Debi McKinnis - Westfield Local Heroes 2020
Gifting precious memories
Heartfelt: Giving the Gift of Photographic Memories
Respectful. Thoughtful. Generous.
Debi McKinnis gently steps in to help when grieving families are facing their darkest times.
A professional photographer, she volunteers her time with Heartfelt, an organisation that gifts families who have experienced a stillbirth or have a child with a terminal illness with beautiful images of their child.
Over the past seven years, she has provided more than 100 free professional photographic sessions to families, who often consider the images their most treasured possessions.
Debi goes wherever it suits the family, whether it’s the hospital or their home.
She is the primary volunteer covering requests from Geelong Hospital but also travels to Melbourne if there is a family in need.
“The images are gentle and often the families have them on display. They create beautiful memories and help families remember their child and allow them to talk about their child,” Debi says.
Widely admired for her grace and generosity, Debi sometimes returns to the family to take more pictures, especially if other family members have travelled to be with them.
She feels humbled when a family reaches out to thank her for being there for them and their child.
“Being with families and creating gentle images of their child is a privilege,” Debi says.
Westfield Local Heroes are nominated and voted for by their communities, with the three top finalists per Westfield centre each awarded a $10,000 grant for their affiliated organisation. Heartfelt will use the grant to cover the cost of 133 photographic sessions and 11 cameras for hospitals to use when Heartfelt is not available.
For further information on the Westfield Local Heroes program, click here