**First in a holiday series of social fabric weavers in my community, Phoenixville, PA. For the next 12 days we’ll meet a vibrant array of people who’ve discovered the sweet spot where their gifts meet the worlds needs. Folks who remind us that we are the change we’ve been waiting for.
Follow along at #12Daysofweavers and tag your favorite weaver 👇🏽**
When Richard “Gump” Devaney’s beloved wife Pat passed away, he lost more than just his partner. “I felt that I no longer had a purpose in life without her. So I was searching for something to get my mind off of the grieving process and to also find a meaningful purpose in life.” As a retired high school janitor, he was used to working behind the scenes, and had developed an eye to see beauty where others might miss it. He began taking pictures of his hometown and posting them on Facebook page called “You know You’re From Phoenixville When.” He soon became the page administrator and through his tender curation, breathed life into the site.
At the time when the community had lost its daily newspaper, Gump’s page filled a void. It quickly grew to over 15,000 active members—a significant percentage of their small town—and became a key source of community news.
Through the page, Gump met his best friend and unofficial side kick, Nancy McGuigan. Nancy joined Gump as a volunteer administrator.
The duo has become a fixature around town, serving as de facto beat reporters. From Blobfest to Dogwood Fest to Food Truck Fest, from vintage clothing markets to farmers markets, Phoenixville is as quirky as it is active. No matter the occasion, you’ll find Gump and Nancy with their cameras in the backgrounds, capturing the moments that make up our lives together.
As for Gump, he still misses his wife every day. But his efforts have given him renewed purpose. “Becoming more involved has given me a real purpose of making people happy, while also being a good source of information for Phoenixville,” he reflects on his decade leading the group. “It’s given me a real meaningful reason to live again. I believe that we all need to feel that we have a purpose in life. This work gives me hope from within.”