Historical Tribute to Barbel Adkins, founder of the Family Abuse Shelter, written by Libby Scancarello

On June 29, Barbel Adkins lost her battle with heart disease. She was only 62.

Born in Germany in 1943, Barbel Adkins served as a Deputy Sheriff in Miami County, Ohio, in the late 1970’s. At the time, victims of domestic violence had to be kept temporarily in jail for their protection. Barbel recognized the need for a better solution. In 1979, with financial assistance from local churches, schools and civic organizations, the Family Abuse Shelter of Miami County was established.

In 1989, Barbel expanded services to assist victims by establishing the first batterer’s intervention program in Miami County. This anger/rage education program, called “Alternatives,” works to assist batterers in acquiring new, non-violent ways of dealing with stress and anger. This program is heavily utilized by the Municipal Court System, the Children’s Services Bureau, and many other agencies.

In 1991, Barbel further expanded the shelter program to include the Buckeye House, an emergency shelter for men. Both shelters operate 24/7.

Over the years, Barbel has added new services such as court-based advocacy, counseling and transitional housing. A licensed social worker, Barbel was a well-known lecturer in the state of Ohio and authored many articles on Domestic Violence. She received numerous awards for her work and continuously worked to develop training programs and brochures for law enforcement officers, educators and medical personnel in her on-going quest to end Domestic Violence.

Barbel often said that her work was a mission. Barbel turned away no one. I happened to be visiting the shelter one day when a woman arrived from several states away asking for shelter. She brought only what she could get in her car and had been driving all night. She spoke only Spanish. Barbel quickly found an interpreter and determined what this woman needed. “Of course you may stay; you’re safe here”, Barbel said. The woman nearly collapsed as the weight of worry and fear was removed from her. I watched in awe as Barbel hugged the sobbing woman and then, with tears running down her own face she hugged me and said, “I always cry. It doesn’t matter how many times I see this, I always cry.”

This amazing woman had a great respect for all living things. Only one week before she died when she was not feeling at all well, she took a little bird with a broken wing to an animal rescue shelter. The world has lost a great soul, a loving humanitarian. Barbel Evelyn Marklein Adkins. She will be sorely missed.

Barbel left a great legacy from which the Family Abuse Shelter continues to grow and build upon each and every day.