New Dickerson Children’s Advocacy Center a ‘doorway to a dream’
It was a celebration that would not be necessary in an ideal world.
The Dickerson Children’s Advocacy Center (DCAC) cut the ribbon on its new facility in Lexington on Thursday afternoon.
The DCAC provides services for abused children, including forensic interviews, medical exams, mental-health assistance, and victim-advocate services.
The new DCAC home has more interview space for victims, with video feeds so investigators can observe victims in order to enforce cases and direct treatment for children.
“We shouldn’t need it,” said Lexington County Councilman Todd Cullum, “But thank God it’s here.”
Cullum was one of many leaders who spoke before the ribbon was cut on the 4,000-square-foot building on Gibson Road.
Elizabeth Taylor, DCAC board chairwoman, thanked Nettie Dickerson, who donated a building for the center in West Columbia more than 20 years ago. Many of the Dickerson family are still involved with raising funds for DCAC.
The speakers were effusive in their praise.
South Carolina Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster said South Carolinians have big hearts and that the Dickerson Center is an example to be proud of.
“We don’t know what these children go through,” said state Sen. Katrina Shealy of Lexington. She also presented DCAC Executive Director Carol Yarborough with a resolution from the state Senate.
Lexington County Sheriff Jay Koon, whose office is practically next door to the center, said the Dickerson Center “is very valuable to what we do.” He noted the DCAC conducted 250 interviews for child-abuse cases last year.
Lexington Mayor Steve MacDougall referred to the staff at the center as “angels” that he is glad to have in the community.
S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson of Lexington said he has prosecuted “a lot of criminal sexual conduct cases” in his career, and it is scary for the young victims. He credited Dickerson Center staff for making the difficult process easier for the “small innocent souls.”
Yarborough was the last speaker, and she called the new center the “doorway to a dream.”
She said more space and upgraded facilities will help the DCAC staff be more efficient. She also encouraged members of the community to “speak up” and help child abuse victims.
“They are our children,” Yarborough said.
Pastor Alex Twedt of Transfiguration Lutheran Church in Cayce blessed the building. He asked the rhetorical question, “Where is God?” in abuse cases.
“God is in you all,” he answered.