Green River Star -

By David Martin

Firefighter named Volunteer of the Year


April 15, 2021

Courtesy photo

Tom Murphy holds his Volunteer of the Year award during a recent visit to the Green River Chamber of Commerce. While most know him through is service to the Green River Fire Department, Murphy has been involved in several charitable initiatives.

For more than 22 years, Tom Murphy has worked to make Green River a better place.

More most, especially Green River's youth, Murphy is known for his work as a volunteer firefighter with the city's fire department. Hundreds of children have heard him talk about fire safety in the city's schools and at public events.

Murphy said it isn't unusual for a child to walk up to him and tell them how much they remember from his presentations. Murphy recalls one child getting so excited when seeing him after a fire safety talk they ran up to him and gave him a tight hug as the child's parents tried to figure out how Murphy knew their kid.

It was through the fire department that Murphy organized the birthday drive-by visits for people celebrating their birthdays during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. Firefighters, along with emergency responders from Castle Rock Hospital District, the Green River Police Department and the Sweetwater Sheriff's Office, would drive by the homes of people who couldn't celebrate their birthday in a more traditional manner. While the visits were short lived, they made an impression on the people young and old who experienced them. Murphy said it was originally aimed at children, but the firefighters ended up fulfilling a few requests to visit teens and adults. During those visits, Murphy said they firefighters would aid in the light-hearted ribbing the parents or spouses of the birthday person were initiating. It was all in good fun.

Fire prevention and the department's activities are not the only causes on Murphy's plate. He and his wife head up the biennial Green River Pond and Garden Tour, using it as a means to raise money for various causes, including medical procedures and memorials.

Some older children may remember visiting his house on Halloween and receiving a full-sized toy when visiting the Murphy home.

Murphy also frequently donates toys to various toy drives, hoping he can help bring a smile to a child's face.

He also served one term as a Green River City Councilman, serving from 2017-2020 until being replaced by Sherry Bushman this year. He said his time as a councilman was mostly positive despite getting some criticism over decisions like the move to close the city's landfill and move solid waste operations to a third-party.

While he lost his election bid, he hopes Bushman enjoys her time on the Council as much as he did.

"The biggest thing I enjoy is helping out in the community," Murphy said.

When he was informed he received the Green River Chamber of Commerce's Volunteer of the Year award, he said he was surprised to receive it.

According to a media release from the chamber, Murphy helped the first Flags of Honor event the chamber hosted last year, setting up the flags and arranging for the GRFD to bring its ladder truck and the massive American flag the department has to draw attention to the event. He's also helped the chamber during its annual Great Duck Race, an fundraising event where rubber ducks are floated down the river near Expedition Island.

Last year, Murphy was be found snagging stray ducks at the far end of the river before they're able to escape. He's also helped with other River Festival events, such as the Run with the Horses Marathon.

"He did all of this without a second thought," The chamber's release states.

For Murphy, while he contributes a lot of his time to community efforts, he's also very keen to thank the people and organizations that rally around a cause he's working with.

"If you thank people for doing things, it makes it a whole lot better (for them) and a lot more fun," he said.

While talking about the different community initiatives he's been involved in, he also talks about how he enjoys bring others along to aid in those efforts.

It isn't unusual for businesses and donors to receive a personalized thank you from Murphy or the GRFD after giving a donation. Murphy said it's important to him to show how appreciated a donation or gift is.

Murphy said he sees himself continuing to help Green River. Retired, Murphy intends to remain on the GRFD and help his wife with the pond tour and other initiatives she takes on as a member of the Green River Chamber of Commerce's managing board.

However, for Murphy the reward is in making Green River a better place, not the recognition. He looks forward to continuing that work in the future.


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