The Sonoma Developmental Center Parent Hospital Association is sponsoring a march and rally from noon to 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, in the Sonoma Plaza to demonstrate public support for keeping the Sonoma Developmental Center open.

Rally organizer Mary O’Riordan said, “The march and rally are a way for families of SDC clients and our supporters to express how tragic it would be if the state were to close SDC. SDC has the expertise, professionally trained staff, and specific services needed to care for California’s most frail and severely developmentally disabled residents.” O’Riordan is a past president of the Parent Hospital Association.

The state has been reducing the populations at its four remaining developmental centers by moving clients into community care homes. However, as O’Riordan points out, not all developmentally disabled people can function in community care homes.

“I have heard from so many heartbroken parents whose developmentally disabled children ended up in jail, because their community care home could not handle their challenging and dangerous behaviors,” O’Riordan said. “Developmental centers provide the safety net for those whose emotional, mental and behavioral issues, or medical frailty, make them inappropriate for community homes.”

O’Riordan’s son lived at SDC for 20 years, until he passed away two years ago.She believes he got excellent care, of which she believes could not have been matched in the community, and she continues to advocate for keeping SDC open.

The Sonoma Developmental Center has been in Sonoma Valley for 122 years. Over the last several years it has gone from a population of 2,000 to less than 500. It has 1,200 employees.

The march around the Sonoma Plaza begins at noon in front of city hall and ends in the Grinstead Amphitheater for a rally featuring speeches by parents. Sonoma Mayor Ken Brown will also read a city council resolution in support of keeping SDC open.

For more information, call O’Riordan at 415-827-2262 or visit