Two Bradley students were honored at the Women in Leadership conference downtown last week.
Michelle Kosner and Brandi Arnold were recognized for starting the nonprofit organization Paws Giving Independence and were two of only 25 women in the Central Illinois area to be honored.
The group rescues dogs from shelters in the Peoria area and trains them to do tasks for disabled people such as turning on lights and picking up objects.
Dogs eligible for the program must have a certain temperament among other criteria. Once approved, the dogs are placed into foster homes. The dogs are also trained to deal with people in wheelchairs and people with braces.
The tasks trained dogs can do include picking things up off the ground, opening doors, turning on and off light switches and providing stability, Kosner, a physical therapy graduate school student said.
Brandi Arnold, a senior nursing student, said she is happy the group has been able to make such an impact on the community.
“We volunteered at a similar organization up in Chicago,” she said. “We felt the Peoria area would benefit from the same service.”
Paws Giving Independence was started last year, and Kosner said it has picked up rapidly.
“We’ve been getting more foster homes and volunteers, but right now we need more recipients that would benefit from receiving the dogs,” she said.
Dogs ages 6 months to 1.5 years are rescued from shelters and placed in foster homes for three to six months before they are placed in their new owner’s home.
The conference was held downtown at the Pere Marquette Hotel where recipients met, had lunch and had their biographies posted and discussed.
The award has been offered annually for the last nine years to 25 Peoria women who strive to better themselves, their work, their families and their community.
The judges included a group of business leaders who based their decisions on the winners by the examples the nominators gave about how the women excelled in leadership.
The Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce, The Marketeer Magazine and WEEK Channel 25 News sponsored the award.