Editor's Note: Newsday.com is catching up with former Long Island homecoming kings and queens to reflect on being named royalty and see what they are up to now. If you are a former Long Island high school homecoming king or queen and would like to participate, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sonia Murdock, née Genther, was crowned homecoming queen at Bay Shore High School in 1981. She was co-editor of the yearbook and helped organize class activities, including the homecoming parade.
“It was an exciting time,” Murdock recalled. “Bay Shore High School was — and still is — filled with lots of school spirit. There was a sense of community.”
The queen and her king, Matthew Hickey, were crowned at the homecoming game. Murdock said she had plenty of tough competition, so she was surprised to hear her name announced.
“I think it was a great honor to have been included,” she said.
Following graduation in 1982, Murdock went on to Roanoke College in Virginia, where she studied sociology. After that, she dabbled in a little bit of everything, including sales, fundraising, and even the marketing department at American Movie Classics (AMC).
Then, her career path took a sharp turn. Her sister began to experience postpartum psychosis and depression, and her family was at a loss.
“As a result of that experience, we found out that the medical community — as well as ourselves — are ignorant about what to do,” she said.
Murdock co-founded the Postpartum Resource Center of New York 20 years ago. The nonprofit is based in West Islip and serves as a parent support network. She is now the executive director of the organization.
“We didn’t want any other families to suffer like my family suffered,” she said.
The nonprofit provides information about postpartum, organizes events, and allows mothers to share their stories and connect. According to the website: "Moms and dads need to know you are not alone. You are not to blame. You will feel better and be well with help."
Murdock said that her family's story has a happy ending — her sister is doing well — and that's why she has continued to work so hard for this cause. With such a personal attachment to her work, Murdock considers the resource center "the most important” milestone she has achieved.
“I just feel so fortunate to be able to serve and give back in this way, and help other people in a time of crisis,” she said.
Murdock now resides in Islandia, but if she could go back to her Bay Shore days and offer some advice to that 1981 homecoming queen, it would be straightforward: “Always persevere.”