Opinion: Barre shooting hits local DCF hard

On Aug. 7, 2015, the lives of those who work for the Department for Children and Families changed forever when our friend and colleague, Lara Sobel, was shot and killed outside the Barre building where she worked. The word of her murder took our breath away. It made some of us question whether we should continue working for DCF. It made our hearts skip a beat. It made us feel incredibly sad for her husband, two beautiful daughters, other family members, and the many friends she left behind. We continue to feel the pain of the members of the Barre District office who carry on without their beloved colleague.
As the director of the Middlebury DCF-Family Services office, I spent that first weekend thinking of every worker in the Barre office. I wondered how they could carry on when such an incomprehensible act of violence had been committed. I spent the weekend thinking of every worker in the Middlebury DCF Office. I reflected on how caring, committed, dedicated, selfless and unwavering they all are. It helped me realize how lucky I was to be a part of the Addison County community who helps to keep children and youth safe from abuse and neglect. It solidified my belief that the work that we do, at DCF-Family Services, is so incredibly important and that we must continue to do the work.
Our office has benefitted from the kind words and actions of many community partners since the murder and I offer thanks on behalf of my colleagues. We particularly want to thank:
• The Vermont State Police, Addison County Sheriff’s Department, and Middlebury Police Department for providing security in times of need.
• Staff at the Addison County Parent-Child Center for kind words, hugs and candy to feed our souls.
• Staff at the Counseling Service of Addison County, who met with our staff after the murder to offer support and guidance and assure us that we are making a difference and are not alone in this very rewarding and difficult work.
• Joyce-Marie and Gary Sabourin, who brought flowers from their garden to brighten our day, every week since Lara’s death.
• Easter Seals of Vermont and New Hampshire, who extended their support to our staff.
• The countless others who sent cards, emails and letters.
We continue to think about the Barre office every day and hold them close to our hearts. We continue to care deeply about the children, youth and families of Addison County. We will continue to make sure children and youth in Addison County are safe and healthy. We look forward to continuing to partner with families and community members to do so.
Thank you all sincerely for your support.
Andrea Grimm, Director
Department for Children and Families

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