Maryann “Miki” Gudermuth contracted polio during the summer polio epidemic of 1949. Due to all the concerns of Post-Polio Syndrome, she decided to organize what was the first post-polio support group in southeast Missouri in 1984. The group met in her home and evolved to include people with other types of disabilities. The group provided community outreach, information and referral, and peer support to persons living in the City of Cape Girardeau and outlying areas of the county.
Gudermuth founded SEMO Alliance for Disability Independence (SADI) as a non-residential independent living center along with board members Leemon Priest, Amanda Glascock, Sherri and Lonnie Brown, Ken Emmons, Thomas M. Meyer, Michael H. Maguire, and Sharon Williams on July 1, 1987. SADI received 501 (c) 3 status September 23, 1993.
In 1988, SADI hosted the first Disability Talent and Resource Fair at West Park Mall, which demonstrated the talents of people with disabilities along with area resources available to persons living in southeastern Missouri.
From 1984 through 1993, most of SADI’s activities were carried out from Miki’s dining room table on a MacIntosh 128k computer and an old used copier that her husband, Chuck, had to keep in running order until the center was funded and an office could be located.
SADI opened its office at 1029 North Kingshighway on January 2, 1993. It had a staff of three employees and two volunteers at the time in the 1,256 square-foot office. In 1995, SADI moved to 121 S. Broadview because the staff was growing and it needed more space. In 1998, it expanded its office space at that location. In 2008, SADI moved into a newly constructed building at 1913 Rusmar Street. In 2009, SADI opened its first branch office in Charleston, Missouri. In 2010, another branch office was opened in Marble Hill, Missouri. Another branch office opened in Perryville, Missouri in January 2011. 2013 SADI expanded and opened the Independent Living Services Center at 755 South Kingshighway in Cape. Today, SADI employs over 135 people in all locations and continues to expand programs and services.
SADI is grant-funded to provide independent living services to the counties of Cape Girardeau, Bollinger, Perry, Scott, and Mississippi. In addition, SADI contracts with the Department of Health and Senior Services to provide personal care services in the aforementioned counties, as well as New Madrid, Stoddard, Butler, Madison, St. Francois, Wayne, and Ste. Genevieve. Under the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Services Department, SADI’s Interpreter Referral Services extends into the additional counties of Pemiscot, Dunklin, and Ste. Genevieve. The center provides, but is not limited to: information and referral, peer support, independent living skills training, comprehensive case management, advocacy, consumer-directed services, in-home services, social security benefits planning, employment mentoring services, assistive technology, loan closet, transportation in Cape Girardeau and Scott counties, ADA accessibility education, GAPS (Giving Autistics’ Parents Support), and client assistance.