Harvey Cedars Resident Honored for Inspirational Health Service

Oct 25, 2017
Leelee Devenney

For her lifetime of community service and her continuing commitment to helping others, Leelee Devenney of Harvey Cedars was honored by Hackensack Meridian Health at its second annual “Women ROCK” event. The symposium, which was held at the Asbury Park Convention Center on Saturday, Oct. 21, featured seminars and activities on women’s health and lifestyles. Devenney was inducted into the “Women Who Rock Hall of Fame.” Awardees are selected as “women who truly inspire us: mind, body, and spirit.”

As a young, aspiring nurse in 1965, Devenney joined the Peace Corps, heeding the call first put forth by President Kennedy to create an “army, made up of civilians who would volunteer their time and skills to travel to underdeveloped nations to assist them in any way they could.”

After three months of study, including learning to speak Farsi, she was sent to Afghanistan, where she helped establish a school for young women to learn nursing and midwifery skills. There she met a fellow Peace Corps volunteer, Bob Devenney. They spent three years working in Afghanistan, then returned home to Philadelphia and were married. In 1969, they returned to Peace Corps service in Afghanistan, bringing with them their 10-month-old son.

The couple completed another year and a half of service in Afghanistan, then returned to the U.S., settling in the Philadelphia area. While they raised their family, Leelee resumed her nursing career, going on to spend 30 years as a staff nurse and head nurse in emergency rooms at two suburban Philadelphia hospitals. 

Retirement to the Jersey Shore, where the Devenneys have had a home in Harvey Cedars since 1977 and have lived full time since 2006, did not stop Leelee from helping others. Working with Interfaith Health and Support Services of Southern Ocean County, she regularly does chores for home-bound seniors, including shopping and driving them to doctors’ appointments.

In accepting her award, Leelee said, “I have been very fortunate to have the life that I have had. I marvel at the people who struggle and continue to give.”

She can be seen most mornings taking an early, brisk walk down the Boulevard in Harvey Cedars. When you see her, be sure to shout out: “You ROCK!”

— John Imperiale

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