Brendan and Cindy Murphy wanted to ignite a movement a couple of weeks ago when they presented $10,000 checks each to three local organizations devoted to the service of others.
The goal was two-fold: give back to the community they call home and set an example of philanthropy.
While the Murphy Family Foundation the couple founded typically prefers to work in the background, the Murphys chose to provide the typical donation-specific out-sized checks and grip-and-grin photos to put an additional spotlight on their effort.
“That is the only reason for doing this,” Brendan said during the photo shoots. “Cindy and I consider Port St. Joe and the Cape to be our home.
“There are deep pockets in this community and sometimes we have to bring enough attention to loosen them up a little.”
And, for the Murphys, who divide their time between Atlanta and Cape San Blas, it is all about community as they seek to keep the assistance, and those assisted, local.
“We like to support local,” Brendan said. “We hope to ignite more giving in the community.
Turns out, with that initial $30,000 to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, the Christian Community Development Fund and the South Gulf County Volunteer Fire Department, the Murphy Family Foundation was just getting started.
Improving lives for lower-income families
Brendan and Cindy announced last week that they are doubling down on their donation to the CCDF and hoping the community will help them double down again.
The Murphy Family Foundation donated another $10,000 to the CCDF with a huge bonus feature: they will also match other donations up to another $10,000.
“If we spur another $10,000 we will make the donation to the CCDF $20,000 versus $10,000,” Brendan said.
The CCDF performs home repairs and other odd jobs for those of low income or seniors.
The organization, under the leadership of Executive Director Diana Burkett, has provided tens of thousands of dollars worth of home repairs and renovations over more than a decade.
“As far as I am concerned, (Burkett) is an angel on Earth,” Brendan Murphy said.
And, at a time, post-Michael, when the work the CCDF does year-round is so badly needed, the donations will extend the organization’s reach.
The CCDF will use the funds, along with an increase in grant funding from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, to purchase materials needed to complete as many house projects as the agency can handle.
Burkett has volunteer teams working on cleaning and mold abatement in as many homes that can be rebuilt as possible.
Once the contractors the CCDF works with, also all local, deem a house in suitable shape to be ultimately rebuilt, the CCDF teams, primarily students from several colleges and churches, do the gritty stuff prior to the contractor getting to work.
Children will not miss Christmas
The Murphy Family Foundation, an annual supporter of the Gulf County Sheriff’s Office Toy Drive, is also stepping up with a $5,000 donation to the drive through the Coastal Community Association.
The CCA has teamed with the GCSO for years in spearheading the Christmas program and in the wake of Hurricane Michael the need has rarely been as pressing.
“They heard our plea to help give the children who have lost so much a Merry Christmas,” said CCA president Dr. Pat Hardman.
“The Murphys hope their example will spur others outside of Gulf County to step up to help this small rural community that has suffered so much loss through donations to local charities.”
The CCA is partnering with the Dyslexia Research Institute through its High School High Tech program in Port St. Joe, to enrich the lives of children this Christmas.
The goal is to serve 200-300 annually, though Hardman said this year the number of needy children without toys and with minimal clothing could top 1,000.
“Many are displaced, many have no homes or homes that are barely livable, while their parents struggle to survive daily to provide for them,” Hardman said.
“And the majority of the folks locally who generally support this annual drive may well be homeless themselves or are struggling to try to get their businesses going and make it day-to-day.”
That is why this year the CCA has decided to direct its clarion call for the children this Christmas outside the county, outside the “disaster zone.”
“That is why we so appreciate the Murphy Family Foundation’s generous gift,” Hardman said. “It will make a huge difference.”