Thanks to these Hometown co-winners, seniors in Penacook and Boscawen live a flexible life

Brenda Bartlett, left, and Lawre Murphy work with seniors at their class at the Boscawen Town Library on Feb. 5.

Brenda Bartlett, left, and Lawre Murphy work with seniors at their class at the Boscawen Town Library on Feb. 5. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

By RAY DUCKLER

Monitor staff

Published: 02-12-2024 10:29 AM

The latest candidate for the Monitor’s Hometown Hero award, Lawre Murphy of Boscawen, strongly believed that her partner in keeping seniors on their toes, Brenda Bartlett, deserved the honor more than she did.

Bartlett happened to be the woman who submitted Murphy’s name in the first place, with both citing the other’s contributions to the senior community in Boscawen, Penacook and surrounding towns.

They share responsibility for teaching the Bone Builders class, sponsored by the Friends’ Program, at the Boscawen Public Library. They’re also sharing the Monitor’s Hometown Hero award this week.

They work with some who haven’t yet reached retirement age, but their core group includes seniors from 65 years old into their 80s. They’re taught to stretch, bend, reach, balance, move, weight train, anything and everything that can stop or reverse osteoporosis and improve muscle strength.

Other benefits, such as increased energy levels and improved mental health, are also part of the formula.

Bartlett nominated Murphy, saying, “I started it when the library opened and we had a program that introduced us to Bone Builders, but I could not go all the time after a while and she kept it going for years and has 30 people each week.”

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To which Murphy said, “I still run it and it started in 2014, but the person who started it was Brenda Bartlett. It was not me.”

Credit aside, both are on the ground floor of a program that has a clientele that features many loyal participants. The program, which has branches across the Granite State, allows seniors to move at their own pace. Some, like disabled participants, often take a break and then rejoin the workouts.

As for Murphy’s role, Bartlett says her colleague goes above and beyond what is needed.

“Lawre also checks up on people who don’t show up for our sessions to see if they need help,” Bartlett wrote on her nomination sheet. “She has been keeping the Bone Builders program going at the Boscawen library for years and is also helpful with getting notices on the sign board in front of the town office building.”

Meanwhile, Murphy noted Bartlett’s contributions, such as her volunteer work for the Boscawen Fire Department’s Ladies Auxiliary for 60 years. Her volunteerism in other areas has led to a book fund for high school graduates who plan to attend college. She’s made homemade quilts for Community Bridges and has logged 3,000 volunteer hours making medical walker tote bags.

“I don’t deserve it; I hardly do anything,” Murphy said. “There are so many other people in town who do way more than I do. I would be embarrassed.”

And while both want to give credit to the other when it comes to volunteer work and caring for senior citizens, both say the time involved is satisfying and rewarding, no matter who gets the credit.

“I got into it, and once I was there I fell in love with the ladies,” Murphy said. “There were widows and they were at home a lot. This social aspect was as important as the physical aspect. It’s all very important.”