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A Historical Tribute to Barbel Adkins, founder of the Family Abuse Shelter

Updated: Jan 31, 2021

On June 29, 2005, Barbel Adkins lost her battle with heart disease and the community lost a kind and compassionate advocate for those needing support. She was only 62.

Born in Germany in 1943, Barbel served as a Deputy Sheriff in Miami County, Ohio in the late 1970’s. At the time, victims of domestic violence had to be housed temporarily in the county 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 for victims of domestic violence and homelessness.

In 1989, Barbel expanded services to assist victims by establishing the first batterer’s intervention program, called “Alternatives”, in Miami County. This anger/rage education program continues to work to assist batterers to acquire new, non-violent ways of dealing with stress and anger. This program is still heavily utilized by the local Municipal Court system, Children’s Protective Services, as well as 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, new services were added that included court-based advocacy, counseling, and traditional housing.

Barbel, a Licensed Social Worker, was a well-known lecturer in 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 offices, educators, and medical personnel in her ongoing quest to end domestic violence.

Barbel often said her work was a mission. She turned away no one.

I happened to be visiting the shelter 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 are 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 face, hugged me and said, “I always cry. It doesn’t matter how many times I see this, I always cry.”

This amazing woman has a great respect for all living things. Only one week before she died, when she was not feeling well at all, she took a little bird with a broken wing to an animal rescue shelter.

Barbel Evelyn Marklein Adkins. She will be sorely missed. The world has lost a great soul, a loving humanitarian. She left a great legacy in the Family Abuse Shelter, which continues to grow and nurture people each and every day.

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