John Murphy honored as Habitat Volunteer of the Year

Courtesy Photo Pictured above, from left, are Jennifer Nestell, John Murphy, and Kristen LeSage. Nestell and LeSage work for Habitat for Humanity Northeast Michigan, and Murphy was named Habitat Volunteer of the Year, for which he received the awards Nestell and LeSage are holding.

ALPENA ­– The first thing John Murphy thought when he found out he was named Habitat for Humanity Northeast Michigan Volunteer of the Year was that so many other people deserve recognition.

That alone says a lot about this man’s humility and character. He was born to help others. It’s just what he does.

Habitat for Humanity Northeast Michigan leaders presented Murphy with a framed certificate of recognition on Oct. 19, 2022, signed by Executive Director Ted Fines and Board President Max Lindsay.

“Habitat for Humanity Northeast Michigan recognizes and acknowledges John Murphy for demonstrating selflessness in service to those in need of decent and affordable housing,” the certificate states. “Thank you for dedicating your time to helping Habitat for Humanity realize its vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Your efforts have helped people build strength, stability and self-reliance through better shelter.”

In addition, Murphy received a State of Michigan Special Tribute dated Oct. 25, signed by State Rep. Sue Allor, State Senator Jim Stamas, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

“John has contributed toward the organization in several ways, including: going above and beyond in volunteering on construction repair sites and serving as an active board member,” the tribute reads. “His contributions to the organization are immeasurable and his generous inclinations will be valued by his community.”

Murphy joined the board here in 2018, but he had been involved in Habitat for Humanity projects in various locations across the country prior to that, in Seattle and Colorado Springs. He is on several committees, including resource development (fundraising), construction, personnel, and finance.

“I have been a mentor to our partner families, as they go through the process and they get into a house,” Murphy said.

He has also interviewed those who are applying to become Habitat homeowners. He helps them through the process, alongside Habitat employees Jennifer Nestell and Kristen LeSage.

Murphy has also been instrumental in helping with construction projects, such as building ramps for seniors or people with disabilities who need better access to their own homes.

Murphy, 77, was born and raised in Davison, near Flint.

“Then, through my work with the federal government, I wound up in Seattle,” Murphy explained. “I worked in Washington, D.C., and half a dozen other places throughout the country.”

In Seattle, he and his wife, Joyce, lived on Bainbridge Island for 23 years, where they raised their two daughters, who now live in Colorado Springs and Seattle.

“When we came back here, I worked for a couple of years in the local Social Security Office,” he noted, prior to retiring in 1998.

“I spent 33 years in the federal government,” Murphy said. “My background was mental health. I was a licensed master’s level mental health person for the federal government, ran the employee assistance program, my managerial duties were broader than that.”

Now retired, he is the primary caregiver for his wife, who has Parkinson’s. While that is a full-time job, he still finds time to volunteer for Habitat, and he enjoys it.

“I’ve always been in a helping role,” Murphy said. “It’s always a benefit if you can see someone accomplish a number of goals, and help them with those goals.”


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