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From Serving His Country to Helping Through Charitable Giving: The Story of a Rockland County Soldier

Featuring John Murphy, Co-founder, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Rockland Homes for Heroes

In our community connected, we choose to support causes that are near and dear to our hearts and our communities. Our current armed forces, veterans and their families make significant sacrifices every day and this dedication aligns with Affinity’s commitment to our social purpose.

Spotlight on Heroes

Recently, Affinity’s Foundation celebrated Armed Forces Appreciation month by collecting donations for three tristate charities who assist veterans in need. One of these charities, Rockland Homes for Heroes1 (RH4H), develops permanent supportive housing for honorably discharged veterans who are homeless, disabled or at risk of homelessness in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley. Founded in 2009, RH4H is led exclusively by volunteers (mostly veterans) with decades of service to the local community.

We had a chance to speak with John Murphy, the Co-founder, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of RH4H. John talked about why he created this organization and what charitable giving to other veterans means to him.

What in your personal life has influenced you to be so involved in Rockland Homes for Heroes?

John: “I myself was a United States Marine and I am forever a United States Marine. My family has been in the military as well; my first cousin died in a Navy Dive bomber at the age of 21. All my adult life, exclusive of my family and professional life, has been about serving people who have brain maladies and who are homeless. This is my life’s passion. So many veterans struggle once we leave the military; we have been through a lot and to have an organization like Homes for Heroes is truly amazing for these veterans and their families. Everything I have done previously in my life has led me here and I am grateful to give these opportunities to these families.”

Could you explain your role within the organization and how you became involved? Similarly, what ultimately keeps you involved in this philanthropic work?

John: “I am the Co-founder, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Rockland Homes for Heroes. I became involved because so many veterans and their families experience homelessness first hand. Being a veteran myself, I wanted to give other veterans and their families the opportunity to have a home and create memories.

My current philanthropic involvement includes Camp Venture, Rockland Autism Symposium and Rockland Psychiatric Center Board of Visitors, and I’m a member of the Surrogate Decision Making Committee of the New York State Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs. In the past, I have been on the Boards of Directors for many children’s organizations as well as the Rockland County Board of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Alcoholism. I have also been a Rockland County Legislator for 44 years.”

What is one thing you’d like the community to know about the mission of Rockland Homes for Heroes?

John: “Our mission is important and affects so many veterans’ families. We strive to help homeless veterans and their families get back on their feet by giving them a place to call home. Veterans have given up a lot of their lives for the country, and the least we can do is help support them and their families by helping to give them a place to call home.”

Donations from Affinity’s Armed Forces Appreciation Month will support three local veterans’ organizations, including Rockland Homes for Heroes. How can Affinity members work with your organization throughout the year?

John: “The site that the apartments for Phase I are built on was used as a World War II military base where United States military troops were shipped out to fight in Europe. After WWII, Camp Shanks became Shanks Village, providing homes for veterans and their families. Phase I consists of eight apartments for military veterans. These are complete and currently house formerly homeless or disabled veterans. Phase II is in the planning stages and will have the potential to house 20 homeless veterans once complete.

In order for us to build our Phase II rental apartments we need all the help we can get. Affinity employees and members can volunteer with Rockland Homes for Heroes and donate to us as we get closer to building the Phase II rental apartments.”

What does it mean to you to have Affinity give back to the community through Rockland Homes for Heroes?

John: “I find comfort in knowing people care about our veterans who face very personal challenges and, like our first responders, were willing to put their lives in jeopardy to save ours. It’s nice to see that people do care about homeless veterans and want the best for their well-being, because in the end we are all people and we all deserve a warm bed to sleep in at night.

Rockland Homes for Heroes is a great organization with a beautiful cause. People tend to walk past homeless people all the time, not thinking of their struggles or their past sacrifices. There are a lot of instances where those homeless people we walk past are veterans, who have been through a lot in their lives and have sacrificed a lot along the way. We are all human and have our own struggles. Homes for Heroes is changing these veterans and their families’ lives and giving them a way to get back on their feet.”

1 Rockland Homes for Heroes

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