St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center the Winner of Oprah’s Big Give
By Cynthia Robertson

On the morning of St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center Morning Glory Brunch, the 10 th annual event of this favorite fund-raiser, everywhere people were running to hug each other, exclaiming “We won!” It wasn’t some lottery winning or even one of the big-ticket auction items everyone was talking about.

The win was something much bigger. Just the evening before, board member Valerie Saraf sent out a special edition of her email newsletter. Saraf relayed the news from Channel 10 that St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center had won as recipient of much-talked-about Oprah’s Big Give.

“That means that the Center will receive $10,000, and the developmentally disabled community has been greatly spotlighted during Autism Awareness month,” exclaimed Saraf whose son Tony is a student at SMSC.

For the past three weeks, 10 News and Oprah's Big Give have challenged San Diegans to make a difference. Just last week, St. Madeleine’s reached its minimum goal of $10,0000, making the organization eligible to have the public vote for them at from April 11 through April 17.

The non-profit with the highest number of votes would receive the match and the winner revealed in a 30-minute special. St. Madeleine’s received that great honor.

“I can't thank all of you enough for your tremendous help during this campaign. It made a huge difference that pushed us ahead of the other nonprofits,” said Saraf in her email notice.

The Morning Glory Brunch is always a happy affair, with families and friends of St. Madeleine looking forward to the event for months. Springtime flowers in all her glory in the garden, and this year, the pink and purple blossoms seemed even brighter than ever with all the good news.

“I’ve had some of the students come up to me and say they had prayed every night for us to win the Big Give,” said Judy Mantle, a board member. “This big win will lift even more the morale of our students here at the Center.”

St. Madeleine’s was one of several contenders, including Alzheimer’s Foundation of America and Jackie Robinson Family YMCA. “We were the least known of all them,” said Mantle. “What this says is that people really care about the work down here. It’s a tribute to a wonderful leadership.”

The Birch family was one of the hundreds celebrating the good news. Jack and Sue Birch have always credited St. Madeleine’s as a blessing, watching their daughter Heather blossoming under the myriad of programs and education offered there. “St. Madeleine’s is such a gem, and it is yet to be discovered by others not in the East County area. This winning will really put us on the map.”

Sister Maxine Kraemer, an early founder of the organization, said the gift was a result of hard work by everyone involved. “We will use the money to fund the new education building,” she said.

“This is great news. It will be a wonderful honor to be blessed on an international for the gift of life we support here,” said Sister Anita Lapeyre. “Up to now, our center has almost been a hidden spot out here.”


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