For many parents, losing a child is their worst fear. When Patti McFaull lost her 15-year-old daughter Erin in a car accident, she turned her grief into action. In recognizing the global impact of her organization “Erin’s Gift of Hope,” McFaull was named New Jersey’s Heartland Hero for August of 2019.
“Erin’s Gift of Hope” is a nonprofit organization that aims to continue the work of missions that her daughter was involved in. Since 2007, McFaull has brought together high school and college students from the local community and taken them on national and international week-long missions. So far, the group has been to Belize; New Orleans, LA; the mountains of West Virginia; Littleton, NC; Chattanooga, TN; Myrtle Beach, SC; Chicago, IL; Brick, NJ; and Machias, ME. Their work has centered around rebuilding and repairing homes, running Vacation Bible School and sports programs, and serving the needy in any way they can.
McFaull’s organization is interfaith, with volunteers identifying as Methodists, Catholics, Baptists, and even skeptics. She has kept Erin’s legacy alive by doing the faith-based work her daughter was so passionate about while giving young people in the Pitman area opportunities to give back to underserved communities. As she writes on her organization’s website, “[Erin’s] life on this earth was cut short on September 24th, 2005, but her energy and love for others continues in the lives of those who knew her. We now pick up where she left off in helping those in need, giving a smile and a hug to a child, or a word of encouragement to a discouraged family.”
While New Jersey’s Heartland is filled with hidden gems, its biggest treasures are the people who make the region a great place to live, work, play, and raise a family. All Heartland Heroes receive a Heartland Heroes Certificate and Gift Basket in recognition of their award. To nominate your Heartland Hero, visit njheartland.org/live/heartland-heroes-nomination-form/.