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Make Your Mark: Anne O'Connor serves Minnesota with excellence

Anne O'ConnorThe mission of Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS), “to honor God by enriching the lives and touching the hearts of older adults,” is fulfilled when the actions of our employees demonstrate our stated values. In doing so, they “make their mark” upon those we serve. In our continuing series, “Make your Mark,” we introduce you to PHS employees who are living out these values.

Anne O’Connor, Campus Administrator at Carondelet Village in St. Paul, MN, takes the PHS core value of Service Excellence to the next level. As soon as the COVID-19 crisis began to unfold, she answered the call to serve Minnesota at the State Emergency Operations Center.

Having served with PHS since 2012, Anne has steadily made her mark, including playing a part on the PHS Emergency Preparedness Team. However, it was a request she made to PHS leadership only last year that hindsight now proves remarkable. Duane Larson, Senior Vice President of Site Operations, explains, “Anne had asked if PHS would allow her to be trained with the State through Command Center Communication. Now, during the COVID pandemic, Anne has been appointed to serve in the State Emergency Operations Center with National Guard representatives, emergency managers, the Governor’s chief of staff as well as point people from the state Department of Health. Who knew that with this training, she would be asked to represent the voice of long-term care deployment for the entire state?” He commends Anne for having “a significant gift to process large organization systems and visualize planning around those systems.” 

With that gifting, training and experience, Anne says — with a spirit of humility — she “feels a little more at home in a crisis.” She explains, “There’s urgency that drives swift decision-making. So, it’s trying to predict what the staffing issues will be in buildings and then trying to plan for how these will get filled. It’s connecting with the right stakeholders — for example, local public health personnel, emergency managers, Minnesota Department of Human Services and the great number of people who play a role.”

Anne’s sense of purpose keeps her going. She reflects, “I just always felt very safe in whichever spot I worked. So, I feel like [my purpose is] to either restore or maintain a sense of safety and security, because nothing feels normal right now.”

Even her kids see her purpose with awe. She relates, “One day my son saw me working on something, on my notebook, and he’s like, ‘So what is that?’ I said, ‘Well these are all the people that Mommy helped keep safe.’” She explained how these people were evacuated from Meridian Manor, an assisted living community with a COVID outbreak that needed help relocating residents, including many to PHS communities.

Her son replied, “Wow! They must be really lucky,” Anne smiled and thought, “Yes, I’m fulfilling my purpose.”

We’re immensely grateful to Anne as well as to Deb Waedt who is filling in as Campus Administrator at Carondelet Village. Duane Larson commends them both, adding, “PHS continues to support this important work to the state through this worldwide pandemic.”

Do you know someone looking for more purpose in their work? Share the good news and the many opportunities to make a mark at www.preshomes.org/careers.

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