After years of being a “YMCA rat,” regular racquetball games had placed excessive strain on John Murphy's knees, so he decided to put his extra time and organizational and people skills gleaned from 40 years in the rigging and cranes industry in Chicago to good use.
In 2017 he began working with All Faiths Food Bank, which successfully distributed 8.75 million meals to hungry adults and kids in Sarasota and DeSoto counties in 2018. Murphy doesn’t call what he does volunteering, he calls it filling a need. “I feel better about that because it’s about [the clients] and not about me volunteering to do something. It’s something I want to do,” says Murphy.
Murphy was named Sarasota All Faiths’ 2019 Volunteer of the Year in the Registration category. He registers clients at several All Faiths’ mobile food distribution sites and interviews new clients, so he can determine their level of need and ensure they can get food from locations that are easy for them to get to.
In just the first half of 2019, Murphy had volunteered 725 hours. Besides his registration role, he managed the volunteer component of All Faiths’ partnership with the Baltimore Orioles. In exchange for providing volunteers as parking attendants for the spring training games, All Faiths received a percentage of parking proceeds equaling $21,000.
Empathy is the main tool of the trade for Murphy, who’s thankful for the friends he’s made throughout his volunteerism. His co-volunteers say he makes clients feel at ease by inspiring camaraderie and trust. “The important thing is to keep them calm,” Murphy says. “And always reassure them. I think once you do that, they know you and they know they’re going to be squared away and taken care of. No matter what their language is and what their situation’s like.”