Receiving a donation at Two Fish Food Market are, from left: Chandler Robbins, associate pastor , and Dave Barkalow, pastor of First United Methodist Church of PSJ; Cindy and Brendan Murphy, and Vicki Abrams, director of Caring Ministries of First United Methodist Church of PSJ. [ Two Fish Food Market | Contributed ]
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Murphy Family Foundation addresses key needs in Gulf County

What’s not to like about Gulf County? Beautiful beaches to frolic in, great green spaces protecting wildlife habitat, a bay that is an unparalleled estuary and wonderful fishing spot, great food and shopping in downtown Port St. Joe.

Many come to visit and some come to stay, or become part-time residents. 

“When you become a resident, you see not only the wonderful natural beauty of Gulf County but the generosity of the citizens of Gulf County and the needs of their less fortunate neighbors, that they try to help,” said Brendan Murphy who moved here with wife Cindy in 2004.

They spend about two-thirds of their time living here and the rest in their home in Atlanta.

“We began getting involved with the Coastal Community Association, the Lion’s Club and several other groups, and through them, we began to realize the need to work to retain the beauty of our community but we also realized the great poverty and needs in the county,” he said.

Murphy said data shows Gulf County has an 18% poverty rate, according to the U.S. Census, higher than the state’s average poverty rate of 11.5%. “Food insecurity, housing issues, and disabilities or medical conditions make it very difficult for many families to feel secure in their lives,” Murphy said. “Many are one paycheck or one repair bill away from being able to pay their rent or other bills.”

In 2018, the Murphys talked with their three adult children and their spouses about what they could do in Gulf County, and they started the Murphy Family Foundation. “We realized that our donations could make a much bigger difference in Gulf County than in a large city like Atlanta,” Cindy Murphy said.

The Murphy family has identified organizations in Gulf County with great track records in helping their clients and providing not just a hand-out but a hands-up.

Among the organizations they donate to is The Christian Community Development Fund Inc., a 501(c)(3) that provides home renovations at no cost for Gulf County and Mexico Beach low to very low-income elderly and disabled homeowners. 

“These types of donations provide much needed matching monies which allow us to receive other grants,” said Diana Burkett, executive director. In January the Murphy Family Foundation presented CCDF with a $10,000 donation.

Presenting a donation at the Senior Center are Cindy and Brendan Murphy, with Tammy Farmer, advisory board member. [ Gulf County Senior Citizens Association | Contributed ]

Having a better quality of life is another focus of the foundation. Over the years they have supported the Senior Center which brings over 60 senior citizens together through having congregate meals or delivering meals to them at home. “We provide seniors, who would often be isolated in their homes, with a community that allows them to socialize and an organization that cares about their well-being,” said Eddie Fields, executive director. “The Murphy Family Foundation’s donation of $7,500 this year will allow us to finance the meals and help us in transportation of our clients. What a blessing.”

The foundation is also concerned about food insecurity in the community. Two Fish Food Market, operated by the First United Methodist Church of Port St. Joe, is providing meals for over 250 families each month. “Our members come twice a month and can choose the food they want just like a grocery store. The amount of food they can receive is based on their family size.,” said Vicki Abrams, director of the Caring Ministries of FUMC. “Being able to supplement their grocery money by our groceries means they have additional monies to put towards unexpected bills or the monthly bills such as gas or utilities.” 

Two Fish was able to purchase all of their food last year through cash donations. Their building and part-time employee are paid through revenues made by The Care Closet, another mission of FUMC. 

“We have been blessed by the Murphy Family Foundation in their continued support and donations of Two Fish,” said Abrams. “Their $10,000 donation will go towards buying 50,000 pounds of good quality food for our members.”

Supporting the Women’s Diagnostic Center at Sacred Heart Gulf are Cindy and Brendan Murphy with Kelly Beach, administrator and chief nursing officer, center. [ Ascension Sacred Heart Gulf | Contributed ]

The Murphy Family Foundation has also supported the Sacred Heart Gulf Women’s Diagnostic Center with total donations of $60,000 from 2023 and this year. “We are committed to investing in our community and hospital,” the Murphys said. “With this gift, we want to ensure every woman in Gulf County has access to the latest, life-saving technology.”

Adrienne Maygarden, president of the Sacred Heart Foundation, said “we extend our deepest thanks to The Murphy Family Foundation for their investment in the women of Gulf County, which will change lives and change futures.”

Cindy Murphy noted that “We have been financially blessed in our families and we feel that we need to share those blessings.” But every size donation is valuable to these organizations, $25, $50, all go a long way towards helping our neighbors.” 

The Murphy Family Foundation helps many smaller local fund-raising efforts like the Sheriff’s Christmas Toy Drive and the Easter Basket/Food Drive, all of which have a positive impact in this small rural community. Their challenge to others is for all to share their talents, time and fiscal abilities and to reach out to help others in need in our community through our community organizations.

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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