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Five Questions with John Murphy
By Jean Cohoon / February 26, 2014 /   Loading Disqus...
John Murphy has established three funds at the Foundation: the Horace and Reverend E. Naomi Craig Scholarship Fund to honor the fund’s namesakes for their lifetime of service to Sheldon Street Church, Fox Point, and the City of Providence; the Major Jeremiah P. Murphy Scholarship Fund to honor his late brother and his 33 years of service on the Providence Police Department; and, with his wife, the John and Grace Murphy Fund for Youth to assist Rhode Island’s underserved youth.

Here, he talks about the causes he supports, what inspires him to give, and his hope for Rhode Island's future.

1. What do you support through the Rhode Island Foundation?
I like to address a need and I see there’s a need with poor people and education in Rhode Island. Through my brother’s fund [The Major Jeremiah P. Murphy Scholarship Fund], over time, we’ve given out $350,000 to children of retired and active Providence police officers. I also made a substantial contribution to the University of Rhode Island’s mentoring and tutoring program to ensure that high school students get additional support and we provide them with the knowledge, resources and tools needed to help them qualify for college. The Horace and Reverend E. Naomi Craig Scholarship Fund helps inner city children from the area -- from the Fox Point Boys and Girls Club and the Sheldon Street Church -- to assist them with tuition for both private and parochial schools. I also established the John and Grace Murphy Fund for Youth in 2009 to assist Rhode Island’s underserved youth so they can experience and participate in cultural, educational and recreational events.

2. Why did you choose to partner with the Foundation?
I believe in your mission and integrity, and I am confident that the funds are being used appropriately. I have complete trust and confidence in the Foundation. I have a good feeling and great peace of mind knowing that I helped fulfill the causes that I support. I like the fact that the Foundation is very public-spirited and wants to help the community.

3. What inspires you to give?
My mother, who had about two cents, couldn’t live if she didn’t help others. I feel that I have to do more. I believe the Rose Kennedy quote, “To those whom much is given, much is expected.” And I tell my sons, “You’ve been blessed. You have to give something back.” Just as I saw my mother committed to helping others, my sons see their parents doing the same thing.

4. What was your first act of philanthropy?

My first act of philanthropy was when I was in the military. Rather than throw away surplus food, I would save it and refrigerate the perishables and, on the weekend, I would take the food and give it to the Maryknoll Sister’s orphanage in Pusan, Korea.

5. What is your hope for Rhode Island?
I’m optimistic. I see the economy coming back. Consumer confidence is up. Interest rates are low. I think we have to be more entrepreneurial, and I thank the Rhode Island Foundation for being aware. I think you need the academic community. We have great colleges and universities here in Rhode Island; now we have to support and tap into their knowledge base. I congratulate Johnson & Wales for starting their new Center for Physician Assistant Studies. I think the new available land in downtown Providence from I-195 is a great location and a huge parcel of land to develop. It is close to RI Hospital, the new Brown University Medical School and Johnson & Wales’ new Center for Physician Assistant Studies. We should be looking at other medical initiatives. We need to explore medical research not just in diseases but also in increasing certification and degrees in the following fields: chiropractor, podiatry, physical therapy and radiology assistance. We also need to make available capital and loans to the immigrant population because 44% of all new businesses are started by immigrants. The demographics of Providence and Rhode Island are changing, and we need to adapt to these changes. I think we can increase tourism and Rhode Island can become even more of a recreation and vacation destination. I think we have so much history that would allow us to entice vacationers to come to Rhode Island. The historical society, the colleges and universities, economic development and the hospitality industry should all work on increasing tourism in our state. We have a great story to tell, and we have a beautiful state. We need to harness all our resources and use them to make even better economic opportunities for ourselves and for the next generation.
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