The History of the Dickerson Center for Children

County Children’s Center Becomes Dickerson Center for Children

On February 1st the Lexington County Children’s Center took on a new name, The Dickerson Center for Children. And, on the afternoon of February 12th, there will be a special ribbon cutting and reception. The name change reflects a wider area of service and honors the contribution of the Dickerson family.

“I’m an issues person,” says Nettie Dickerson with her dark brown eyes fixed on you. Matriarch of the Dickerson family, Nettie was a homemaker, a mother and psychiatric nurse prior to founding BankAir. Her training and experience made her an astute listener when she began to receive information on the issue of services for abused children. Before the Lexington County Children’s Center was founded in 1995 children in various counties, including Lexington had to be driven to several different agencies, traveling for anxious hours before receiving evaluations.

The Dickerson Center for Children is not a state agency; rather it depends on client fees, contributions and SOVA funds to continue its services. Sources of additional funding have included proceeds from the Lake Murray Dam Walk, sponsored by the Lexington County Medical Foundation. Another major source is the annual auction and Women’s Golf Tournament sponsored by The Fun(d) Raisers. Just a few weeks ago, The Fun(d) Raisers presented the Center with a check for $41,000 which represented nearly 20 percent of the center’s 2002 budget.

“When intervention is initiated at an early age, it is possible to stop the terrible, repeating cycle of abuse which can lead to juvenile delinquency and/or emotional problems in adulthood.”

The former tourist home at 1615 Augusta Road, W. Columbia where the center is located was purchased by John Dickerson, Sr. in 1957. According to Nettie, “When we moved in it was completely furnished, including sheets on the beds!” The family lived downstairs and the tenants in the upstairs. “We got to know all types of people who became a part of our family,” said Nettie. One former tenant even remembered the Dickerson’s in his will. And his gift was used to pay off the mortgage. After Mr. Dickerson died, Nettie was approached by a representative of the Department of Mental Health about the building’s availability for office space. It served the Department of Mental Health for a few years and then became the home of the Lexington County Children’s Center.

Even though the house has taken on a life of its own, it has always been a special, caring place for travelers, family, and friends. Today, every client who undergoes a medical exam leaves with a gift bag of crayons and books and their choice of a teddy bear. Dr. Susan Shaw, Executive Director of the Dickerson Center noted that, “Many local groups have contributed to the center by painting walls, building book cases, and donating time, money, toys, teddy bears and equipment. They recognize, as we do, the importance of providing immediate attention to abused children. When intervention is initiated at an early age, it is possible to stop the terrible, repeating cycle of abuse which can lead to juvenile delinquency and/or emotional problems in adulthood.”

Just as the tenants of the tourist home were travelers so are the children and families who come to the center. They are traveling through a difficult, painful time in their lives. To have a welcoming edifice, such as the Dickerson Center for Children, shines a beam of hope on their otherwise difficult journey. It is Nettie Dickerson’s hope that the message children and visitors get from the center is one of caring and safety. With an engaging smile and sparkle in her eyes, Nettie Dickerson shared one of her Nettieisms, “WE is the magic word that creates success.”

[This article, written by Joan H. Eison, originally appeared in the Lexington Chronicle, February 2003.]

DCC News

February 2007 – 2007 Light a Heart Campaign

September 2006 – 2006 Auction and Golf Tournament

November 2005 – DCC Mourns the Loss of Nettie Dickerson

November 2005 – 10th Anniversary Drop-In

October 2005 – 2005 Auction and Golf Tournament–a BIG SUCCESS!

October 2005 – 2005 Auction and Golf Tournament

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