Susy Elder Murphy: Reflections on 25 Years

Susy Elder MurphyI was fortunate to grow up knowing all 4 of my grandparents well and spent part of each summer with my maternal grandparents at their cottage on Seneca Lake. My maternal grandfather was a Presbyterian minister and one of his favorite sayings was, “Your daily dish of ice cream is just as important as your daily devotions!” My paternal grandmother was one of the earliest Red Cross lifeguards trained in artificial resuscitation and she taught me and all of her grandchildren how to swim. She had her first opportunity to use her lifesaving skills when she was hiking in the Rocky Mountains and a young couple came running down the path with their toddler who had fallen into a stream and was blue and lifeless. My grandmother offered to try out this new technique she had learned and saved the little girl’s life. I think because my grandparents were such an important part of my life growing up, I always felt comfortable spending time with older people and sought out opportunities to work with them after I finished college.

I first learned about Debra Levy Eldercare Associates when I sold my first business and the attorney who assisted me was a friend of Debra’s. She offered to invite me to join them the next time they had lunch together, and the rest, as they say, is history. I was looking for a job that I could do part time so that I could also be home with our young children, so the flexibility of the job appealed to me. I will never forget my first client, who had been an adventurous young woman and run away to join the circus when she was 16. She was the first Caucasian woman to ride an elephant bareback in the circus and when I would bring her picture books about the circus, she would light up with excitement.

Through Debbie’s mentorship and guidance, I gained more training and eventually sat for the CMC (Care Manager Certified) exam through the National Association of Certified Care Managers. As I gained more seniority in the company, I took on more and more responsibility and mentored newer care managers as the company grew.

The summer of 2012 was the most difficult summer of my life, both personally and professionally. Debbie’s cancer diagnosis was entirely unexpected and when she left the office on July 5, neither of us guessed that she would never be well enough to return to work. Our core team, me, Susan Blum, Jennifer Sherwood and Kim Picca, worked closely together throughout that summer to provide care management support to Debbie and her family, and also to our clients, striving to have the work of the company continue uninterrupted. Carole Watson, Aggie Patti and Cindy Kantor (Aggie & Cindy now retired) helped me tremendously to keep the business end of the company running smoothly. I believe that one of the reasons our leadership team is so strong today is because we learned in 2012 how to support one another even as we do the challenging work of providing care management support to our clients and their families.

Although I never expected to be a business owner again, I find that I enjoy the mix of being able to still see some clients, mentor and support our staff, and also make real the vision that I have for the company as a small, independently owned and operated business. I am grateful that my husband Kevin is now retired and able to devote more time to working on the financial aspect of the business. We both feel strongly that all of our employees should feel invested in the overall success of the company and should likewise feel that we are invested in their success as an employee. We feel incredibly blessed by the amazing talent and dedication that every one of our employees brings to work each day!

My life has been greatly enriched by the many clients that I have been honored to provide care management support to over the years. I am part of a writers group and much of my writing has been inspired by my work with clients. To unwind, I like to cook and bake and even somehow found time a few summers ago to bake a wedding cake for friends (with the help of my daughter)! My favorite times are spent with our adult children and their spouses/partners and our annual trips to Cape Cod are the highlight of the year. I also love listening to audio books while driving home at the end of a long day or when walking around the little lake behind our house.