Gloucester’s Social Services director to retire

by Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Sep 12, 2018 - 11:52 AM

Photo: Beth Barry, director of Gloucester’s Department of Social Services, stands in front of the plaque that recognizes the 1993 opening of the new Social Services building on Short Lane. Photo by Quinton Sheppard

Beth Barry, director of Gloucester’s Department of Social Services, stands in front of the plaque that recognizes the 1993 opening of the new Social Services building on Short Lane. Photo by Quinton Sheppard

After 38 years in social work and 30 years with the agency, Beth Barry, director of the Gloucester Department of Social Services, will retire, effective the end of the month.

Barry took over the director’s position from Evins Goodwin in 2007. Prior to that, she had served for assistant director for eight years.

“Social work was in my blood as my paternal grandfather, a tremendous role model for me, served on the Gloucester Social Services Board (then Welfare Board) for many years,” Barry said. Her mother, also a role model for her, began working in the field for York County and then Gloucester. “I was raised to see her work in action and understand the needs of the community and the necessity for a public welfare system.”

Looking back on her years with Gloucester, she said there were approximately 23 employees and the office was located in the Edgehill Shopping Center. “The agency continued to grow as Gloucester County’s population increased,” Barry said.

With the growing population came the growing need for various services, especially in the area of child protective services. “Gloucester was a growing community as the degree of child abuse reported was overwhelming,” she said.

Barry’s work in this area along with the help of other employees and agencies led to the development of a trained child abuse protocol team, which helped in the identification, treatment and prosecution of child abuse in Gloucester.

She is also pleased with how the community and various organizations within the community have come together during her tenure to help combat issues related to substance abuse and domestic violence that plague the community.

“At the core of all the accomplishments I have, the agency staff who tirelessly, day in and day out, 24-7 in some programs, meet and exceed the duties expected and are the reason for my accomplishments,” Barry said. “In addition, the Social Services board provides tremendous support to the agency and aides in ensuring that the agency has the tools necessary to get the job done to the best of our ability.”

It is because of her dedicated staff that in 2010 when the economy was in a bad way, Gloucester’s Department of Social Services was recognized by the Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Social Services as the “flagship among social service agencies.” Barry said, “We continued to provide accurate and timely benefits to our eligible citizens despite the increase in demand. That quality of service continues and I am very proud of that.”

Then, in 2012, she said the agency was named to the Virginia Department of Social Services’ Top 15 Local Departments of Social Services. To achieve this, Barry and her staff had to exceed that state’s expectations in providing services in all of its programs.

In retirement, Barry said her goal is to “embrace every day and enjoy it to the fullest.” She and her husband, who is also retired, plan to stay in Gloucester in the home, which she considers her “little piece of heaven” on Sterling Creek.

There is one thing she will miss about her job, and that same thing she will always cherish—the people she leaves behind. “It’s really not about me,” Barry said. “It’s about them. I just get the glory and honor.”

Lisa Kersey, who has worked under Barry’s supervision for the past 20 years, will fill the position after Bary officially retires.