NEWPORT — Melvidene Fortin, fondly called Mel, recalls being so shy when starting out in her career, that it was painful to ask anything of her employer. Eventually she applied for advancing positions at the Chittenden Bank in Newport, where she was her entire career.
She started out as what she refers to as “gopher” and worked her way up to bank manager before retiring in 1998.
Mel was an active member of the Newport Rotary Club before retiring, which was an entry into volunteerism for her. She was the first female president of the club and received a Paul Harris Fellowship award in 1998.
Missing those daily interactions with customers, Melvidene decided to look into a volunteer job in 2000, and what better place to run into the public, but being stationed in the hospital’s WindowBox gift shop?
There she has a chance to assist customers, catch up with friends, neighbors and previous bank customers, as well as calm down nervous dads who come by the shop while they are waiting for a child to be born up on the Maternal/Child floor.
In addition to her one day a week in the shop, Mel is the treasurer of both the hospital’s Auxiliary and of the gift shop. Revenue generated in the shop as well as fundraisers hosted by the Auxiliary come back to purchase equipment and fund programs for the hospital.
When asked how she has enjoyed volunteering at North Country Hospital for the last 17 years, Melvidene said, “You don’t ever hear of a volunteer not liking their job.”
Other activities that fill her time now include being an avid reader, working in the flower garden, spending time with children and grandchildren and watching hockey, particularly the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In her volunteer work Melvidene has held onto the Rotary motto, “service above self.” She added, “In this day and age our mindset is ‘what’s in it for me’ but when you volunteer you know that someone else is going to benefit from your service.”