GINA’S HOPE

Family of the late Gina Marie (McCauley) Ferguson, Grant Township, have organized a fundraiser in her honor to benefit victims of domestic violence. Proceeds raised will be donated to Hope Shores Alliance in Oscoda.

OSCODA – This past Sunday, Sept. 8, marked one year since the life of Gina Marie (McCauley) Ferguson, 55, Grant Township, was taken too soon.

The victim of a homicide which occurred in her home, authorities have reported that her husband admitted to the crime.

Gina’s sister Michele Ferguson, Lake Orion, said she wants all of the women and men who are in similar situations to know that they are not alone.

“Please let family, friends, your church or a local organization help you! You are loved and cared for beyond measure and enough is enough,” she stressed.

Ferguson – along with Gina’s son Caleb McCauley, East Tawas – have started a GoFundMe campaign in her honor. Entitled “Gina’s Hope,” the intent is to transform this into an annual fundraising event.

“My sister gave hope to everybody,” said Ferguson, adding that the goal of the campaign is to give hope to others who have been impacted by domestic violence. All proceeds raised will be donated to Hope Shores Alliance in Oscoda.

With September being the anniversary of Gina’s death, collections will be taken throughout the month. Ferguson and Caleb plan to then present the donation in person to Hope Shores Alliance, at the end of September.

According to its website, Hope Shores Alliance believes that everyone has the right to be safe, believed and supported. The organization is dedicated to providing judgement-free and empowerment-based services to survivors of sexual assault, stalking, dating violence and domestic violence.

Hope Shores Alliance provides a variety of services, including a 24-hour help and support line, advocacy, counseling, supportive listening, emergency shelter and long term housing. If you or someone you know is in need of such services, call 800-396-9129.

Ferguson says she has experienced a whirlwind of emotions since losing her sister – and only sibling – with these feelings intensifying as the anniversary date of Gina’s death drew closer. Despite this time of year having been especially difficult, the family is determined to help others like Gina.

According to Ferguson, people weren’t aware of how much help her sister needed, as she was afraid to speak out due to fear of repercussions.

Ferguson said she wants people in similar situations to know that there are resources and outlets for them which they should take advantage of, before another tragedy such as this occurs.

Ferguson adds that the fundraiser in remembrance of Gina may be on somewhat of a smaller scale this year, since it is the first time the family has arranged the campaign. However, the plan is to expand the effort in the future, turn it into an actual event and make it even bigger and better in the years to come.

Ferguson said she would love to host something in subsequent years, perhaps at Tawas City Shoreline Park, which was one of Gina’s beloved spots to visit.

In fact, as reported in the July 3 edition of the Iosco County News-Herald, her family planted a tree in her honor this past June at the park, with the Crimson King maple also being adorned by a plaque etched with Gina’s name and a pair of angel wings. It reads, “Time, Patience, and Perseverance until we are all together again...Love You More.”

Ferguson said she and Gina’s father always reminded them that they could face anything with time, patience and perseverance.  As for the last three words on the plaque, “Love You More” was a phrase Gina and the family often said to one another.

“She loved the water. That’s exactly where she would want to be,” Ferguson said at the time, of the placement of the tree near Lake Huron.

She added that Gina absolutely loved the Tawas area, which was a part of her life for more than 30 years.

According to information on the GoFundMe page, Ferguson and Caleb are inviting anyone who has been touched by Gina, or domestic violence, to donate in her remembrance.

“I don’t have words to describe the hole that has been left in my heart and our family. Gina was a beacon of HOPE. She gave HOPE to everyone she encountered,” Ferguson states on the page. “No matter what trials and tribulations they were going through she was always there with a smile and of course fresh baked cookies!!”

Ferguson has said previously that Gina was known throughout the community for hosting bake sales, garage sales and other events to support people in need.

As for the GoFundMe campaign, Ferguson says that she and Caleb delivering the proceeds to Hope Shores Alliance will be a way to honor their loved one and share Gina’s Hope with other women and their families.

“I know that she is smiling in heaven, with that twinkle in her eye, saying...ROCK THIS!!!!” Ferguson continues on the page. “Thank you for being a part of turning our family tragedy into Hope for others in need!”

She has described her sister as an amazing woman who believed in God, loved her family deeply and cared for her son beyond words.

Ferguson remarked that she’s not sure whether Gina was aware of the Oscoda branch of Hope Shores Alliance but, if she were, perhaps her story could have had a different ending.

A donation goal of $2,500 has been set, and anyone interested in contributing is asked to visit the Gina’s Hope GoFundMe page at http://www.gofundme.com/f/ginas-hope?.