By Lois R. Durrah, M.A., LPC, NCC Senior Vice President Community Supports Services 

    Since 1971, the Charles Lea Center has played a crucial role by helping thousands of Spartanburg County residents with intellectual disabilities or chronic medical conditions succeed in life.

    What started as a mission to help children with disabilities has blossomed into an organization committed to helping people of all ages.

    When working with individuals and their families, we heard a consistent theme of feedback – just like everyone else, they wanted a sense of independence. 


     Leveraging Technology 

    Never content with doing things as they’ve always been done, the Charles Lea Center works to find creative solutions to providing services.

    Staff quickly realized they could leverage the growing technology offerings and implement them into the daily lives of individuals to give that freedom and independence.

    Technology, like an Amazon Echo device that we take for granted, can serve a vital role in providing the freedom to let those with disabilities lead normal lives.

    The Center has made incredible progress over the years putting the technology to work that has allowed many individuals to live on their own without 24/7 assistance. 


    Work Options 

    The Charles Lea Center also provides job training to the individuals we serve.

    The Center has also worked to create jobs within our organization that offer services to local businesses and industries.

    This allows those we serve to earn a paycheck and feel a level of confidence they didn’t have prior.

    Through our innovative Career Start and Charles Lea Industries, we are helping grow our job market. 


     Getting Noticed 

    Over the last decade, the Charles Lea Center has grown into a national leader in providing the supports to help those being served.

    Five years ago, the state of North Carolina reached out to Charles Lea Center leaders to inquire about how it implemented these unique elements into the system.

    That discussion led to a pilot program to provide supports in the Tarheel State.

    The Charles Lea Center began to methodically roll out services in Greenville and Wilmington, North Carolina and is now serving a growing number of people in eastern North Carolina.

    Other states have also taken notice and are now using the Charles Lea Center’s expertise to expand their services. 


     The Work Isn’t Done 

     While being considered a national leader, the Charles Lea Center isn’t sitting idly by and offering the services and supports already in place.

    The organization continues to grow and look for creative ways to give individuals the tools they need to feel like they are a part of the community.

    The Charles Lea Center is committed to supporting individuals with disabilities where they live, work, and play. 


    Upcoming Events 

    The Charles Lea Center Foundation will host Road Rally 36 “Homegrown & Locally Owned”, on Sunday, October 2, 2022.

    This annual event is the longest running fundraiser in Spartanburg.

    Proceeds go to benefit initiatives for persons with disabilities. 

    Career Start Employment Training Center will host its Open House.

    Representatives from the seven school districts and McCarthy-Teszler School will participate in a tour and informational showcasing the use of technology for employment skills development.