We are for good neighbors who share our passion for and love of community and prove day after day to be a fixture in their community. That’s why, starting in 2019, we will be featuring neighbors around the world who epitomize neighborliness and inspire us to do more good!
Today’s neighbor feature highlights one neighbor in particular that truly embodies what it means to be a good neighbor. Meet Meaghan Murphy, a Westfield, NJ resident and also the Executive Editor of Good Housekeeping, who was awarded the Chief Spirit Officer title from Westfield’s Mayor for her constant commitment to making Westfield a thriving hub for all.
We caught up with Meaghan to learn more about what her community means to her and what it means to be Westfield’s Chief Spirit Officer. Check out our Q&A with her below!
What does community mean to you?
Community means family. I think that where you live should feel like a big hug. I love that when I walk down the block, I know peoples’ name and they know my name, that feels really nice. I think that your community should feel like your family, so the more you are involved in your community the more it feels that way. Westfield has a vibrant downtown, one of the best downtowns in the state. We have a real nice sense of community and familiarity.
Tell us how you got the title Chief Spirit Officer?
I was doing a Girls Night Out event at a local store called The Farmhouse Store, which is my favorite little shop in town that sells home goods and furnishings. It’s a quirky, eclectic, fabulous shop. My friend Verne Yip from HGTV had flown out to do a book signing. We were meeting all the neighbors and he was signing books, it was a great community night. The local news came as well as the then-Mayor of Westfield. Verne had turned to the Mayor and told him he had never met someone more passionate about their town than me and said I am basically the Chief Spirit Officer. The Mayor’s wife had been watching the news and saw this comment, and suggested naming me the town’s Chief Spirit Officer. The next day I met him with for coffee and he officially appointed the title to me!
I had flexibility and could make the role whatever I wanted, so I started going to the town council meetings and presenting local businesses and offering special deals to the community to shop at those businesses. I also started the Kindness Rocks project, where I painted spirit rocks and hid them around town with positive messages. I also started to do more volunteer work in the community.
Why is community important in today’s world?
We all need a sense of community. I’m a busy mom with three kids and a commute to New York City. I need my community to feel like a safe place, I need to feel that my community supports me. I need to feel good about going home. Community really is like your extended family, and the more we support each other and encourage each other, help shop and eat local, raise funds and awareness for charities, the better.
With a BIG job and three kids, why do you feel it is important to carve time out to give back to your community?
When I have a commute, just being a part of the community even if I’m not there all day gives me a sense of peace and belonging. I’m a working mom so I need to be connected with the stay at home parents and community to know exactly what’s going on. I want to get those text messages and that alert from my Nextdoor app. I need my community to be my eyes and ears while I’m out working, so I owe it to them to give back any way that I can. If I have an expertise, voice or influence in a certain area, I want to impact my community positively. I’ve done back to school drives for the Boys and Girls Club of a neighboring city’s downtown because I want to leverage our community to help nearby ones thrive as well. We’re fortunate to live in a community that’s thriving, so we have an opportunity and an obligation to give up ourselves to surrounding communities so we can all be successful and happy.
How has community shaped you into who you are today?
I’ve always been a part of a team and that’s the same as community to me. I’ve always had a team mentality, so that is the same way I approach my community. I want to be a part of the team, and I want to be part of a win. I’m also going to be that town’s biggest cheerleader because I like rooting people on.
What is your favorite neighborhood memory from your childhood?
I grew up in a neighboring city of Westfield named Bridgewater, and it did not have a downtown or strong sense of community. I think that having a business district inspires community in a new way. I grew up visiting the town I live in now, getting dropped off to shop or get ice cream. I had an aspirational view of this town, and when it was time to raise a family, that’s what we wanted. I have less community memories of where I grew up, but because of being part of teams and being spirited, knew I wanted that, and chose Westfield.
What are your favorite neighborhood spots and why?
I have celiac disease, so my favorite restaurant is Ferraro’s because they have the ultimate gluten-free menu. You can get anything from zucchini sticks to mozarella sticks to gnocchi to ravioli. It’s a place I know I’m going to be able to eat whatever I want and be safe. It also has a family feel–They serve the food on their family’s China dishes. I love Limani for dessert. To shop, I love The Farmhouse Store. I also love Baron’s Drug Store– it’s so much more than that. They have an incredible beauty counter, you can get helium balloons, candy, toys, gifts, you name it! I also really like The Rialto. It’s a movie theatre that has been there so long my grandparents went on dates there!
What do you love about Bestfield?
Westfield is the bestfield. It’s the best of smalltown living.