Frances O’Connell was nominated by Richard Mussell, Chief Executive Officer of Animal Welfare League South Australia (AWL SA). Frances commenced volunteering at the Animal Welfare League South Australia (AWL SA) in August 2016 at the age of 22 as a Canine Calmer. Her love of animals, particularly dogs, motivated her to join in the hope to “make some friends and work better with the dogs”, and she has indeed achieved this in the two years she has been volunteering with AWL. Frances has always had a passion for dogs and grew up with an assistance dog; a Dalmatian named Jessica, which was her companion for 13 years.
As a Canine Calmer, Frances provides shelter dogs with important socialisation, toy play time, training and gentle grooming. In this role she excels. She researches the dogs she will be meeting the following day on the AWL website so she comes to sessions prepared. She also provides information about animal behaviour and health concerns to AWL team members and prospective adopters.
Like all nominees in this category, Frances is reliable, dedicated and passionate. She is the first person to volunteer and offer assistance. She makes herself available for fundraising events regardless of how far she has to travel and has represented AWL at events such as the Royal Adelaide Show and Rundle Mall promotion.
Frances is supported in her role, which has enabled her to develop skills and grow. She is supervised in tasks until she is competent to perform these. Her compassion for animals and enthusiasm for her role is infectious and has impacted other volunteers and AWL staff in a positive manner. Frances, a person with autism, has worked with AWL to overcome challenges. As processing information and prioritising tasks can be challenging, she is provided with structured tasks during daily morning staff meetings. She is provided with assistance until she is able to manage tasks unassisted.
The partnership between Frances and the AWL shows what incredible work volunteers are capable of if provided with appropriate, meaningful and engaging work.