"I've always really enjoyed barbershop music and Don Jackson, who I go to church with ... he encouraged me to go to practices and see if it was something that I might enjoy doing," Devine said, adding other local members of the chorus include Don Jackson, Dave Elvers, Mac McKenzie and Frank Biscardi. "And I did that and my joining the group went from there.
"Our biggest performance of the year is we normally do three Christmas concerts at the Cobb County Civic Center in Marietta and those normally fall on the second weekend in December. It's two concerts on Saturday and one concert on Sunday. Over and above that Christmas concert, we normally would perform around a half dozen times a year, pretty much in state."
Previously performing at Cartersville's Grand Theatre, The Big Chicken Chorus will return to Bartow County Saturday, taking the stage at 7 p.m. at the Clarence Brown Conference Center, 5450 State Route 20.
"One of the reasons that I am involved in supporting the shelter is I like the way that they operate their business," said Devine, who is in his third year serving on the Good Neighbor's board of directors. "It's an old cliche but it's not a hand out, it's a hand up because the shelter provides life skills, if you will, to the people that stay there. So it's more than a meal and a room. It's a place that people can go and learn the skills that they need to be good citizens in the community."
Since forming in 1996, the nonprofit has served more than 4,100 people. Last year, the 4,600-square-foot facility that was built in 2001 assisted 329 individuals, of whom 211 were men. While they are housed, Good Neighbor's guests are required to find a job within four weeks, and the shelter's staff helps them establish savings, focus on problem-solving skills and chart out future housing options.
With an annual budget of $225,000, the Good Neighbor raises about $180,000 per year through special events. Looking to generate at least $6,000 through The Big Chicken Chorus' concert, the nonprofit will put the benefit's proceeds toward its general operating fund.
"We are still full to the brim now," Good Neighbor Executive Director Jessica Mitcham said, referring to the influx of homeless guests staying at the shelter. "We have had in 2011 -- three out of the five months we've been at 100-percent capacity. That had never happened, not a single time, prior to 2011 and now it's happened three times in five months.
"We know unemployment statistics for Bartow County are pretty challenging and so we have guests that were in the workforce and barely making ends meet and the minute they lost the job they weren't able to afford their housing. So then they needed someplace to go while they looked for new employment. I'm amazed by some of the jobs that our guests are getting right now. They are being tremendously successful. But when you're living paycheck to paycheck, you lose your apartment quickly. So you need somewhere to go while you get started on the new job and save some money to afford to get back into new housing."
Tickets for The Big Chicken Chorus' concert are $15 per person and are available prior to the event at three Cartersville sites: Good Neighbor, 110 Porter St.; Styles Collision Center, 1261 West Ave.; and Jax Supply, 19 S. Gilmer St. For more information, call the homeless shelter at 770-607-0610.