WEST CHESTER, PA — In 1972, fresh out of college with a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education, and a desire to support students with disabilities, Doug Bitner accepted a position at Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Pennsylvania.
In 2022, Bitner, who now works part time as a training specialist at Devereux Pennsylvania Children’s Services, celebrated 50 years with the organization.
“I have always enjoyed what I do. Being able to make a difference in a child’s life is truly special,” said Bitner. “I joined Devereux as a health and physical education teacher, and held that role for nearly 20 years. Since that time, I have served as a vocational teacher, residential supervisor, residential director, director of vocational programs, supervisor of special education, and now, training specialist. I have worked with some amazing people over the years, and I value my time at the organization.”
Devereux Pennsylvania Children’s Services Executive Director Patricia Hillis-Clark, Psy.D., noted, “Fifty years of service is a remarkable milestone. We want to thank Doug for all he has done for Devereux and the children, adolescents and young adults in our care. He continues to serve as an example for all those around him, with our mission always at the forefront of his mind.”
Building skills for success
Bitner credits Devereux with helping him enhance his knowledge and abilities, and further his career.
“Devereux has always fostered an environment of professional development and learning,” Bitner shared. “I went back to school to earn my master’s in special education with support from Devereux. I also earned my cooperative education and supervisory certifications, both of which allowed me to continue to advance within the organization.”
Reflecting on decades of service
Looking back on his five decades with Devereux, Bitner says he is most proud of the influence he had the organization’s vocational programs.
“Earlier in my career, we had a vibrant workshop called the Exceptional Craftsman where students made products, such as picnic tables, work benches and wood bins, and then sold them to the public,” Bitner explained. “We also had a cleaning service where students cleaned local retail stores and a museum. Our youth learned new skills, gave back to the community and improved their self-esteem. Later on, I helped develop vocational programs at another Devereux center.”
Helping others learn, grow
While Bitner has transitioned from teaching students to training team members on how to provide the safest and highest quality care, he is honored to have touched so many lives.
“A couple of former students kept in contact with me into their 50s, letting me know how they were doing,” Bitner noted. “Working at Devereux, I have had the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of those I serve. To see them grow and thrive is incredibly rewarding.”