Texas transplant fills need in Hardin County

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Wednesday's Woman

By Becca Owsley

Jennifer Murphy moved to Elizabethtown five years ago when many military families moved to the area from Fort Hood, Texas.
But the 32-year-old has nothing to do with the military — Murphy followed friends moving to Fort Knox.


“I was looking for a change and they were moving up here to Fort Knox so I thought, ‘Hey, I guess I’ll just go there,’” Murphy said.

After living in big cities, she appreciated going to the grocery and seeing someone she knows. She came to like the small-city atmosphere.

After moving to Elizabethtown, Murphy worked as a massage therapist and spent her free time volunteering with the crisis line at the Advocacy and Support Center.

In 2012, she joined the staff as volunteer and special events coordinator.

The center serves eight counties and is a combination rape crisis center and child advocacy center dealing mainly with sexually abused children, she said.

The 24-hour crisis line helps sexual assault victims. When a hospital calls, someone must be there for the victim through the entire process, Murphy said.

The need for this sort of organization isn’t always realized, she said. She said an estimated one in three girls and one in six boys have been sexually abused before age 18.

Murphy often is the first face families and victims see when they take a step toward healing, said Nikki Ellis, executive director of the Advocacy and Support Center.

“Jennifer has a huge heart and will do whatever is necessary to help the victims of sexual assault, whether it is a child, an adult or their non-offending family members,” Ellis said.

Murphy recruits and trains volunteers for the crisis line and runs all special events including the center’s biggest fundraiser, Via Colori. She has 25 volunteers on the crisis line but would like 30-35.
Ellis said Murphy’s job requires two types of skills.

“First, she is required to be compassionate enough to recruit, educate, empower and retain volunteers to assist with various aspects of ASC and its functioning,” she said. “Secondly, she has to be assertive and persistent with community partners and businesses to complete the tasks required of a special events planner.”

It’s Murphy’s self-confidence and assuredness that has taken the center to the next level in volunteerism, hospital advocacy and special events planning, Ellis said.

Murphy always needs volunteers for the crisis line but, for those interested in donating something other than time, the center always needs books, toys and play dough to have around during classes or forensic interviews, Murphy said. Another option is to donate sponsorships for Via Colori.

Via Colori is the second Saturday in September, but as early as two weeks after it’s over, Murphy is working on the next year’s event.
This marks the sixth year for the colorful event. Artists line the streets of downtown Elizabethtown and create images on sidewalks.
“It’s really neat to be a part of something like that,” she said.

Many people do not realize the yearly event is a fundraiser for the Advocacy and Support Center, Murphy said.

“My hands are all over it,” said Murphy, who recruits artists, plans the event, secures sponsorships and organizes children’s sections for Via Colori.

She also stays active volunteering with Rotaract and doing massage therapy for Hosparus.

Dana Taylor, Rotaract Club of Hardin County president, met Murphy when she joined the organization.

“Jennifer is the type of person you always want to be around because she is so positive, funny and can easily lighten the mood in any situation,” Taylor said.

Even though Murphy’s job keeps her on call around the clock, she always finds times to be a part of community service projects, Taylor said. Recently Murphy conducted a donation drive for the Kid’s in Transition campaign associated with Taylor’s nonprofit, Hands Filled with Heart.

“KITs are bags filled with different types of items that we donate to the local family resource centers in our community, and they are given to foster kids when they begin this new chapter in their life,” Taylor said. “Jennifer saw where we needed donations for this cause and took the initiative to create a donation drive within the center.”

Becca Owsley can be reached at 270-505-1741 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com.

Just so you know
Jennifer Murphy speaks fluent Russian. The language seemed natural to her, so she took a two-week trip to Russia and spent a summer studying there. Knowing the language hasn’t come in very handy in Elizabethtown, she said, but when Murphy worked in a doctor’s office in Fort Hood, she was able to translate for patients on a few occasions. In her spare time, Murphy reads books in Russian. She doesn’t read Russian classics but modern fiction, such as the “Song of Ice and Fire” series, in that language.

More about Jennifer Murphy
Favorite movie:
“Jackie Brown” She loves Quentin Tarantino films.
Mentors: Her grandmother was her mentor until she died five years ago. Another mentor was her Russian teacher who helped her become passionate about the language.
Favorite band: Coldplay
Favorite books: Too many to name but her favorite might be “She’s Come Undone.”
Pet: Her 4-year-old dog, Oso, is a rescued basset hound wheaten terrier mix. “He has to be the sweetest, coolest thing I’ve ever had,” she said. He has the face of a terrier with a basset hound body and stumpy legs. Because of her experience with Oso, she’s committed only to rescue dogs from now on.
Favorite television show: “30 Rock,” before that she liked “The Office.”