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Announcing your 2023 Westfield Local Hero

We are excited to announce Sharon Stewart from PAWS Pet Therapy Inc as your 2023 Westfield Local Hero for Liverpool!

Westfield is proud to award a community grant of $20K to help Sharon and PAWS Pet Therapy Inc to continue to grow their impact in the local community

The 2023 Westfield Local Heroes program will award 126 grants across Australia and New Zealand – totalling $1.26 million to support local communities.

Nominations for the 2024 Westfield Local Heroes program are open now. If you know someone who's making an impact, nominate them as a Westfield Local Hero - nominate here.

Your 2023 Westfield Liverpool Local Hero is:

Sharon Stewart

PAWS Pet Therapy

Genuine, Kind, Caring

Sharon Stewart combines her love of helping others with her life-long passion for animals to bring a ray of sunshine to hundreds of people.

Sharon is the founder and CEO of PAWS Pet Therapy, which trains and supports volunteer humans and their dogs to visit people with a range of needs.

The volunteers and their dogs give non-judgmental companionship to lonely people, those in palliative care, those with mental health issues and children with schooling challenges.

A therapy dog's calming and unconditional love can help people feel connected, supported and reassured.

Sharon gave up a 30-year nursing career to start her charity. She works closely with carers and families to understand the needs of each client. These can include social engagement for children with autism or reminiscence in older people. For mental health inpatient programs, relaxing and engaging with a friendly dog can be a weekly highlight.

At schools, Sharon runs dog-assisted reading programs and a Mate at the Gate program for kids needing support to get into the classroom.

Sharon is grateful to be nominated as a Westfield Local Hero. “PAWS means a lot to many people. Volunteers enjoy the feelgood and social benefits, and clients benefit psychologically and physiologically,” she says.

PAWS Pet Therapy will use its funds to recruit and train additional volunteers and to subsidise visits for those in need.

We'd like to thank and acknowledge our finalists who will receive a $5K grant for the organisation they represent...

Grace Fava from Autism Advisory and Support Service

Grace Fava OAM is the CEO and founder of Autism Advisory and Support Service, which helps and empowers hundreds of children and adults with autism. Her current passion is developing new ways to help adults with autism gain employment. Her vision is to demonstrate how employing a person with autism adds value to organisations.

Kim Kelly from The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation

Kim Kelly is Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation, where she has spent over 20 years supporting the education of First Nations, refugee and other students. One of Kim’s standout programs is the Breakfast Library, providing breakfast and free books to more than 2,800 students.

If you need support, please phone Lifeline: 13 11 14

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