Noreen Corrigan-Murphy doesn't like spending a lot of money but she thinks nothing of giving plenty of it away.
Corrigan-Murphy, who turned 74 Jan. 16, is by her own admission economical with her earnings.
After raising 10 children, including two foster children, while working part-time as a cook, Corrigan-Murphy put in five years working for the province in home care looking after seniors.
Then, at 49, she became a businesswoman that would always do her best to keep spending and debt to a minimum.
She converted a house on Ellis Road in Charlottetown to Corrigan Lodge, a resident care home. She grew her business "in steps''. She expanded the building twice, increasing the capacity to 17 residents.
Ten years after opening Corrigan Lodge, she bought another building that she named Corrigan Home. She also, with care, expanded twice at this location making room for up to 28 residents.
Corrigan-Murphy would never cut corners when it came to the safety, comfort or care of the residents, but she sure knew how to minimize costs.
She has always done the shopping for groceries for Corrigan Lodge and Corrigan Home. Vegetables grown at her home in Ten Mile House, where her late husband George tended a mixed farm, remain a steady part of the much-enjoyed home-cooked meals served to her residents.
Corrigan-Murphy would often take care of repairs to the buildings but George took care of most of the maintenance. George was also involved in the financial end of the business as well.
For many years, Corrigan-Murphy put in long hours, typically working 10 hours a day, seven days a week.
"I'm not scared of work . . . I worked 24 hour days lots of time,'' she says. "I was very frugal.''
Still, her business has been quite a success. She has made more than she has any need or interest to spend. So she gives back.
Last year, Corrigan-Murphy donated $100,000 for the creation of the Noreen and George Corrigan Scholarship Fund. The fund supports P.E.I. residents under the age of 30 who are either single mothers or individuals who have a learning disability to enrol in post-secondary education.
Recently, she donated another $100,000, this time to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
"I don't know when I'm going to be in there,'' she noted. "Noreen has always been a generous and kind annual donor to our hospital," says Barb Dunphy of the QEH Foundation. "This generous gift of $100,000 will a make lasting difference for Island families."
Corrigan-Murphy is also establishing a whopping $500,000 education fund for her 16 grandchildren and her future great grandchildren. Corrigan-Murphy, who didn't go beyond Grade 9, clearly puts great value in her loved ones getting a good education.
"If you educate them, you don't have to feed them,'' she says.
While her business has been a financial success, Corrigan-Murphy finds more rewarding the opportunity to provide a loving and caring environment that maximizes the independence of the residents while at the same time ensuring their safety and comfort.
"I just love these people,'' she says. "I really do. I can't wait to get in here.''
At 74, Corrigan-Murphy has cut back her work, now putting in about 25 hours a week. She still gets the groceries, pays the bills and, most importantly, visits with the residents.