Meet George Folk

Founder, Action Alliance Foundation


Each of us has an opportunity to leave a legacy – an opportunity to live for a purpose that’s bigger than ourselves. George Folk, Founder of both Action Alliance Foundation and its for-profit partner, Action Alliance Services, has done just that.

A native of Pennsylvania, George started drinking at the age of 15. It became a daily habit, except for his four years in the Navy. During those years, he didn’t drink at sea, but made up for it every 30 days or so, when his ship was in port.

Following his honorable discharge from the Navy, George began working in construction, eventually becoming a construction supervisor. Unfortunately, his drinking also increased during this time. In 1989, he achieved a period of sobriety, but began drinking again in 1991, resulting in DUIs and a near-death motorcycle accident.

In 1995, a judge gave George a choice – prison or moving to a recovery residence. He chose the recovery residence.

George also got a major wake-up call when he was ordered to attend a Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Victim Impact Panel as part of his sentence. One of the panel’s speakers was a woman whose husband had recently been killed by a drunk driver. Ironically, the woman’s husband had been convicted of drunk driving years before, when he killed two children on bicycles. Attending the impact panel, working the AA program and residing at a recovery residence each made a major impact on George’s pursuit of sobriety, which is now 28 years strong.

The role a well-run recovery residence can make on saving and changing someone’s life was clear to George from the start. After achieving a period of sobriety, he started working for the company that owned his initial recovery residence, including roles as house manager and general manager. Seven years after moving into his initial recovery residence, George acquired six homes and formed a new entity: Action Alliance Services (AAS). He grew the business from six to 18 homes in just six months. Simultaneously, he served as President of the Board of Directors for Woodglen Recovery Junction, the most successful non-profit treatment center in Orange County, for 17 years.

“There are so many stories of people whose lives have been both saved and changed because of Action Alliance. One particularly memorable one is a resident who was homeless for 30 years, living under a bridge. He was dying. We were able to get him into detox, move him into one of our homes, and he’s now seven years sober,” says George. Over the years, AAS realized that there is a segment of the homeless substance abuse community that is not immediately employable and has no other source of income. As a result, these individuals have been unable to qualify for a bed at an AAS house. Action Alliance Foundation (AAF) was established in 2021 in response to this problem. “As a non-profit, AAF raises charitable funds to help sponsor homeless alcoholics and addicts who need time to heal and become employable,” explains George.

Away from Action Alliance, George enjoys spending time with his family (his wife, two daughters and five grandchildren), and is also an avid golfer. “Running Action Alliance helps in my own sobriety journey,” says George. “You’ve got to give it away to keep it.” He continues to work the AA program, and is even the long-time sponsor of one of AAF’s board members.

“I get so much satisfaction out of my work with Action Alliance,” concludes George. “God told me to do this, and I said ok!”
-George Folk, Founder

Meet Rick Williams

Board Member, Action Alliance Foundation


When Rick Williams was asked to serve on the Board of Directors for Action Alliance Foundation, he quickly said yes. “I’ve referred many people to Action Alliance over the years,” he explained. “I like seeing miracles and love hearing everyone’s stories - what they’ve overcome, what they’re doing now – it’s very impactful. It’s exciting to see people embrace the power of recovery.”
Rick had his first taste of alcohol at age 11, discovering marijuana just a few years later. He started ditching school and was kicked out of two traditional high schools, eventually graduating from an alternative high school. He was also in and out of Juvenile Hall, doing “dumb stuff.”

It was during one of these stints in Juvenile Hall that Rick met his first wife, with whom he has three children. Together for 15 years, Rick worked steadily during this time, but would typically lose his job when he failed a drug or alcohol test.

Including his time in Juvenile Hall, Rick spent about five years in jail or prison for a variety of offenses. After one of his releases, he discovered his wife and children had moved to Utah – and he had no way of finding them.

Rick met his current wife Ellen shortly after. As a couple, however, they slipped into an 11-year period of chaos fueled by mutual substance abuse. It was during his last stint in jail, in 1999, when everything turned around.

Rick had his wake-up call on August 10, 1999, and has been sober ever since. “I had a moment of clarity that day that I’d never had before,” he explains. “And, it was also my oldest daughter’s birthday.”

Picked up from jail in the wee hours of the morning, Rick completed his initial phase of recovery at Cooper Fellowship, learning to take things one day at a time. He soon learned that Ellen was also in recovery – her sobriety date is 30 days after his own. Ellen and he reconnected, but at the behest of their respective sponsors – and AA guidelines – they did not date again for a full year.

Rick began working again, initially as a fork lift operator for a computer company in Irvine (ironically, it was a company he had tried to steal computers from just a few months earlier – it turns out the company owner was aware of this but had a heart for those in recovery). Six months later, Rick became a cook at Woodglen Recovery Junction, eventually becoming a counselor there. He reconnected with George Folk – then serving as board chair for Woodglen – during this time as well (he’d initially met George when both were serving time in jail).

After five years at Woodglen, Rick was recruited to work at Cooper Fellowship, a recovery program in Santa Ana. He’s worked at Cooper for 18 years, is a Certified Addiction Specialist, and currently serves as a senior staff member.

Ellen and Rick married in 2005 (he proposed to her in a hot air balloon flying above the City of Fullerton, and they celebrated their union with a big wedding). They have five children and six grandchildren between them. After losing touch with his own kids for about eight years, Rick is now in touch on a regular basis, and was even able to walk his oldest daughter down the aisle at her wedding a few years ago. Ellen and Rick enjoy going to the movies, taking road trips (including trips to see the grandkids in Utah), and have reconnected with Ellen’s family as well. “I’m even considered the favorite son-in-law now!” Rick exclaims.

Over the years, Rick has touched many lives through his work at Woodglen, Cooper Fellowship, and participation in AA. He and Ellen also co-managed an Action Alliance house for several years. “I’ve learned to mourn, to love, to be compassionate and to be accountable,” says Rick. “And, I’ve learned to walk through life with dignity.”

Meet Carlos Isais

Board Member, Action Alliance Foundation


AAF Board Member Carlos Isaias is all about kindness. In fact, it’s a major reason he agreed to serve on Action Alliance Foundation’s Board of Directors. “AAF’s business model IS kindness,” explains Carlos. “I’m a big proponent for sober living, and am excited and honored to be involved with an organization that provides this opportunity to homeless addicts and alcoholics, regardless of their ability to pay.”

Carlos, who has been sober since 2000, began drinking at the tender age of 9, sneaking mini-cans of Coors during a party he attended with his parents. He hid the evidence, and couldn’t wait to do it again.

Growing up in Fullerton and Placentia, Carlos was very involved with music, playing synthesizer in a band with high school classmates. He continued to drink throughout his youth but was able to get by. At the age of 21, however, he burned a lot of bridges, and realized his drinking was the basis for his problems.

After completing a 30-day stint in rehab at the age of 22 and beginning to participate in Alcoholics Anonymous, Carlos did well for the next 10 years. He excelled professionally, primarily as a recording engineer on feature films. He learned on the job and worked on more than 200 feature films, including Academy Award nominated Gods and Monsters with Ian McKellen and Brendan Fraser. In fact, you can even look Carlos up on IMDb!

“Unfortunately, work became my drug of choice during this time, and I often worked 90 hour weeks,” says Carlos. He stopped going to AA meetings, and started second-guessing if he really had a problem. He started drinking again, and within a short time, it’s as if he’d never stopped.

Soon, Carlos was fired for being difficult to work with, was unwelcome at his home, and started using cocaine. He was able to move back to his parents’ home and did achieve a brief period of sobriety, but relapsed again.

In 2000, Carlos realized he needed to change – NOW. He went to detox, and during his time there, he overheard someone reading aloud from AA’s Big Book. It was a passage that resonates with him to this day:

The less people tolerated us, the more we withdrew from society, from life itself. As we became subjects of King Alcohol, shivering denizens of his mad realm, the chilling vapor that is loneliness thickened ever becoming blacker.

After his discharge from detox, Carlos recommitted to attending AA meetings, and connected with his sponsor – none other than George Folk, President and Founder of Action Alliance Foundation, who remains his sponsor to this day. Carlos started volunteering to manage the coffee bar at the AA meeting location he attended, and also helped mentor other people in recovery.

Within two years, George referred Carlos for a position at Woodglen Recovery Junction. In the years since, he’s held a number of positions at Woodglen, including his current position as Detox Supervisor. He is also a Certified Addiction Specialist and became a house manager for Action Alliance in 2023.

Today, Carlos is still involved with music (he occasionally plays keyboards for a friend who owns a recording studio), enjoys being outdoors at National Parks like Death Valley and Joshua Tree, and is close to his sister and brother (his parents have both passed away). He’s also reconnected with old friends, including some from his high school days.

“AA’s 11th step is all about spirituality,” notes Carlos. “My faith has grown exponentially in recent years, particularly since becoming a house manager for Action Alliance. I have more opportunities to help more people through their recovery journeys than most – and it’s a role I treasure.”

Board of Directors

  • George Folk, President. George is the owner of Action Alliance Services and has been sober for more than 27 years. 
  • Shawn Sterhardt, Secretary.  Shawn is the General Manager at Action Alliance and is three years sober.  
  • Jessica Otero, Treasurer. Jessica is the CFO for Action Alliance Services and has been working in the sober living world for more than eight years.
  • Carlos Isais. Carlos is 22 years sober and works at Woodglen Recovery.
  • Dave Padapuf. Now retired, Dave previously owned a street sweeping company and has more than 36 years of sobriety.
  • Herman Soto. Herman works for Express Marketing Group and is eight years sober. 
  • Debbie Standingwater. Debbie obtained her bachelors and masters degree after achieving sobriety 25 years ago. She is 100% Native American and works for the County of Orange. 
  • Rick Williams. Rick is 23 years sober and works for Cooper Fellowship. 

Board of directors