Dickerson Center’s Carol Yarborough is a voice for abused children

Carol Wyatt Yarborough

Carol Wyatt Yarborough has the ability to keep calm when things are getting out of hand.

“I can keep my head straight in a crisis,” Yarborough said. She described the commotion surrounding a car accident when she was in college.
“A child on a bicycle was hit by a car,” Yarborough said. “I calmly called EMS. It was the management of a chaotic situation. I didn’t overreact.”

Her resolve, when things seem wildly amiss, is an extremely valuable asset as the Executive Director of the Dickerson Children’s Advocacy Center (DCAC.)
The DCAC recently moved from West Columbia to Gibson Road in Lexington. Its mission is “to provide comprehensive assessment and treatment services to physically and sexually abused children ages 0-18 years throughout the Midlands of South Carolina.”
Yarborough said she initially discovered her sensibilities for control amid calamity when she was in college at Clemson University.

“My mom had a heart attack,” Yarborough explained, so she did what she had to do. To help, she moved back to West Columbia. She enrolled at the University of South Carolina. After graduating from USC, Yarborough worked as a “floater” at the university, where she moved from one department to another to cover for other staff members.

“I got a pretty good overview of the university. I got to know a little about a lot,” Yarborough said.
4-1She said she learned it takes many different parts, and knowledge, to succeed. She brings those parts together.
“We’re smarter when we work together,” Yarborough said.
And not only is cohesion needed for efficiency. In an agency that responds to abused children, morale support is at a premium.
“We have to look out for each other,” Yarborough said. She said it’s obvious sometimes that someone at the DCAC is struggling with the emotions of the job.

“It’s hard not to take the job home with you, but we build each other up.”
She said understanding the stress of the situations is also applied to families of victims, who are in shock on many occasions.
Stepping back and surveying the whole of the landscape was part of the lesson Yarborough learned, before she came to the DCAC,. She worked in sexual trauma services and with a sexual assault response team.

But at one point the weight of that exposure got really heavy. “I needed a break,” Yarborough said. And she took one. In 2008, she was working for the Department of Health and Environmental Control, but that position did not meet her calling.
“My husband (Steve) said: ‘Your soul is dying.’ And I wanted to get back into non-profit,” Yarborough said.

About that time Susan Shaw was planning to retire from her position as DCAC executive director. Yarborough thought her firsthand experience “in the trenches with victims” was an imperative for the job. The DCAC’s Board agreed, and in 2009 she became executive director.

Yarborough has accumulated the right mix of qualities for the DCAC. In her journey, she has earned two graduate degrees, one in higher education and the other in social work. She has time on the job as an administrator and training in nonprofit management. Yarborough is also well-known in the networks that advocate for the protection o children.

Aside from that, she is a native of Lexington County. Yarborough went to Saluda River Elementary School and what was known as BC Grammar No. 4. She also went to Northside Middle School in West Columbia. Carol and Steve’s children are Zach and Morgan. Both are grown and married. They grew up in Lexington County.
At Brookland-Cayce High School, Yarborough was a cheerleader and the homecoming queen. She recalls a friend from those days.

“Abby Bray sponsored me on homecoming,” Yarborough said. They remained friends until the beloved educator, coach and West Columbia City Councilman died of cancer in 2013. Yarborough still carries a voice message on her phone from Bray from just before he discovered he had terminal cancer.

Here ties to the community are strong.
“My roots are here,” Yarborough said. And she said that is important when you deal with families on such a personal level. She also said she knows the culture of the people, and that helps her do her job. She applies what she knows and wants to have a positive affect.
“I’m proud to be a citizen, but we need to do better. I want Lexington County to be all it can be,” Yarborough said.

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