In Honor of Erin Peterson

They wanted to plant a tree in honor of Erin Peterson. A visual reminder of her spirit of hard work and joy. And the perfect location for the tree was in the Habitat neighborhood named in memory of Ms. Peterson, one of the victims of the tragic Virginia Tech shooting in 2007.  So one morning last May, the Loudoun Class of 2014 journeyed out to the small community of St. Louis to set roots for this memorial in the small Habitat subdivision.


Two groups in the Leadership Loudoun Class of 2014 partnered on this project that involved the establishment of a small memorial at the entrance of the neighborhood, to include a bench, memorial plaque, tree, and landscaping. The groups also help with the construction of the final house being built in the neighborhood.

“Our goal is to honor the memory of Erin Peterson in a visual way,” stated participant Ginia Hildreth. “We wanted to add a little extra so that others can remember her, too.” She also noted that long-time Leadership Loudoun supporter and leadership development coach Walt Hogan is the uncle of Ms. Peterson. Mr. Hogan’s infectious spirit and never-say-never attitude encouraged the class to find a way to further support Ms. Peterson’s memory.

Team member James Johnson has a more personal connection to this effort: he grew up in a Habitat community in Radford, VA. “I was blessed that our family lived in a home built by Habitat for Humanity, in circumstances where we otherwise could not have afforded a home,” Mr. Johnson commented. “Until you do not have a place to live, you do not appreciate the importance of having a place to call your own and the confidence it gives you, even as a little child. I am one of the success stories.” Mr. Johnson’s personal testimony touched all of his classmates, and the opportunity to give back by supporting other families was an easy decision.

The memorial plaque, contains a quote about Ms. Peterson from her mother: “Our Dewdrop from Heaven, you changed the world, in life and death.”