Matt and Robin Rhoades founded Southside Art Center in 1986. They wanted a place for both people living in the community and people coming out of developmental centers to work alongside each other and get the supports they needed through the arts. Matt and Robin wanted to create a place where people could express stories of their lives through art and improve the quality of their life through selling their art for profit. Over the past 35 years, Southside has grown to support over 200 participants in five cities in the greater Sacramento region in art, employment and volunteerism.
In 2017, Southside Art Center went through some major advancements! We changed our name to Southside Unlimited to reflect how Southside has grown and changed in response to the needs of people with developmental disabilities. We redesigned our art program and opened Work of Art Studio and Gallery, an inclusive art space where people with and without disabilities can work alongside each other creating individual and collaborative works.
In 2020, Southside Employment Services expanded their services and support workers with developmental disabilities to find and retain employment in local Sacramento businesses. Within the first year of its launch, almost 15 people have gotten a job, increasing their confidence and financial independence.
Finally, the Passage Program works with participants who communicate their needs using behavior. Passage supports the participant to meet their needs in other ways, so they are able to have meaningful work volunteering in the community. This has been especially important during the pandemic, where Passage focused on supporting the participant and their family, during the shutdown, and transitioning everyone back to work when Southside reopened.
In November 2021 Southside's co-founder and Executive Director Robin Rhoades retired after more than 40 years in the field. Katherine Wallen is now the Executive Director, and is excited to continue Southside's Mission, and stay a leader in providing support to people with developmental disabilities in the Sacramento area.
Southside Unlimited supports adults with developmental disabilities, including people with Down syndrome, autism, intellectual disability, and cerebral palsy. Many participants have a dual diagnosis of developmental disability and mental health. Participants are referred to Southside by Alta California Regional Center. Southside currently supports over 200 participants in four cities: Sacramento, Elk Grove, Galt and Auburn. Southside Unlimited has an operating budget of approximately $4 million per year. It receives funding from Alta California Regional Center, Southside's recycling business, as well as private donations.