A former Hephzibah resident once said, “Once a Hephzibah kid, always a Hephzibah kid.”

No one exemplifies that more than Peter Murphy and Melissa Smith, who started their journey with Hephzibah as children and just celebrated their 25th anniversary as staff.

Peter was a member of Hephzibah’s first forever family when Oak Parkers Dennis and Bunny Murphy adopted him and his three siblings. Now he invests in the lives of children living at Hephzibah Home, a therapeutic home for severely abused and neglected children.

Peter is thought of warmly by Hephzibah Home residents. One former resident reminisced, “He always played basketball with my brother and me. We tried to do pull-ups on his arms.”

“…And that is why I love my job,” Peter responded.

Peter is well regarded by his colleagues. “Peter is the heart and soul of Hephzibah. He really understands what kids need at any given moment,” says Assistant Director of Group Homes Debbie Pontrelli. “His sense of humor is one of his greatest attributes.”

Melissa Smith–once a child in their after school and summer camp programs is now the programs’ assistant director–is also appreciated by her colleagues. “Melissa has a great spirit and a kind heart,” says Day Care Office Manager Annette Anderson. “She doesn’t mind rolling up her sleeves. She’s such a good person.”   

Melissa loves her job. “I like the creative part of working with the kids and staff. They are rejuvenating,” she says. “I enjoy watching the staff grow.”

Peter and Melissa are just a couple examples of home-grown Oak Park staff who invest in the lives of Hephzibah children and families.

For more stories about Hephzibah, check out their blog at https://www.hephzibahhome.org/blog

Hephzibah Children’s Association
(708) 649-7140

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