Murphys uphold commitment to community

Jen Cowart
Posted 7/3/13

Community service is a family affair in the Murphy household in Cranston.

Alison Murphy, a junior at Cranston High School West, along with her younger sister Melissa, a sixth-grader at Garden …

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Murphys uphold commitment to community

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Community service is a family affair in the Murphy household in Cranston.

Alison Murphy, a junior at Cranston High School West, along with her younger sister Melissa, a sixth-grader at Garden City Elementary School, put community service top on their list of things to do. Recently, Alison, along with her mom Laura, spoke to Melissa’s fellow classmates at Garden City about how to make community service a priority in their lives as well.

“I first came in and spoke to the students about what community service is, why it’s important to help others and I gave them an example of a seesaw. You need to balance out the scale by helping people who are more needy than you are,” said Alison. “I spoke to them about all of the community service that Cranston West does and I told them about all of the types of community service that I personally do.”

Once Murphy had introduced the concept of community service to the students at Garden City School, she, along with her mom and Garden City’s principal, Dr. Tonianne Napolitano, decided that a more in-depth presentation would be appropriate for the students.

Alison invited representatives from The Tomorrow Fund, the Providence Ronald McDonald House (RMH), and Cranston’s Comprehensive Community Action Program (CCAP) to come in and speak to the students about each individual charity and what they could do to help out.

Napolitano was thrilled with the Murphy family’s initiative and interest in helping her students jump-start their own volunteerism.

“This Community Service Awareness Day was all the brainchild of Alison and her family,” Napolitano said. “The teachers were on board, and we’re excited to show the students that you don’t need to do community service just when you need credits or volunteer hours. They can do it because it’s a good thing to do to help others.”

The Murphy family has had experience helping out all of the groups who were speaking to the students that day and Alison explained to the students the types of things she likes to do when she volunteers.

“I’ve had experience with Ronald McDonald House. I’ve cooked dinners for the house for the past two years. I have brought cakes for Easter and I bake for them a lot,” Alison said.

She noted that as a student in the culinary program at the Cranston Area Career and Technical Center, she feels good about being able to use her culinary skills to help others.

“The families get back from the hospitals late and they have no time to really bake anything. They’re amazed that high school students want to give up their time to do this on a Friday night. But seeing how happy they are makes me feel happy, too,” she said.

Nicole Anderson of the Ronald McDonald House echoed Alison’s sentiments, explaining the services that RMH provides as well as the needs that volunteers can help with.

“We are there for people in a medical crisis, going through treatments at the hospitals,” she said. “There is so much that you as students and as schools can do to help us out. As a school, you can do pop tab collections from cans of soda or soup. Those tabs are recycled and we get 70 cents per pound. You can do a Wish List Drive and collect needed items on our wish list. You can do artwork to decorate the house,” Anderson said.

Joanne Gregory, the director of social services at CCAP on Doric Avenue in Cranston, listed some similar needs with which students could help out if they were looking for volunteerism ideas, even though their agency provides different services than RMH.

“We are a private, non-profit, social services agency committed to helping people in crisis. We provide health services, counseling and mental health services and social services. If things are OK in your own life, it may be hard to imagine people in need, but your relatives, your neighbors, they may need you,” said Gregory.

“Right in Cranston alone, there are 600 families who use our food bank. I would applaud all of you if you wanted to do a food drive. You get a great sense of satisfaction from helping those in need,” she said. “You’re going into high school soon, so please keep us in mind, but if you’re looking for things to do now, there’s food drives, hat and mitten drives, toy drives and even Adopt-a-Family drives.”

Barbara Ducharme, from The Tomorrow Fund, heralded the work of The Tomorrow Fund in helping families of children going through cancer treatments.

“We give a daily stipend to all families whose children are going through inpatient treatment. We help out with food, with parking, bill paying and we host summer camps. We also have a scholarship program for patients and former patients to help them with college. Once you’re a Tomorrow Fund kid, you’re always a Tomorrow Fund kid,” Ducharme said.

She spoke to the students about how they can help out, by participating in some of the fundraising walks such as The Tomorrow Fund Stroll, held in Garden City each year. There are also ideas listed on The Tomorrow Fund website (www.tomorrowfund.org/pages/getinvolved.php) for ways in which students can volunteer their services, including: collecting pennies, running raffles, bake sales, hop-a-thons and dance-a-thons, car washes, bake sales, and dress down days. Following the presentations by the various organizations, the students were given the opportunity to visit the tables set up by each organization and speak to the representatives there about the opportunities to volunteer with them.

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