Mary L. Duffie was asked to provide daycare to three children with intellectual disabilities in the basement of a local church. As parents in the greater Columbia area learned of Mrs. Duffie’s efforts, the small daycare center grew rapidly and began to serve adults as well as children. Mary L. Duffie was now providing families with new hope for the future.
With assistance from Arthur St. Julian Simons II, grandson of Dr. James Woods Babcock, Mrs. Duffie’s “Wee Care Center” moved into the former Waverly Sanitarium. The Babcock Center launched South Carolina’s first community residential services for adults with intellectual disabilities after receiving funding to construct homes in local neighborhoods.
Mrs. Duffie discovered a married couple with disabilities living in a chicken coop. She secured housing for them and this event would influence the work of Babcock Center for many years.
The Babcock Center became the first private community organization to receive funding from the SC Department of Mental Retardation. Mrs. Duffie immediately began working to meet housing needs of people with disabilities who were homeless or could no longer remain with their natural families.
The Richland/Lexington Mental Retardation Board was formed to centralize support for families of people with disabilities in the greater Columbia area.
Mrs. Duffie helped found the South Carolina Human Service Providers Association to support the agencies and professionals who serve people with autism, intellectual disabilities, head injuries, spinal cord injuries or related disabilities. Their founding philosophy is to ensure that those living with disabilities and their family members have a voice and a choice when it comes to their care.
The Babcock Center Foundation was established to further support the Babcock Center’s mission by sponsoring special events, fundraising and volunteer opportunities.
Mrs. Duffie retired as President and CEO of Babcock Center, Inc., and Executive Director of the Richland/Lexington Mental Retardation Board. She began serving as Executive Director of the Babcock Center Foundation on a full-time basis. Robert L. Bartles became President and CEO of the Babcock Center and the agency continued to make progress in improving vocational and residential services for people with intellectual disabilities.
A new agency – the South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs (SCDDSN) – was formed to give people with lifelong disabilities a voice at the highest level of state government.
Risley E. Linder Sr. became President and CEO of Babcock Center. The agency broadened its mission to provide services to people with autism, head injuries, spinal cord injuries and similar disabilities, intellectual disabilities and related disabilities. In keeping with its broader mission, Babcock Center became the first nonprofit community organization in South Carolina to serve people with severe head injuries or spinal cord injuries through a contract with DDSN.
Dr. Judy Johnson became Babcock Center’s President and CEO. With Dr. Johnson’s leadership, Babcock Center established Job Coaching and a Family Council to ensure quality standards of support and to make recommendations from a family perspective.
Through the support of the Babcock Center, nearly 5,000 adults with disabilities throughout South Carolina receive vocational training on a daily basis, and over 800 adults with autism, cognitive disabilities, head injuries, spinal cord injuries or related disabilities are employed in the marketplace and earn competitive wages. We are the largest private provider of community services for people with severe lifelong disabilities in South Carolina.