Eulogy for Shannon Nelson [ by Helen Mulder: Shannon's close friend and work colleague, Salvation Army Employment Plus ]

Many of you will be here today because of your association with Shannon through The Salvation Army Employment Plus.  It is 16 years since I first met Shannon where she was the Job Club Leader at Employment 2000 in Catherine Street in Morley - as it was then known. Over the many years Shannon worked there she fulfilled various roles. Everything Shannon did was inflected with her creative flair.  Her Job Club room was a place of encouragement and hope and was adorned with her meticulous hand written script and colour coded files.  Her attention and care to detail was in a very practical way a message of her commitment to the people she worked with as she fostered and nurtured many of them along their way to meaningful employment.

For many years Shannon was the official 'staff representative' for any staff debriefing or counselling &endash; a role which she continued 'unofficially' right through to the end of her employment.  She was an excellent listener, gave wise counsel if it was sought and was a trusted and reliable confidante.  Although it seems a terrible injustice that Shannon's contribution to Employment Plus ceased at a time not of her own choosing, to her credit she continued to work for The Salvation Army as a phone counsellor with Salvo Careline until right up to the time of her initial hospitalisation earlier this year.

All of us were touched by her flamboyant personality.  Although in more recent times with various health concerns, her mobility was reduced as was her desire to be out and about socialising.  She could still command an audience and any conversation with her terrific ready wit and colourful, hilarious stories.  On a number of occasions Shannon's literary skills came to the fore and on one particular Christmas she penned words to a couple of well known Christmas Carols using various excuses Job Seekers had used for non attendance at interviews.  How we laughed as we gathered in the staff room at Catherine Street.  Her humour was a great form of release and entertainment to us all.

She made us smile, I can picture her sweeping through the corridors of Catherine Street with her spectacularly co-ordinated accessories and glorious flaming hair, her lilting tones as she lapsed into Irish phrases, her infectious throaty chuckle.  Shannon was intelligent and kind hearted, a beautiful woman who encouraged and gave of herself, her time and talents but demanded little attention for herself - content to observe the rest of us muddling along, never judging but always there when she was needed.  I hope that she knew that we were also there for her even though seldom called upon as she preferred her privacy and guarded her independence.


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