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Barbie Matthews, Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Lighthouse Counseling Services in Hawesville, was born and raised on a farm in Hancock County. “Without a doubt,” she said, “I know that without the hardcore work and Christian values of my parents and grandparents, I would not be the person I am today.”
In her childhood, she helped care for the livestock on her family’s farm, as well as helping raise crops. Barbie said she knows “no other type of lifestyle” and that it helped her to grow as a person. “Life on the farm taught me more about emotions, from happiness to grief,” she said. “When a baby calf was born, bouncing in the field with its mom, it was a time for joy.
But, there were times of grief, when some of our calving on the farm didn’t go as well, teaching me about death and how often life doesn’t go as planned. Regardless, farm life was and still is one that cannot be understood unless experienced.”
Barbie said her parents both worked very hard and set a good example. Her father worked at Wescor Paper Mill all day, and then came home and went out on the farm to begin his second job. “Mom was one of the hardest working women I know,” she said, “canning, cooking, keeping the house in order, and could cut and house tobacco with the best of them.
Both sets of my grandparents were loving and devoted to each other and their children. All these positive qualities gave me a drive to work for what I want in this world, and never give up.”
She graduated from HCHS in 1980, and married at age 18. She worked at Greenwood Animal Hospital, in Hawesville, and then began working as a secretary at the Cabinet for Families & Children.
“At the age of 36,” she said, “I knew something was missing.
Some call it a midlife crisis, I call it an awakening. I chose to go back to school, and began college at Owensboro Community College, then went to Brescia University, graduating with my Bachelor of Social Work, in 2003.”
She then completed her Master’s in Social Work in 2004, and continued working at the Cabinet. She was hired by Lighthouse Counseling Agency in 2007, and was working both jobs. She then retired from the Cabinet, in 2008.
After passing her licensure exam with the state of KY, Barbie was given the ability to practice independently. She supervises others in earning their licensure, and takes continuing education courses regularly. She also serves on the Family Resource and Youth Services Center Board at North Hancock Elementary.
She always roots for the underdog.
She follows that same pattern of behavior in her therapeutic practice as she does in life. “Those who think they cannot overcome depression,” she said, “I say, ‘Let’s watch you shine.’ If you think it’s too late to go to college, ‘Nonsense. Let’s get going.’ If you feel like no one cares, let’s get to the root of those feelings.
Everyone deserves happiness, and those that live their lives to hate, or doom or gloom, you’re missing out on a beautiful world. Regardless of our beliefs, we don’t have to agree with each other, but love each other instead of the hate that is pulling our communities apart. We all deserve happiness, but better yet, our children deserve better role models.”
She said that with the month of April being National Child Abuse Prevention Month, that it is time to step back, and look at how our lives have changed dramatically over the past few years.
“Trauma is trauma,” Barbie said. “There is not a clear-cut picture of it. Trauma can be any event that occurs in a child’s life that prevents them from moving forward, living their best life. It is essential we talk to our kids, and let them know they are loved and have support. It saddens me to see the changes we now have to take to protect our children.
As a child, I could walk through any door in my school unlocked. Children could play in the summer between neighbors’ homes without tight supervision. Regardless of how we try to not have the negative impact of the world affect our world, here we are.
Hancock County has the same concerns for the children, adolescents and adults that live within its rural community as other larger ones. Don’t be fooled into thinking differently, or that it can never happen here. Being pro-active is best, instead of denial.
Currently, I provide therapeutic services for children to adults in our office. I am blessed to be fortunate enough to advocate for those that do not have a voice, listen to those that need to communicate their fears, or be a voice for those that feel they have none.”
Barbie said she is able to be a support and a strength for others, because of her roots, and being taught to be strong and never quit. “Often, my job makes me cry,” she said, “but then it makes me laugh. The courage of others and their experiences often amazes me. The blessings that I am given by those I connect with, far outweigh the challenges of my job.”
In her spare time, she enjoys the beautiful views from her back deck on the farm where she and her husband live in the county. “I love being able to stretch my arms, not hearing traffic, and having privacy. I love hearing crickets at night and the bullfrogs in our lake,” she said, “My husband and I continue to speak to our granddaughter about the positives and challenges of living on a farm.
My idea of relaxation is the simple life, observing our goats or cattle in the field, listening to the incredible sounds of nature that surround our home, or enjoying a hot cup of coffee in the afternoon to decompress after our workday, with my husband.”
She said she loves their fainting goats, and Dexter cattle, a smaller breed from Ireland. “We really like our Dexter cattle,” she said. “We have our dogs, and we have a huge lake with a lot of catfish.”
Their 2 children were born when Barbie was 27 & 30, and she said that it was the best choice of her life in becoming a mom. “Regardless of what book I read or advice I took,” she said, “sometimes I just had to be there for them. I parented my kids making them aware – I may not always like what you do, but I will always love you. I couldn’t be prouder.”
For more information about Lighthouse Counseling Services, Inc., go to the website: www.lcsinc.org. It is faith-based, and co-owned by James Messer, Pastor at Morningside Cumberland Presbyterian Church, in Evansville.
“That’s the wonderful thing about our agency,” Barbie said. “We can freely talk about God. We can pray if we want to. I want people to know, that is our foundation.” To report any kind of abuse of an adult or child, she said to call 270-651-0287.
To make an appointment at Lighthouse, call 270-689-0073.
At the Hawesville office, which has been open since March of 2021, they offer mental health treatment. The rest of the treatments, she said, are offered at their Owensboro location, such as substance abuse counseling, and battery intervention programs for males and females.