Denise Murphy was born and raised in the center of Manhattan, but a few years ago, something changed that made her want to move north. Living in the city, divorced, with her son in college, Denise was just doing her own thing when the internet intervened.
“I was on the committee for my high school and it was the first time we were on the web. I got an e-mail from my boyfriend from high school’s brother. I hadn’t seen him in 25 to 28 years,” Denise laughed. “He told his brother, Rob that he found me online, and long story short, I married my high school boyfriend and moved upstate.”
Upon getting back together with her high school boyfriend, Denise agreed to a two year trial run in Coxsackie and she never looked back. She worked from home and traveled a lot which made it difficult to form a solid day-to-day routine in a new town.
“Since my job as so intense, I needed somewhere to go—a routine. This was back in 2012 before there was a Y, so I joined Curves. It was a little teeny tiny place in Catskill,” explained Denise. “I joined a book club during the day and a book club at night. I didn’t really know a lot of people here. So I wanted to make some structure to my day, otherwise I didn’t know what to do.”
Denise started to fall into a balanced routine of work and fun. Despite her busy schedule, she made health and wellness a priority.
“Eventually, Curves closed so I joined Summit Hill—they welcomed all the Curves people without a sign-up fee, but I really wanted to join the Y,” smiled Denise. “You know, how you feel like you can’t leave a place—you feel guilty because you’ve developed relationships with these people. My contract was coming to a close and I was planning to make the move and Summit Hill closed! So it was great! I got to come over to the Y.”
As it turned out, the Y was exactly what Denise was looking for. She jumped right into the Y community and made her mark.
“I joined, and I don’t even think I was here for three months before they approached me to be on the Membership Committee. I’ve been on it since then,” Denise explained. “I was approached to be on the board so now I’m on the board. Then I was approached to chair the Togetherhood committee, which I do. And soon, I will also be the president of the Coxsackie-Athens Rotary.”
Even with all of those things on her plate, Denise is always eager and willing to help.
“You fall into a pattern here,” said Denise. “It’s not even like volunteering, it’s more of a habit. It’s like you own it. You’re a part of it. It’s not a chore. You want to make sure everything goes smoothly and that everything’s a success. It’s just a part of your day.”
It’s Denise’s unwavering dedication and commitment to our community that makes us stronger every day.
“I have found Coxsackie to be the most amazing community for coming out when someone says, we need help,” Denise explained. “So for the first year of the Togetherhood program, we went out and talked to people like teachers, health workers, and other community members and asked what our community needs. We compiled that and came up with a list. We decided to help the Columbia-Greene Domestic Violence Program first. We called them up and asked what they needed.”
Denise put the community first and was able to fill the gaps and fulfill the needs of the community as a whole.
“When people come to the shelter, they just walked out of their house. They need tampons, shampoos, and all that day to day stuff,” said Denise. “So we put up a sign, got some bins—we stood by the door, handed out flyers and gave out information. We got so much stuff.”
The Y’s Togetherhood program collected 175 pounds of such items as: feminine hygiene products: shampoo, conditioner, toothbrush, toothpaste, razors, deodorant, diaper, wipes and much more.
“It was so gratifying to see everyone come out because our community needed help,” said Denise. “It touched me so profoundly. All we did was chat with people we know, and told them what was going on in our community.”
Denise truly embodies the Y mission and works every day to help us thrive.
“It’s like your family is here. It’s an awesome place to be,” smiled Denise. “So much so, that if I ever retire with my husband, and we moved, I would have to be near a Y.”