Villagers in the News

Heritage Village has many talented and capable residents who are newsworthy in one form or another because of their various achievements, talents, or milestones. This page is dedicated to showcasing their accomplishments.
     If you know of any residents who might be featured in future articles, please email Doris Sommers at:
Terry Murphy, Another Villager in the News!
It’s no surprise to find Villagers with talents and achievements that continue to impress. Enter, Terry Murphy, the founder of Soulful Sydney, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the social and emotional welfare of children and created to help families during isolation and grief.
Along with other projects, Soulful Sydney has sent more than 150 birdhouses to help grieving children heal after loss during this time of isolation. Each birdhouse contains a stuffed animal, a poem for the children, and a letter for their parents. This gift acts as a catalyst to encourage conversation with grieving children through communication between the child and parent or others.
According to Terry, Soulful Sydney has been in the works for many years and initially began because she wanted to create a safe place for her grandchildren. So she used a forest metaphor to represent a more spiritual, peaceful life. For example, when children explore the Soulful Forest, they can visit Camp Kindness, the Tranquil Tree, the River of Resilience, the Pondering Pond, the Field of Forgiveness, the Gratitude Garden, or Mindful Mountain. One place to stay away from is Camp Chaos at Belly Acres Farm where everyone is always in a constant state of alarm and stress!
I asked Terry why the main character is called Sydney and why she chose a bird (the chickadee) as the symbol for Soulful Sydney. First, Terry’s granddaughter’s name is Sydney and second, the healing chickadee was chosen because most people love birds.
Birds symbolize freedom because they have the ability and the freedom to roam the earth and fly in the skies. When birds are seen in dreams, they are good omens. They represent life, rebirth, intelligence, peace, hope, and love.
Upon further research, I learned that chickadees, in particular, are symbols of cheerful and truthful beings who teach us the art of flexibility and curiosity regardless of size. They are symbolic of good nature, social behavior, courage, and positivity.
I asked Terry how the pandemic has affected the presence of Soulful Sydney. She said the pandemic has added another dimension to the Soulful Sydney project. Terry partners with the Cove for Grieving Children, another nonprofit organization. Teaming up with the Cove, Terry provides the chickadee birdhouses to help comfort a grieving child in their journey of grief. Children can also go online to see additional videos and hear original music.
Terry believes Mother Nature nurtures children, and one of the ways to heal grief is to walk outside where they can see birds, breathe in fresh air, and get some exercise in the process. She feels that children are more apt to open up through the magic of walking outside as opposed to steadily using electronics indoors.
Terry and her team also created a book for grades first through fourth, entitled Soulful Sydney Explores Diversity which focuses on discrimination, prejudices, and exclusion. The vocabulary is above the second grade level, while the illustrations are for lower grades.  The challenge was how to get the message across. The solution was to include a vocabulary guide which has proven to be very helpful to teachers and parents.
Soulful Sydney has been used in schools and other educational programs. The book is accompanied by songs. Children are encouraged to read the book and become “captains of kindness.” Terry has visited many first, second, and third grade classes in CT. Her school trips have pointed out the differences in equality in various school districts throughout CT. While some enjoy state-of-the-art equipment, other schools are not well equipped at all.
She noted the disparity in education, how some children are starting out in deficit learning situations while others enjoy a much higher standard of education. Terry believes in equal education for all.
On one school visit, a student pointed out that before she read Terry’s diversity book, she had never seen herself pictured in a book and this gave her great joy in being recognized as being as important as other children.
I asked Terry how Soulful Sydney has changed her life. She said it has opened her eyes to many truths. Sometimes, even our best intentions can be misinterpreted as negative and not as we intended. Being open to others’ feelings and attempting to see things as they might see them will always be an ongoing process.
You can view and order Soulful Sydney products at:
Terry Murphy’s Soulful Sydney Interview conducted on March 24, 2021
via telephone by Doris Sommers