2018 Friend of the Green Award Presented to Denise Trevenen

The Gunnery celebrated the start of the holiday season on Saturday, November 17, by opening its campus to the community for its annual Town Party, featuring the presentation of the 2018 Friend of the Green Award. This year, the school honored local attorney and community leader Denise DeVault Trevenen. The award is presented annually by The Gunnery to honor an individual or group that has contributed to the well-being of the town of Washington through their volunteer efforts.

Head of School Peter Becker welcomed the nearly 275 guests in attendance, noting that he had the pleasure of serving with Trevenen on the board of Washington Montessori School. He described her as an “extraordinary person” and an “unsung hero” in the community,” who has dedicated her time and expertise to helping many local organizations and individuals in need. “But the way in which she helped you was never looking for recognition. She did it quietly and professionally and with love,” Becker said.

“Friend is a title many people can claim when it comes to Denise,” said Pat Werner, who retired as Washington Montessori’s Head of School on July 1, after 43 with the school. Werner spoke about Trevenen’s dedication and grit, and “the really significant role she plays in our community and our lives.” She recalled that when Trevenen was planning to step down from the Washington Montessori board in 2008, she asked Werner to let her know if there was anything she could ever do for the school. Werner said the last thing Trevenen probably expected was to be asked to serve as chairman of the board, and Trevenen nodded and smiled in agreement. Trevenen held that post from 2009 to 2012 and remains an active member of the board today, although her children have long since graduated from the school.

“She is one of those people who is able to find common ground among multiple constituencies. That’s a rare thing,” said Pels Matthews, Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Judy Black Memorial Park and Gardens.

Trevenen is President of the Washington Park Foundation (WPF), and one of the “bold originals” who, along with Barbara Bouyea, Peter Talbot, Michael Ackerman and the late John Millington, led the transformation of the former Texaco gas station in Washington Depot. When the Judy Black was first proposed, “there was controversy at the start,” Matthews said, but Trevenen “stuck through it.”

“She brings a real passion to what she does. I can think of no one better to be recognized by us as an engaged citizen, and this country needs engaged citizens right now,” Matthews said

A longtime Washington resident and principal at Trevenen & Coploff in Washington Depot, Trevenen has been actively engaged in the community, dedicating her time and expertise to organizations that support the town and surrounding communities. In addition to serving on the boards of the Washington Montessori School and as President of The Washington Park Foundation, she is Counsel to the Warren Land Trust and has been a board member of Steep Rock Association since 2014. She also served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Gunn Memorial Library & Museum from 2001 to 2007, and was a board member of the New Milford Hospital Community Foundation and the Washington Citizens’ Scholarship Foundation (now the Washington Scholarship Fund).

Among her professional affiliations, Trevenen is a member of the Connecticut Bar Association’s Real Property Section and the Litchfield County Bar Association and serves on the Board of Directors of CATIC, which provides services to attorneys, insured lenders and home-buyers, and other members of the real estate community. She and her husband, John, have two children, Andrew and Sydney.

After accepting the award from Becker, Trevenen recalled that 27 years ago, she was living in Santa Barbara, California, when John Trevenen, who was her boyfriend at the time, invited her to fly with him to Connecticut, where he had a job interview. “We took the red-eye out of LA and landed in Hartford, rented a car and started driving to Washington, Connecticut,” she said, recalling that along the way, they stopped for a cup of coffee. By then, she was ready to fly back to California. “I stayed in Connecticut for less than 24 hours and my boyfriend never returned home,” she said.

He took the job, as general manager of The Mayflower Inn in Washington, and she ultimately agreed to join him, but under one condition: they would only stay for two years. Of course, she and Trevenen married, started a family, bought a house. She earned her law degree and started working in town. “I was in love with Washington, Connecticut. This town became our home with the most amazing friends. I honestly can’t imagine living anywhere else.”

Trevenen went on to note that Washington runs on volunteers. Looking around the room, she said she recognized the faces of many volunteers who had served the town in one capacity or another. “You are the glue that holds this community together,” she told them. “I am accepting this award on behalf of every single one of you.”

Trevenen also acknowledged the Washington Park Foundation, and the members of its Board of Directors, who were all in attendance. “We all owe Judy Black a huge thank you for her incredible generosity and gift to each of us as she backed the development and completion of the park, a perfect example of creating one’s legacy. I want to thank all of you who have supported the park, whether you are a donor or attend our programs – or better yet, both,” she said.

“It is a privilege to give back to this town, to a community that has given me and my family so much over the years,” she said, sharing her favorite quote, by George Bernard Shaw, which sits on her desk. She asked Becker to read it to all in attendance:

“I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live.

I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

The Friend of the Green Award is presented annually by The Gunnery to honor an individual or group that has contributed to the well-being of the town of Washington through their volunteer efforts.

Past recipients of the Friend of the Green Award have included: the Lake Waramaug Association, accepted by co-presidents Anne Block and Gail Berner (2017); the Washington Lions Club, accepted by John Quist, president (2016); Sheila Anson, Washington’s Town Clerk and Vice Chairman of the Parks and Recreation Commission (2015); Institute of American Indian Studies (2014); JoAnne Torti of the After School Arts Program (2013); The Washington Fire Department and Washington Town Hall employees, accepted by First Selectman Mark Lyon and Fire Chief Mark Showalter (2012); Kirsten Peckerman, Steep Rock Association board member (2011), and Phil and Gretchen Farmer, board members of the Gunn Memorial Library and Museum (2010).

In the spirit of giving back to the community, guests who attended the Town Party were asked to contribute food or monetary donations for the Warren/Washington Food Bank. Those donations were delivered this week, just in time for Thanksgiving.

The Gunnery

gps address: 22 Kirby Road, Washington, CT 06793
mail address: 99 Green Hill Road, Washington, CT 06793
tel: 860-868-7334
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Founded in 1850 by abolitionist, educator, and outdoorsman Frederick Gunn, The Gunnery is a coeducational college preparatory boarding and day school for students in grades 9 through 12/post-graduate. Dedicated teacher-mentor-coaches challenge students to reach their full potential in a home-like setting where character and citizenship are valued as much as intellect and achievement. Individualized attention and high expectations help young learners develop not only the skills and confidence they will need in college, but also the moral compass and love of learning that will serve them well in life. The school attracts ambitious, academically curious students who will both shine as unique individuals and thrive as contributing members of a deeply connected community. By the time they graduate, Gunnery students have become well rounded, grounded young adults with a sharpened sense of who they are and who they want to become.