In one capacity or another, Toshie Murrell spends most of her time serving the Radcliff community. Murrell has heavily emphasized non-profit work and community service within the last few years, a decision she said was influenced by a trip overseas.

Murrell took a mission trip to Honduras in 2015 through Feeding the Nations Ministry, an international non-profit that provides a variety of materials for citizens of developing nations, including food, vitamins, mattresses and toys.

She said while in Honduras, she encountered several abandoned and malnourished dogs on the streets. It inspired her to want to help animals in need at home.

“God laid it on my heart,” she said.

This desire to help local animals manifested into Forever Homes for Paws, a non-profit she co-founded with Norma Cooper in 2015.

Murrell said her partnership with Cooper started with a Facebook post. Murrell, who attended church with Cooper, made a post asking Facebook friends what they would do with their life if money was no object. When Cooper responded saying she would like to help animals in need, the two began discussing the idea of starting a non-profit.

Forever Homes for Paws is designed to help abandoned and abused animals through a rescue shelter and through educational community programs. A shelter was acquired in 2016 and became the venue for a new business: Lost Pounds Fitness and Pet Center.

The business provides boarding, daycare, grooming and obedience training services. Murrell said the business helps offset the cost of Forever Home for Paws and that many who rescue dogs through the nonprofit end up utilizing Lost Pounds services.

“They go paw in paw,” Murrell said.

Through Forever Home for Paws, Murrell also co-established the Paws United Network, which brings together animal service organizations in the region. She said the network allows these organizations to share resources in order to better serve the needs of animals in the community.

“There’s more power in numbers,” Murrell said.

The Paws United Network each year hosts an expo event at Pritchard Community Cen­­ter in Eliza­bethtown. Ap­proach­ing its sixth year, the expo features animals up for adoption, a variety of vendors, live entertainment and more.

Murrell said the expo has served as a great way for regional animal service organizations to receive exposure and network.

“It shows the community what’s happening in the rescue side,” she said.

Murrell’s work in local animal advocacy is balanced with her job as principal broker for Network Realty in Radcliff. Murrell has worked in real estate for more than 20 years.

She has lived in Radcliff since she was a first-grader, graduating from North Hardin High School in 1978. She also serves as vice president of the Radcliff Small Business Alliance.

“I love the atmosphere,” she said of her community.

Next month, Murrell will fulfill a dream she has had for decades: presenting Radcliff with a community festival. Murrell is the co-organizer of the Sept. 14 Radcliff Cultural Festival at the Radcliff Square Shopping Center.

Kicking off at 10 a.m., the event is set to include a par­ade, a variety of international food options, live entertainment, a fashion show and more. Murrell said the event is designed to highlight the cultural diversity of Radcliff and to bring visitors to the region.

About 15 different countries and territories will be represented at the event, she said.

“Diversity is our brand,” Murrell said.

The festival is organized by the newly formed Radcliff Community Council.

Radcliff City Council member Pam deRoche, also a member of the community council, said Murrell has had a strong vision for the festival.

“She’s been a very strong proponent of making this happen,” she said. “It’s really coming together and starting to look like it’s going to be a great event.”

Murrell said when the Rad­cliff Cultural Festival is over, she already will have her sights set on another new community event scheduled for March at Pritchard Community Center. She said she is in the development stages of a multi-faceted event that will bring together and showcase local non-profits called Helping Other People Expo or HOPE and a portion that will bring together local churches to provide inspirational words and music called One Heart: A Night of Hope.

“I just have a calling to serve and to pull people together,” Murrell said.

On top of all this, Murrell also serves as a volunteer for Court Appointed Special Advocates of the Heartland, a nonprofit that provides special advocates for children caught up in the court system. Murrell began working with CASA in January.

To volunteer for, donate to or receive more information about Forever Homes for Paws, the Radcliff Cultural Festival, the Paws United Expo or the One Heart: A Night of Hope event, contact Murrell at 270-801-5224.

Andrew Critchelow can be reached at 270-505-1746 or acritchelow@thenewsenterprise.com.