St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center celebrates 50 years of service

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Since 1966, St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center has provided services for adults with developmental disabilities with its wide range of programs that help provide them with the skills they need to live a better quality of life. And to celebrate it held an intimate gathering at St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center’s gardens and reach monetary goals to keep providing these services with new facilities and fix up the older existing structures and programs.

Since 1966, St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center has provided services for adults with developmental disabilities with its wide range of programs that help provide them with the skills they need to live a better quality of life. And to celebrate it held an intimate gathering at St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center’s gardens and reach monetary goals to keep providing these services with new facilities and fix up the older existing structures and programs.

Established in 1966 for children with developmental disabilities. In 1973, began serving adults with more than 400 clients every day. It’s a long list of programs.

Debra Emerson, CEO St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center, said state funding has remained the same since 2002, meaning in reality that funding has not increased at all in 14 years. “But our staff and our administration have continued with the high quality programs to ensure its mission.”

That mission is very simple in nature, but high in cost. “Through empowerment for life, through innovation and education, that is in all of our minds daily.” And STMSC is now providing its long list of services to more than 400 clients daily.

Emerson was thankful for all of the support that STMSC has received since its conception and said she is proud to be part of such a great organization. She said all day long, all she could think about was, “It’s our birthday and it’s been 50 years.”

STMSC began its humble beginnings with 12 students and one building. It now has six-acres and with vision and a lot of support from the community, additional buildings were built. Emerson took over in 1997 with about 130 students.

“This is the best thing that ever happened to me,” she said. “We have so many great programs, but not just that, I have so many great staff. This is not a one-person job. I’m excited to be working on the facilities and our Capital Campaign this year. We are still in the throes of raising money. It’s for a new aquatic locker room, a new dedicated senior building at the top of the garden. There are more seniors now, people with disabilities are living longer and they need their own space. Solar energy is something that will help us on the bottom line, because we haven’t had a raise from the State. We’ve raised over $1.6 million through our campaign, but our campaign goal is about $4.45 million.”

El Cajon Councilmember Tony Ambrose delivered a Proclamation from the City of El Cajon signed by Mayor Bill Wells and the entire City Council. He gave a long list of accomplishments that STMSC has provided over the years for the community, but praised them for its active role in El Cajon in hosting stapled events such as Tea by the Sea, Morning Glory Brunch, and Haute with Heart Fashion Show, Hauntfest and its annual golf tournament. He said the event, not only celebrated the 50 years of service that it has provided, but also honored the creation of the Center itself and its foundation.

In 1966, the Religious of the Society of the Sacred heart created the program in El Cajon for preschool children with developmental disabilities. Its first director was Sr. Mary Mardel, who could not make the early evening celebration, was missed but not forgotten as Emerson and others recalled her devotion to the Center’s health, prosperity and livelihood for 50 years.

State Sen. Joel Anderson attended the event and happily delivered a State Resolution on behalf of the California State Legislator, signed by himself and Assemblyman Brian Jones.

“I can just tell you how proud I am after 50 years, to be here for this celebration,” he said. “I was driving over here thinking about all the lives, all the families that have been touched over the past 50 years, and how many of those lives improved. An I thank all of you. You all came here, you work, you donated your time, you donated your money and you should all be proud of the achievement.”

There are still many investment opportunities in helping STMSC meet its Capital Campaign, including its Education & Administration Building, Aquatics Center Locker Room Building, Senior Center, Solar Energy System, Ghio Building Improvements and a Campus-wide Security System. Gifts of all amounts are needed and appreciated and that 20 percent of all funds raised for improvements will be dedicated to a permanent endowment at Kraemer Endowment Foundation for maintenance and facility improvements of existing buildings.

For more information on how you can support, volunteer and donate visit www.stmsc.org/donate.