Volunteer Spotlight: Michelle Murphy

Posted on 12/07/20

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Michelle Murphy became an AARP New Jersey volunteer in Spring 2017 after attending a wine and paint event in North Brunswick hosted by AARP. She was getting ready to retire after teaching pre-school and elementary children as well as middle school Spanish for a total of 40 years. She thought it would be a great way to incorporate more volunteer work into her life. 

At AARP New Jersey, Michelle has participated in a variety of community events, fairs, and festivals where she connects New Jersey residents to AARP resources and information. As a volunteer, she and her other team members participate in Lobby Days at the State Capitol and teach others in their community how to use smart phones. Michelle is also one of four AARP New Jersey team members who participate in the Volunteer Lead Trainer program. 

In 2018, Michelle won the AARP New Jersey MVP Award. And this year, Michelle won AARP New Jersey’s inaugural “Virtual Volunteer” award at AARP NJ’s first ever virtual volunteer recognition event. Due to the pandemic, AARP shifted its programming to provide virtual offerings that New Jerseyans could participate in from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Michelle played a key role in hosting virtual events and training others on using virtual platforms. She hopes the Zoom volunteer team will grow to meet the demand of more virtual events.

Michelle enjoys volunteering with AARP New Jersey because it makes her happy to know she is positively impacting someone’s life. She gets a rush knowing she is helping others, and feels the more she helps others, the better she feels about herself.

Michelle believes the organization has great community outreach and advocacy initiatives for the 50-plus, but also for the general population. Moving forward, she would like to focus on Livable Communities to determine how she can help make her own town of Sayreville, New Jersey more age-friendly. AARP defines a livable community as a community that is safe and secure, has affordable and appropriate housing and transportation options, and offers supportive community features and services. She and other volunteers had a little taste of what Livable Communities is about when a group from the AARP Middlesex County Team participated in creating a parklet in downtown Metuchen.  

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Michelle, who is part of the Middlesex County Volunteer Team, says the team has a diverse group of members who are easy to work with, and she says she is blessed to be part of their team. She has also worked with volunteers from the Bergen County Volunteer Team and says they are equally amazing.

“Let’s face it, anyone who volunteers to make the lives of others better has to have a good heart and a kind soul,” says Michelle. 

Michelle Murphy has always centered her life around volunteering, with experience dating back to her time in high school when she waited tables and watched children during Sunday services at her church. While attending college, she volunteered at a special needs school and helped at the local church during Sunday services.

Outside of her work with AARP New Jersey, Michelle is a volunteer at the Middlesex County Retired Educator Association where she holds several positions, including Recruitment Chair, Membership Chair, Webmaster, and a member of the Advocacy Committee. She is also the Council Secretary, and a reader, usher, prayer assistant, and Building and Grounds Chair for her church in Parlin. Michelle is the Facilitator of the Ashland and Dupont Community Advisory Panel, and a volunteer at the Saint Mary Food Pantry in South Amboy. Lastly, during the pandemic Michelle began making cloth face masks and giving them to those in need. She made 100 masks for a relief fund when the pandemic first hit and it was difficult to find face masks.

Outside of volunteering, Michelle enjoys sewing, making outdoor décor out of wood pallets, line dancing, live music, facetiming with her grandchildren in Japan, and Zumba! Before the pandemic, Michelle did Zumba twice a day, always challenging herself to push harder and do more. Now she relies on her fitness tracker to make sure she gets up and moves around to get between 10,000 and 15,000 steps a day.

If you’re interested in volunteering with AARP New Jersey, please fill out this short interest form.

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This story is provided by AARP New Jersey. Visit the AARP New Jersey page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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