County Maryland school system before moving to Inglewood, CA.  For the next 35 1/2 years, she was employed by the LA Unified School District as a teacher and in various administrative positions.  Her M. Ed. degree was received at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

She has been volunteering practically all her life.  “I believe in helping people and trying to help them better their lives and make a positive difference.”   While in Los Angeles, she served as treasurer and president of the Los Angeles Urban League Urbanites which was a financial support of the LA Urban League and held other positions in various other organizations.

She retired in 2007 and moved to the Desert.  Since arriving, she has volunteered at Eisenhower Medical Center, served as treasurer of Democratic Women of the Desert, currently volunteers as an usher at the McCallum Theatre, serves as an education ambassador for the Muses and Patroness Circle, the current women’s fellowship leader of her church, drives for Neighbor 4 Neighbor, is the current vice chair of the Public Safety Committee for her community, was honored in 2012 as volunteer of the year by Democratic Women of the Desert, and participates in many other organizations.

She was very elated when she was asked to join the Well in the Desert Board of Directors.  “I am honored that they felt I had something worthwhile to add to this organization which does so much good for so many people.”

In her spare time, of which she has very little, she loves listening to jazz and soul music, attending concerts, reading, dining at fine restaurants, traveling, and of course volunteering.

Mary McAndrew - Treasurer
Dennis Jory - Secretary

A retired high school and university educator of 38 years, Dennis Jory now teaches art locally at the Mizell Senior Center and the LGBT Community Center. A long-time champion for the underdog, Dennis has helped oversee the Nesteggg Food Bank for the LGBT Center for the past 3½ years. He also served as secretary on The Center’s Executive Board for seven years.

In addition, he was named California Teacher of the Year in 1993, representing California’s 350,000 educators. He also was selected as one of President George Bush’s Thousand Points of Light for his work with disadvantaged youth and was recognized as one of the country’s top educators in 1994. He was elected to serve as President of the Artists Council at the Palm Springs Art Museum and was a member of the Museum’s Board of Trustees for three years. Having served on the founding board of the Palm Springs Frontrunners, he presently consults for the California Department of Education in their state awards unit and serves on their Executive Board of Directors.

Dennis is a practicing artist who has shown his award-winning art and photographs in museums and galleries throughout California. He graduated with a BA and a double major in art and English from the University of Idaho and received his Master’s Degree in gifted education from Cal Poly University at San Luis Obispo.
A world traveler, whose teaching assignments range from kindergarten to graduate school to a maximum-security ward of a federal penitentiary, he has served as a judge for art and writing competitions for numerous school districts as well as for the Palm Springs Art Museum, the Indian Wells Art Festival and the Tolerance Education Center.

Dennis has two adult children, both educators, and four grand children. He has been a valley resident for 33 years, currently resides in Rancho Mirage and is honored to be named to the Well in the Desert Board of Directors.

Dennis has two adult children, both educators, and four grand children. He has been a valley resident for 33 years, currently resides in Rancho Mirage and is honored to be named to the Well in the Desert Board of Directors.

A world traveler, whose teaching assignments range from kindergarten to graduate school to a maximum-security ward of a federal penitentiary, he has served as a judge for art and writing competitions for numerous school districts as well as for the Palm Springs Art Museum, the Indian Wells Art Festival and the Tolerance Education Center.

Dennis is a practicing artist who has shown his award-winning art and photographs in museums and galleries throughout California. He graduated with a BA and a double major in art and English from the University of Idaho and received his Master’s Degree in gifted education from Cal Poly University at San Luis Obispo.
In addition, he was named California Teacher of the Year in 1993, representing California’s 350,000 educators. He also was selected as one of President George Bush’s Thousand Points of Light for his work with disadvantaged youth and was recognized as one of the country’s top educators in 1994. He was elected to serve as President of the Artists Council at the Palm Springs Art Museum and was a member of the Museum’s Board of Trustees for three years. Having served on the founding board of the Palm Springs Frontrunners, he presently consults for the California Department of Education in their state awards unit and serves on their Executive Board of Directors.

A retired high school and university educator of 38 years, Dennis Jory now teaches art locally at the Mizell Senior Center and the LGBT Community Center. A long-time champion for the underdog, Dennis has helped oversee the Nesteggg Food Bank for the LGBT Center for the past 3½ years. He also served as secretary on The Center’s Executive Board for seven years.

Terrie Andrade - Board Member
Damir Danny Donlagic - Board Member

I was born in Bosnia in 1985 and grew up during the Balkan war. I moved with my parents to the United States in 1993 at the age of eight as a refugee from the war. I will never forget the humanitarian help my family and I received the first few months and am honored to have the opportunity to assist in giving the same kind of help back to others in need. I graduated from College of the Desert with an A.A. in Philosophy and transferred to CSU San Bernardino, where I received a B.A. in Multi-Disciplinary Social Science. Going through a social science program in college has given me priceless knowledge and respect for other cultures, races, and situations as well as an unbiased and more collected approach to examining social issues. I have also been helping my family operate our cafe/restaurant Cafe Jasmin, which has been open in downtown Palm Springs since 1995. I am very honored to be able to serve as a board member and truly strive to bring many good ideas to the table as well as assist our needy community as best as I can.

Steed McCotter - Board Member

Steed McCotter grew up in Raleigh, NC. He received a BA degree in Philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1994 and worked at UNC Hospitals throughout his undergraduate career. In 1996, he relocated to Los Angeles, CA and worked for AIDS Project Los Angeles in the Education Department helping design and obtain funding for HIV prevention programs for underserved communities. In 2002, he moved to Palm Springs and switched gears to work in the design industry until the economic downturn. In 2009, Steed returned to his passion for service to others by joining the staff of Desert Regional Medical Center where he currently manages Patient Relations, Volunteer Services and Spiritual Support Services. In his hospital role, he works closely with patients and their families to address their concerns and improve the hospital experience for our community. He is delighted to join the Well in its efforts.

Matt Naylor - Board Member
Jessica Spry - Board Member

Working in homelessness services were the best career years of my life and after taking a 15 year break to raise my children I now find myself in a position where I have some time to give and there’s not place I’d rather be.

Prior to working for UCSF I spent many years working in homelessness services in San Francisco. I was a Case Manager for a homelessness prevention program for the American Red Cross, the Program Director for Information and Emergency Services at Catholic Charities and then moved to the Department of Human Services as a Contract Manager for the homelessness program. I spent the next couple of years in the Peace Corps and then my last job before moving to UCSF was in development for a pre school for homeless children.

I moved to the Coachella Valley from the San Francisco Bay Area with my family in the summer of 2014. After spending 15 years doing research at the University of California, San Francisco I went into real estate with my husband and we are now the proud owners of 4 homes in the valley that operate as short term vacation rentals.

Joan Wolff - Board Member

My name is Joan Wolff, born in Los Angeles, California. Grew up in Beverly Hills and graduated from Beverly Hills High. Attended UCLA. Married a New Yorker and have two children, divorced, and have been with my partner, Ernie for 36 years. I have been on numerous boards over the 33 years living in Palm Springs. To name a few…President of Tiempo de Los Ninos. Started a hospice at Desert Hospital (with 3 others), on the auxiliary board of Desert Regional M.C. Vice President of the police advisory board, a long standing board member of the Foundation of the retarded (ARC), Stroke Center Auxiliary Board, started the Make a Wish Foundation in the valley. Still Volunteer at DRMC… and chair the Dinah Shore Family Waiting Room. Went to school at 40, and became an emergency room nurse. Also worked and ran all of the tennis tournaments for Sonny Bono…and a staff member for the Easter Bowl Tennis Tournament for juniors. …Worked with Doug Brown in PS and fund raising. very proud to be a board member of “The Well in the Desert”.

Leo Daniel Milmet - Student Ambassador Coordinator

Leo was born in Detroit, Michigan on January 28, 2003 to Morris and Sarah Milmet. His father died when he was ten months old. At two years of age, Leo moved to West Bloomfield, Michigan and attended Echo Park and Stepping Stone For Gifted Education. Leo’s hobbies are swimming, composing plays, books, movies and travel. He has been to London, England, Amsterdam, Netherlands, Niagara Falls, Canada (and San Diego, California for a personal invitation to attend the Captains ceremony on the USS Ronald Reagan). Leo never buys a present for himself, only souvenirs for his friends and family. He donates regularly to orphans and people in need. Leo now attends the Jewish Community School of the Desert. He just recently won first place in the all school spelling bee.
On Leo’s birthday, he raises money for the Jewish Community School of the Desert and Well In The Desert. Leo’s motto in life is always to help others first.

Advisory Board
Charlie Paglia – Lloyd Brushett – Gayle Hodges – Janet Curto – Jim Fox – Stuart Lynn – Joseph A Roman Esq. – Dr. Gregory Wagoner M.D. – Phillip Moore
Wayne R. McKinny MD (Founder and Past President)





Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Please call (760) 656-8905 for the schedule of our daily hot food program.