Fulfilling a Catholic Legacy

Our History

The Barry Robinson Center traces its history to 1924 when Catholic and Norfolk businessman Frederick Robinson died, leaving a will stipulating the creation of a Catholic charitable trust that would “…found, erect, and equip… a Home and School of Arts and Trades for Orphan Boys.” By the time suitable land was purchased and buildings were erected in 1933, the need for orphanages had diminished significantly, and The James Barry Robinson Home for Boys became primarily a small Catholic middle school. Although it was a Catholic school run by priests living on the grounds from 1933-1977, Mr. Robinson’s will expressly stated that “nothing herein contained shall be construed as preventing orphan boys of other faiths from entering the said Home and School.” Over the years the student body was a small but diverse group, consisting of boarders and day students, Catholics and non-Catholics. Most students came from Norfolk but some came from as far away as Roanoke, Virginia. The school served boys facing various challenges. Some of the boys were orphans. Some had lost a parent. Some boys’ families were experiencing financial or other difficulties. Some boys were simply not flourishing in their homes or schools, and it was thought they would benefit from a smaller, more structured school setting.

In the early years the school’s location was rural and contained a working farm on the grounds. A tenant farmer lived on the grounds and ran the farm, but the students had opportunities to learn about, and participate in, farm work. Even during the Depression there was abundant fresh food, and the students are reported to have eaten well.

In the early 1960s the 11th and 12th grades were added, and the school produced its first graduating class in 1962. The total high school enrollment peaked around 100 students and while relatively small, fielded strong football and basketball teams that for a time competed successfully with much bigger schools.

By the mid-1970s the school reached a point where to remain viable it needed to become substantially bigger and more of a traditional college preparatory school serving middle and upper middle class students. The Catholic charitable trust carefully assessed its options and instead decided to turn its attention and resources “…to serve the special needs of boys who have experienced difficulty in performing in an acceptable manner in their schools and homes.” This new venture was named The James Barry-Robinson Institute. From 1977-1986, it served boys ages 12-18 who were experiencing emotional, behavioral, educational or social problems, and were in need of special services not currently being provided by their schools or communities.

In 1986 the Catholic Charitable Trust entered into a joint venture agreement with a local children’s hospital to expand the James Barry-Robinson Institute. The expanded residential treatment center was renamed The Barry Robinson Center. The three remaining beautiful, historic colonial-style 1933 buildings were renovated and five new buildings (3 dormitories, a multi-use activities building with a regulation size gym, and a new cafeteria and infirmary) were added, allowing the new Center to provide services to girls and boys ages 6 to 18 in a 72-bed setting.

When the 20-year joint venture agreement came to a natural and successful close in 2006, the Catholic charitable trust again became solely responsible for operating The Barry Robinson Center, which had grown into a behavioral health system for youth with a 72-bed psychiatric residential treatment facility, in-home counseling services, therapeutic foster care, independent living, and prevention services.

A decision was made to seek re-establishing a link to the Catholic heritage that had existed from 1933-1986. Returning to its roots as a faith-based organization was seen as a means of enhancing the behavioral healthcare services by directing services to the whole person, which includes psychological, physical, intellectual, social, and spiritual dimensions. The Center developed a set of Core Values to guide its actions and began developing ways to enhance its attention to clients’ spiritual needs. In 2007, Bishop DiLorenzo, the Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Richmond, recognized The Barry Robinson Center as a private institution that is Catholic. In restoring its historic tie to the Catholic Church, the Center rejoins countless other faith-based behavioral health organizations across America with similar histories. While directing enhanced attention to its clients’ spiritual needs, the Center’s services will transcend denominational distinctions while respectfully bringing together staff members and clients of diverse faiths and backgrounds to accomplish the Center’s mission of improving the lives of children.

1924 Norfolk businessman Frederick Robinson dies, leaving a will stipulating the creation of a Catholic charitable trust for orphan boys.
1933 The James Barry Robinson Home for Boys, a Catholic school, is dedicated on December 8th.
1934 – 1977 The Catholic boarding school is opened to boys of all faiths and is operated by priests living on the grounds.
Early 1960’s The 11th and 12th grades are added. The school produces its first graduating class in 1962. Enrollment peaks around 100 students.
1977-1986 The school becomes The James Barry-Robinson Institute. This organization serves boys ages 12-18 who are experiencing emotional, behavioral, educational or social problems.
1986 The James Barry Robinson Home for Boys Trust enters into a joint venture agreement with a local hospital to expand services. The Institute is renamed The Barry Robinson Center. New buildings allow services for girls and boys ages 6 to 18 in a 72-bed setting.
2006 The Trust assumes sole responsibility for operating The Barry Robinson Center, which has grown into a behavioral health system for youth with a 72-bed psychiatric residential treatment facility, in-home counseling services, therapeutic foster care, independent living, and prevention services.
2007 The Most Reverend Francis X. DiLorenzo, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, recognizes The Barry Robinson Center as an independent Catholic institution. In restoring its original tie to the Catholic Church, the Center rejoins other faith-based behavioral health organizations across America with similar history.

Core Values

We believe that compassionate, high quality behavioral healthcare services can best be provided by being faithful to our Core Values of respect, justice, compassion, integrity, quality and confidentiality. The Center’s Core Values are based upon a Catholic identity that is a vital link to the Catholic heritage established by the Center’s original benefactor, a Catholic businessman who left his estate to “…found, establish, erect, and equip… a Home and School of Arts and Trades for Orphan Boys.”

The Center’s services transcend denominational distinctions, and the Center welcomes all youth in need of its services and all staff willing to be committed to the Center’s Core Values.

Respect
We respect the dignity of all people because we believe human life is sacred and each person has inherent dignity. We provide behavioral healthcare services to the whole person, which includes psychological, physical, intellectual, social, and spiritual dimensions. We respect and promote the dignity and integrity of family. We respect the dignity and value of our work and demonstrate that respect in fulfilling our responsibilities.

Justice
We respect and promote the rights of our clients, staff, and all with whom we come in contact. We support and promote the right of individuals to participate in decision-making regarding their care. We advocate for the needs of youth suffering from emotional and behavioral difficulties.

Compassion
We believe that effective care occurs in a compassionate, trusting relationship that requires an awareness of another’s suffering combined with the desire to relieve it. We are committed to providing care in safe, supportive, nurturing ways and environments.

Integrity
We believe that all our actions should reflect integrity and honesty. In our dedication to always doing the right thing, our thoughts, feelings and actions must be in concert with these Core Values.

Quality
We are committed to providing high quality services as a reflection of our belief that human life is sacred and each person has inherent dignity and deserves respect. Quality care is appropriate to clients’ needs and is provided with the least restrictive interventions. Quality care is provided through a thoughtful, comprehensive evaluation and plan of care. Quality care meets or exceeds established internal and external standards. Quality care involves evaluation processes that contribute to continuous improvement.

Confidentiality
We realize that in our work as behavioral healthcare providers, we are entrusted with important and sensitive personal information, and we seek in all our actions to demonstrate, within the dictates of the law, the most profound respect for the confidentiality of that information.

Equal Opportunity

The Barry Robinson Center agrees that no child shall be discriminated against because of race, religion, color, sex, age, handicap or national origin. Any individual who has concerns about client care and safety at BRC, that have not been addressed by BRC, is encouraged to call the BRC Compliance Office. If concerns remain unresolved after contacting the BRC Compliance Office, individuals may contact The Joint Commission.
The Barry Robinson Center is an equal opportunity employer. The Barry Robinson Center does not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex or ancestry or on the basis of age or physical or mental handicap unrelated to the ability to perform the work required.

The Barry Robinson Center is a Drug Free Environment.