Shrewsbury’s Beth Murray named 2023 Commonwealth Heroine


Shrewsbury’s Beth Murray named 2023 Commonwealth Heroine
Beth Murray stands in front of the Shrewsbury Senior Center’s garden. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

SHREWSBURY – In late June, lifelong Shrewsbury resident Beth Murray was recognized for years of hard work and community involvement.

Murray, and dozens of other women from around the state, were honored as 2023 Commonwealth Heroines.

Murray, who has worked at the senior center for the last 16 years, was nominated by Rep. Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury). Kane, Select Board Chair Beth Casavant and Council on Aging Director Hollie Lucht surprised Murray with an official certificate at the senior center.

“Hannah [Kane] is a huge, huge supporter of Meals on Wheels and a lot of things for seniors, so she, I think, spearheaded this,” Murray told the Community Advocate. “Beth Casavant has always been the same; she’s very involved and helps the seniors in any way she can. Hollie, the director, I can’t say enough good things about her.”

The award, sponsored by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women, is meant to honor “women who use their time, talent, and enthusiasm to enrich the lives of others and make a difference in their neighborhoods, cities and towns.”

“Beth Murray is a beacon of light in the Shrewsbury community,” said Kane in a press release. “Beth brings her sense of humor, friendly demeanor, and kindness to everything that she does, and I am thankful for Beth’s passion and dedication to the residents in the town.”

Murray hasn’t been in the limelight throughout her time at the senior center, but that doesn’t mean her work goes unnoticed.

Murray’s day starts early – sometimes as early at 7:45 a.m. – but there’s lots of work to be done. As the Senior Center’s Meals on Wheels manager, Murray spends her mornings traveling the town to distribute hot meals. Her route includes more than 160 people per day.

Meals on Wheels is more than just food delivery. During her route, Murray takes time to speak to people – many of whom may have little daily social interaction – and check on their well-being. Sometimes, Murray finds that people have fallen or wandered away.

“I just love seniors. I always have. They’ve got interesting stories to tell,” Murray said. “A lot of these people, most of these people – especially on my Meals on Wheels route – don’t have relatives, or if they have relatives, they’ve moved elsewhere in the country. The only person they see sometimes is the mailman.”

Shrewsbury’s Meals on Wheels program is the second-largest in the area just behind Worcester. Murray works closely with the Elder Services of Worcester Area (ESWA) to coordinate the program. Murray couldn’t think more highly of the organization.

“I couldn’t do it without [them],” she said.

Murray’s shift ends at around 1 p.m., but that doesn’t mean her time at the Senior Center is over. As soon as she’s available, Murray finds Lucht and asks how she can help. She spends practically the rest of the day helping Lucht out around the building.

“I love it here. I just love it here,” Murray said, smiling from ear to ear. “If there’s something that needs to be done, I just pitch in. I really love to help them.”

Shrewsbury’s Beth Murray named 2023 Commonwealth Heroine
Beth Murray stands in front of the Shrewsbury Senior Center. (Photo/Evan Walsh)

She’s always working on finding activities people enjoy. So far, Murray has brought movies, BINGO, cards, and other exciting programming to senior center patrons. Murray seemed especially proud of her holiday events, including activities on Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day.

“I just make it welcoming. I want it to be in a place I want to be in,” said Murray.

One of Murray’s biggest initiatives was establishing the garden behind the senior center. The garden includes colorful plants, numerous decorations and one large granite bench. Set away from the road and under the forest canopy, the garden offers a shady, serene environment for patrons to enjoy. Murray is no stranger to gardening – she manages seven gardens at her house.

After hours of volunteering and Meals on Wheels, Murray typically returns home in the late afternoon. Even after the busy day, Murray is often already looking forward to returning to the senior center again tomorrow.

“I know I’ve had a good day. I just like to get involved… This is what I’m really interested in,” she said. “This truly isn’t a job for me; it’s something that I really love. I don’t get up in the morning and say… ‘Is it Saturday yet?’ I don’t do that because I love coming to work.”

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