“No water, no life. No blue, no green,” says Sylvia Earle, National Geographic explorer-in-residence. The simple yet powerful sentiment is shared by Edina business owner Tim Murphy. “You can’t get people healthy unless they have clean water,” he says. “It’s a basic necessity of life.”
Murphy has focused much of his philanthropic endeavors on SafeWater Plus, a program of the Rotary Foundation in developing countries. SafeWater provides micro-organism and contaminant-free water, while Plus secures adequate sanitation facilities, health and hygiene education, and long-term operation and maintenance of water supply and sanitation systems.
“Women, for years, spend the day getting [clean] water,” Murphy explains of the lengths some families go to access water. The hours spent collecting water takes time away from attending school, tending to other health needs and securing adequate food sources. “Focusing on water first is almost a necessity before you address other issues,” Murphy says.
As a member of the Edina Noon Rotary Club, Murphy has participated in the clean water initiative since 2000. “It’s a means to give back,” he says. “Rotary does great things.” Clearly, Murphy does great things, too. A member since 1995, Murphy has served in many capacities over the years, including as a five-year officer and past president, recipient of the Rotary International’s Four Avenues of Service and Service Above Self awards, past chairman and 15-year participant in Camp Enterprise, District 5950 International Project chairman, chairman of the District 5950 Grant Subcommittee and currently serves as the District Governor for District 5950.
Murphy’s international service began in 2000. Over the years, he has traveled with Rotary programs to Chile, El Salvador, Honduras and the Dominican Republic. Most recently, he made nine trips in seven years (personally funded) to Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. “Thanks to Tim’s efforts, District 5950’s SafeWater Plus Program has expanded to Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, Guatemala and Honduras over the past seven years,” says Sandy Schley, district Rotary Foundation chairman and Edina resident.
Murphy’s volunteer basket may seem full, but he’s able to think and act globally, while also keeping local programs near and dear. When his now-grown children were younger, he was active in the Boys Scouts of America, serving for six years as an assistant scout master. He is currently on the Explore Edina board, and received a mayoral service commendation in 2015 for his passion for service and standing as a role model.
The long-time volunteer doesn’t speak much about inspiring others; rather he focuses on those who have motivated him in service and business. “I’ve been encouraged by some mentors,” he says, pointing to Mike Norman, Rotarian and former leader of the Upper Midwest Dale Carnegie organization. Murphy heard Norman deliver the speech “Letting Go” that highlighted ways that talent within an organization or business can be thwarted by micromanagement and dictatorial styles. “That prompted me to get uninvolved in the day-to-day business of my company and give my time to service,” Murphy says. He and his wife, Cindy, own and operate Murphy Automotive Inc., a group of automotive repair facilities in Edina (Edina Tire and Auto and Grandview Tire and Auto) and Lakeville.
Murphy shares his framework for giving through speeches to other Rotarians nationally and around the globe. Part of his message includes giving of self to positively impact the world. “The glory of Rotary is that it provides us the opportunities to do just that,” Murphy’s speech notes. “It is a chance of a lifetime to leave our mark. I was here; I mattered.” He calls on Rotarians to mentor new members: “Be that person of significance to them, empower him or her, and get out of the way.”