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St. Madeleine Sophie's Center, Inc.

Rating: 2.33 stars   3 reviews 209


St. Madeleine Sophie's Center 2119 East Madison Avenue El Cajon CA 92019 USA


The mission of St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center (SMSC) is to empower adults with developmental disabilities to discover, experience and realize their full potential as members of the greater community. SMSC is open to all, and religious instruction is neither provided nor required. Founded in 1966, SMSC is a licensed, vocational day training center that annually serves 377+ adults with developmental disabilities (i.e. autism, Down syndrome, epilepsy, cerebral palsy) who represent a full spectrum of socio-economic, religious, ethnic, racial and cultural backgrounds.   Over 95% of SMSC students earn a paycheck. Most are in our paid vocational training programs to develop career awareness, learn job skills, and increase their independence. SMSC anticipates having an enrollment of 400 students by year-end 2010.


At SMSC, adult students learn and grow, earn modest income and enjoy friendships and social activities throughout their lifetimes – from recent high school graduate to senior citizen (age 22 to 70+).  SMSC offers a life-long program; many of our students have been enrolled in our program for over 20 years. SMSC’s programs are offered on a staff-to-student ratio of 1:3 to 1:6. They include: Adaptive Computer Lab; Behavior Modification; Organic Garden and Worm Farm; Work Activity Program; Aquatics; Culinary Arts; Aerobics/Fitness/Yoga; Dance; Sophie’s Gallery; Music Therapy; Reading; Speech Therapy/Sign Language; and a Senior Program for students age 50+.


SMSC operates three sites: (1) its 5-acre main campus on the outskirts of the City of El Cajon; (2) its Sophie''s Gallery and Gift Shop which occupies a 4,400 sq. ft. storefront with art exhibition and studio space in Downtown El Cajon’s revitalization district; and (3) Sophie’s Gallery NTC – a satellite gallery located at the NTC (Naval Training Center) Promenade in Point Loma where SMSC students and artists from the general public exhibit and sell their work.


SMSC’s art program began in the 1970s when it started in one classroom with just a few students on the main campus. Today, the art program takes place at two sites: Sophie’s Gallery & Gift Shop, a 4,400 sq. ft. storefront that opened in Downtown El Cajon in 1999, and Sophie’s Gallery NTC that opened in 2009 and offers exhibition space for regional artists as well as SMSC students. A satellite gallery and gift shop, called Sophie’s Too, is located on SMSC’s main campus. At Sophie’s Gallery in Downtown El Cajon, 150 to 200 of the 377+ adult students who are enrolled at SMSC attend the program every week. Our students learn a variety of media, such as print-making, jewelry-making, and painting; they also exhibit their work locally, regionally and nationally. Sophie’s was the first art program of its kind in San Diego County; all of the instructors are professional artists. In addition, the general public attends our Open Studio classes where they learn side-by-side with our students. 

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Reviews for St. Madeleine Sophie's Center, Inc.

Rating: 5 stars  

My experience with this organization has been wonderful. My brother is a client of theirs; he has been attending the art program for five years now. I have seen my brother evolve in so many ways; he used to be withdrawn and scared to go out. He has higher self-esteem because he now feels like he has a sense of purpose. He is empowered by his art and by the options he is given. He is in a safe environment in which he knows he is understood and accepted. My brother is a person with high-functioning autism and is very aware if anyone treats him in a abusive, discriminatory, or degrading manner. I am saddened that the previous people who posted had such negative experiences, but those experiences are not a reflection of St. Madeleine Sophie's Center as a whole.

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Rating: 1 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

Some of the staff are very unprofessional, rude, and offensive. Managers of staff do nothing about the intolerable conduct. Removed my adult child from this program.

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Review from Guidestar
Role: General Member of the Public
Rating: 1 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

Beware for those who plan on putting their disabled household member at this day program. They are all about money! I seen a lot of staff members come and go. Job coaches keep getting changed out without any warning. Same with case managers. I had a hard time knowing who was who. The directors there are emotionally abusive. They will talk down and find ways to intimidate you. The abuse got so bad that they had me see a psychiatrist because they thought I was too mentally unstable to work. When I got a note of approval to return, they still denied the right for me to come back and work. I am on disability because of epilepsy. I am developmentally disabled. I was in their supportive employment program they offered. But this incident was not seizure related. Is that even legal? I already had area board 13 involved because of this. In fact St Madeleine directors laid me off before i could work again. Their excuse was that I was too high functioning for their program. They should have helped me get a job at Goodwill or something. No need though because I already work there and they treat me far better than St Madeleine's did. I feel sorry for the current clients that attend there for some are not as high functioning and they may be being emotionally abused too. No I would not recommend this program. There are better non profits for disabled adults that could help out your special needs household member. I would only give 1 star just because i had to give a rating. If you ask me St Madeleine's deserved 0 stars. Best of luck if you all if you go against my advice. Sincerely a highly disappointed former St Madeleine Sophie's Center client/consumer/ stafff or whatever I was. Too confused to even know my role there.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Let the client know in advance if there is going to be changes in their work environment as this could upset them if you don't. If you meet the expectations of St Madeleine Sophie's Center, they should put the client in another workplace if they wish for more challenges instead of leaving them out in the cold. Be more compassionate and caring toward the client because they may feel intimidated if you don't.

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Review from Guidestar