Barbara Murphy named Meals on Wheels volunteer of the year

Barbara Murphy of Chilmark is the "Volunteer of the Year." — Photo by Nelson Sigelman

Elder Services of Cape Cod and the Islands recognized Barbara Murphy of Chilmark as the “Volunteer of the Year” at the organization’s annual meeting on Tuesday, May 7. Ms. Murphy received an award from Elder Services and a citation from the state senate for her outstanding service and commitment.

Ms. Murphy volunteered as a Meals on Wheels driver in 2005 after retiring from more than 30 years as a Spanish teacher at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.

“Barbara’s commitment to the consumers on her routes is heartfelt,” M.V. Nutrition Coordinator Heidi Dietterich said in a press release.

When Ms. Murphy’s route grew too large in the past year and had to be split in two, she made a special effort to stop by and inform the clients whose meals she would no longer deliver, and promised to visit them from time to time, Ms. Dietterich said.

“Doing this is a great thing for people,” Ms. Murphy told Ms. Dietterich, when asked why she volunteers for Meals on Wheels. “It opens up your world. You meet fabulous people who give you inspiration. It’s a life lesson, learning from our elders who are dealing with life courageously and gracefully.”

Ms. Murphy, who grew up in Oak Bluffs, said she was proud to follow in the footsteps of her father, Bill Thomas, who served as a long-time Meals on Wheels volunteer driver in his retirement.

Ms. Dietterich said it is a joy to have Ms. Murphy, who knows so many people in the community, as a volunteer on the Martha’s Vineyard team. “We couldn’t do the job we do without people like Barbara, and her special kind of ‘star’ power,” she added.