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Help Somebody Spotlight: Erin Gardner, Connor’s Heroes

At the Community Foundation and ConnectVA, we are so excited to share more stories of individuals in our community doing great work, through the Help Somebody Hall of Fame.  Throughout the year, we are accepting nominations from the community at large and will highlight a compelling submission each month.  Once a quarter, we will select (at random) two people to receive a $1000 grant made in their name to give to a local nonprofit of their choosing.

This month we are highlighting Erin Gardner, who is the Program Coordinator at Connor’s Heroes.  The Executive Director of Connor’s Heroes, Celia Tetlow, reached out to us to share more about the great work Erin does in the community.

Celia said, “Erin is the heart and soul of our work at Connor’s Heroes. Her positive attitude and genuine desire to help others is truly inspiring. Erin goes above and beyond for our families to make sure they are not alone throughout their childhood cancer journey. She has proven to be an undeniable support during an unknown time for our families and continues to do so with a constant smile on her face!”

Here’s more about Erin and her work at Connor’s Heroes:

How does Erin demonstrate the spirit of the “Help Somebody Hall of Fame”?

Erin is the Program Coordinator for Connor’s Heroes, a local non-profit focused on providing hope, guidance, and support for children with cancer and their families. She is adept at connecting with children and families to identify needs and utilize resources to meet these needs with genuine empathy, concern, and interest during a very difficult time in their life. She is the face of Connor’s Heroes and enjoys meeting and engaging with all our wonderful patients, their families, and the volunteers.

She spends her time in the clinic making crafts with our patients as they wait for their chemotherapy and treatments to begin. Every Thursday she brings lunch to families on the pediatric floor of VCU always with the biggest smile on her face. Erin continuously looks out for our patients and provides them with a level of comfort when they need it the most. Whether it is a parking pass for a family who has a lengthy stay in the hospital or dropping off an iTunes gift card to a patient to brighten their day, Erin is a huge asset not only to Connor’s Heroes but to all of our families. She finds ways for kids to be kids, provides an extra hand in time of need, and makes sure a family’s stay in the hospital feels more like home.

What is the impact of Erin’s generosity?

When I have spoken to families about Erin, their eyes light up. You can tell the relationship and bond that Erin creates with these families surpasses any physical gift she brings them. It is her energy, sincerity, and overall positive attitude that makes her so special. One of our families said that Erin has supported them ever since diagnosis. Her three boys regularly ask about going to art sessions when the next tacky light tour is going to happen or if Miss Erin will be at clinic to talk and do art projects with them. She said Erin and Connor’s Heroes helps them feel as close to pre-cancer normal as possible. When talking to another mom, she associated Erin with love and support since the first time they heard the words “Your child has cancer” to now, 2 years off treatment. She has provided a fuller grocery cart when they needed it most and fuller hearts when they were hurting most. Erin is family to us. Erin’s smile is contagious and her willingness to help others is truly an inspiration.

Erin does not do the good work for recognition. She genuinely cares for these children and their families. She’s making a difference in our community and we are forever grateful for all she does!

About the Help Somebody Hall of Fame

The Help Somebody Hall of Fame is a platform to express gratitude for a person in the community who acts selflessly to improve the lives of others.  We want to share these stories in hope of inspiring more people in Greater Richmond to act with generosity.  There will be random drawing from those who are honored, and two honorees will select a nonprofit of their choice to receive $1000.  Read more about how to nominate someone here.

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