Volunteer Spotlight: Chip Devenger

Wed, May 08, 2024 at 11:10AM

Volunteer Spotlight: Chip Devenger

For about one month a year, usually in April, Chip Devenger transforms himself from rural, northeastern county Vermont farmer about 30 miles south of Quebec, to elite member of the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse Volunteer Corps. And as such, we want to feature him primarily as the great volunteer he is, but also as a good example of how the PILH Volunteer Corp’s flexible staffing makes it easy for part-time resident- volunteers to spend quality time interacting with our National Historic Landmark visitors, old and young. Chip chooses the month of April at Ponce Inlet because as he says, “I get to add another month to my short Vermont summers. My home, an old farm house in the town of Sutton is 220 years old, and my family bought it in 1922 for $300. The main house and my three barns are all red, as they should be! I know. I painted all of them.”

“I graduated from high school in 1967, and my graduation class had 120 students in it, from all of the six elementary schools in different towns in the area that sent students to it,“ he said. It was a small regional school district. He chose Loch Haven University in Pennsylvania for his college degree, and began teaching soon after graduation. “I taught fourth grade as the teaching-principal for five years, and eventually taught sixth, seventh, and eighth grades in all subjects. I even taught Home Economics,” he chuckled. In fact, he must have been quite the teacher, because in 1980 he was honored by being named “Vermont School Teacher of the Year.” Chip retired from teaching in 2003.

School teaching and volunteering was not his only contribution to society and service. Chip was a member of the Vermont National Guard and specialized in teaching fellow guardsmen Morse Code, communication equipment and ground radar. Since Vermont is the second smallest state as far as population, it is no surprise he reports that his National Guard Unit also consisted of his father, uncle and other relatives. One of his many contributions to his National Guard unit is that over the years Chip successfully tutored many fellow guardsmen for their GED or General Educational Development, a high school equivalency test that measures knowledge and skills acquired during four years of high school. It is a credential equivalent to a traditional high school diploma.

In addition, over the years, Chip has been appointed as a Guardian ad Litem for eleven children. The guardian ad litem is a person selected by the court to look after and protect the interests of someone who is unable to take care of themselves, and is usually a minor child. They are selected to a specific case and their role is watch over the child’s interests and ensure that those interests are protected. They act as fact finders for the court making recommendations on what is best for the child.

Now, let’s get this out in front. Yes, while Vermont is indeed far from the ocean. Nevertheless, it does have lighthouses. The half-a-dozen light stations are on the eastern Vermont side of Lake Champlain, part of the international waterway connecting the St. Lawrence and Hudson Rivers. OK, yes, there are six more lights on the west side of the lake in New York State.

In addition to all his other good works, Chip chose the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse to volunteer at because of “its “significance as a National Historic Landmark, a flexible volunteering scheduling that meets my needs, and its welcoming and affable volunteer corps.”

“Chip is a very welcome addition to our Volunteer Corps. He has and engaging personality and is a favorite of both our visitor-guests, and the other volunteers. He is a quick learner and frequently will stay after a special program is concluded to talk with our visitors. His sense of humor and positive approach are a model for our other volunteers. I wish I had him for the other eleven months,” said Ponce Inlet Lighthouse Programs Manager Zach Hopple.

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