The Columbia, South Carolina Chapter of The Links, Incorporated is a not-for-profit service oriented local affiliate of the national organization of The Links, Incorporated.
The Links, Inc. is an organized membership of women leaders who are linked in service and friendship to promote and engage in educational, civic and intercultural activities in order to enrich the lives of members and the larger community.
The Columbia Chapter of the Links, Incorporated was organized in April, 1952 by Elise F. Jenkins and Marian B. Paul. The original sixteen members were Essie T. Chappelle, Ada S. Cooper, Hattie Mae Cornwell, Ruth W. DeLorme, Elise F. Jenkins, Minnie W. Johnson, Vivian Y. Jones, Pearl M. Mance, Vivian N. Monteith, Marian B. Paul, Harriett S. rogers, Dorothy N. Russell, Evaretta S. Rutherford, Geneva C. Scott, Alma W. Williams, and Juanita Johnson Wilson.
Juanita Johnson Wilson was the first president with Pearl M. Mance as secretary and Dorothy N. Russell as treasurer.
Following guidelines from the national body, the chapter began its activities by taking a life membership in the NAACP and by sponsoring programs in the community of civic, cultural, educational and social interests.
In 1954, the National Links decentralized into four (4) geographic areas – Central Area, Eastern Area, Southern Area and Western Area. The Columbia Chapter hosted the Southern Area in 1959. The Columbia Chapter has been represented at every Southern Area conference and National Assembly. Some of our members have served as Area Officers or as one of the facet Chairpersons for the Southern Area.
Through the years, we have worked with the four facets of our national program – The Arts, Services to Youth, National Trends and Services, and International Trends and Services – while at the same time contributing to the Grant-in-Aid Programs at the national level.
In our early years, we contributed both financially and in service to many of our local charities and organizations. To name a few, The YMCA, the Good Samaritan-Waverly Hospital (a local hospital built for and by African Americans); Girl Scouts; the Wilkinson Orphanage Home for Girls; Brothers and Sisters and Senior Citizens homes and groups.
Our first fundraiser was a Bridge-Fashion Luncheon from which the proceeds were used to install telephones in the rooms of the Good Samaritan-Waverly Hospital. Also, during these years, we concentrated on services to youth by identifying and sponsoring gifted children in art and music. We organized a boys choir, conducted a charm school for girls at a Juvenile Detention Facility; sponsored art shows by young local artists; and paid all expenses for a high school student to receive vocal lessons at the Interlocken School for the Arts in Interlocken, Michigan. In 1975-76, we adopted a foreign exchange student and helped her during her year-long stay here.
In more recent years, we have worked with the schools and our community in many ways. Columbia has an African-American History Museum known as the Mann-Simons Cottage, which is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. The Links donated time and energy promoting museum events and serving as hostesses. The Cottage needed financial support to retire its restoration debt and we sponsored a fundraiser – “The Harlem Renaissance”, in which musicians, dancers, writers, and poets were depicted on slides during the evening. We were able to retire the debt.
We adopted E.E. Taylor Elementary and W.A. Perry Middle School and sponsored Project LEAD at C.A. Johnson High School. We have been publicly recognized by Richland County School District I for our service and W.A. Perry Middle School honored us with an award. – “Partners in Academic Excellence”. The Links organized the first “Just Say No Club” at E.E. Taylor Elementary School and sponsored the “Just Say No” Walk for many years. As part of the walk activity, there was an Art Poster Contest on saying no to drugs, and all the schools in the District participated. W. A. Perry Middle School was able to hire a nurse, but no fringe benefits were provided. We paid for her benefits from 1989 to 1991, when the District finally took over all expenses. Nurses were hired in all the middle schools because of our efforts.
In keeping with “Wellness of the African-American Family”, the W.A. Perry Middle School Task Force received a grant in the amount of $10,800 from The Links Foundation to provide dental care for the students. Our chapter sponsored the program for which we received the National Friends and Services Award from the Southern Area and the National Assembly. Two of our members along with various local dentists, provided the care which included providing sealants as needed to all students. We also provided a dental trailer office on campus for easier access to dental care for all students.
In 1990 we began our annual fundraiser (a Christmas Brunch), to provide for the LinksScholars Program. Three students were selected to receive a scholarship based on academics and financial need. We paid $3,000 for each student for each year to help defray the cost of tuition. We also provided help securing summer jobs, certain health care needs (donated by Connecting Links) and soliciting various stores to help them secure a professional wardrobe. Two of the students graduated with honors – a young woman who attended Harvard Law School and a young man who attended the University of South Carolina Law School. The third student, a young woman completed the engineering program at the University of South Carolina. We are very proud of them!
Finally, beginning in 1993 and continuing for the next two years, we began working with some of our brothers and sisters from South Africa who were exchange students at the University of South Carolina. All of them were working in administrative positions in the field of Education in South Africa studying our methods. The first year, we entertained only women with a buffet reception preceded by and exchange of cultural, educational and social differences. Each was given a gift from our state. The next two years, we held roundtable discussions with both women and men. The first focused on the transition from Apartheid to a desegregated society and the upcoming election in which Nelson Mandela was a candidate; and the second discussion focused on the issues facing South Africa after Mandela’s election. They were quite informative and enjoyable. Friends from the community were invited to all sessions and invited to participate.
During the course of our history, we have had up to nine active Link members have been Links for more than twenty-five years. We have also had up to seven active members who have served has past presidents. While each of our sixteen Charter members are presently deceased, our chapter membership consists of three daughters and two granddaughters of Charter members.
We envision The Columbia (South Carolina) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated to be known as an organization that is:
A model of excellence, empowered by its rich legacy, and providing relevant service through its circle of friendship and community partnerships.
Widely recognized as a collective voice of talented and professional women committed to improving the quality of life of the citizens within the local and international communities we serve.
The Columbia (South Carolina) Chapter of the Links, Incorporated is a not-for-profit service oriented local affiliate of the National Organization of The Links, Incorporated. Established in 1952, we maintain a membership of professional women who are committed to enriching, sustaining, and ensuring the cultural and economic survival of African Americans and other persons of African ancestry. Our objectives include promotion of health and wellness, educational, cultural, and civic programs designed to transform the lives of South Carolinians we serve.