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Kingsport's Iverson has been encouraging others for 50-plus years

Suzi McKee • Jul 18, 2018 at 4:45 PM


When Betty Iverson’s mother died, she was just a young girl who immediately stepped in and helped care for the family. “I’ve been organizing all of my life,” Betty explained. “It’s one of the gifts that I’ve been given which has served me well throughout my life.”

After she graduated from college, the Holston Baptist Association was looking for a young adult to work with youth in four counties here in Northeast Tennessee, so Betty applied for and got the job. Her duties included church development activities and directing the youth camps which she did with a passion.

Betty attended seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. And with a passion for encouraging and helping others, she agreed to direct the Kingsport Girls Club one summer - but she found herself enjoying the job so much that she stayed 12 years. Betty was the first executive director of Girls Club which is now Girls Inc. in Kingsport. Last year, Girls Inc. celebrated its 50th anniversary here in Kingsport.

“I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the girls graduate from high school and accept our scholarships to college,” she shared. “I did whatever I could to encourage them.” Betty told them that they could do anything that they wanted to do with their lives. The result was a positive impact on many young lives in Kingsport. She even served three years on the National Board of Girls Club of America.

Girls Inc. has been in five different locations over the past 50 years. “Each move was better than the last one,” Betty continued, “and the last move was into the planned facility where it is now.”

After her tenure at Girls Club (Girls Inc.), Betty accepted at job at Kingsport Sheltered Workshop to train their executive director, and then she and husband Bob began to travel around the world. Her favorite destinations included Jerusalem, the Jordan River, and Athens. “I’m a student of the Scriptures so these places held a great interest for me because I’d studied about them,” she said.

Volunteer work has also played a large role in Betty’s life. She has volunteered at Family Promise, the Baptist Mission in Gibsontown, Hope Haven Mission, Contact Concern, and Holston Valley Medical Center. Betty served as president of the Auxiliary Executive Committee during her work at the hospital.

One of her recent projects was the 100-year history book for First Baptist Church of Kingsport, where she serves as historian. She has also been an ordained deacon, director of Women’s Work, and a Sunday school teacher for adults. Betty conducted the research for this amazing book herself and elicited the help of two friends for typing and layout. On the wall in the history room are the pictures of the 12 pastors who have served First Baptist Church. “I knew four of those pastors,” Betty explained, “and each of them brought unique talents to our congregation. It was a joy to learn more about each pastor and his tenure here with us.”

Betty’s advice to women today? “You are valuable. Do something to make a difference in society. You are smart, you are beautiful, and yes you can.”

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