Raising a family, running a business, working part time, and organising charitable endeavours might seem like too much for one person, but for Kelly Finch it’s all in a day’s work.
Kelly (along with her family) is the creator of “Broken Hill Blessing Bags” which gives packages of toiletries and similar items to people in need locally.
She moved to Broken Hill 10 years ago with her husband, Luke, whom she met as he lived on a property near her family’s own property.
“I grew up on a sheep and cattle property just north of White Cliffs. It’s the best life in the world,” Kelly said.
“My mum taught my brothers and me through School of the Air, which was over the radio, and we’d come to town a few times a year for our big sports day and for education week.
“It was a great way to learn, that one-on-one education, and mum was really good at what she did.”
Living on a station, Kelly did a lot of horse riding, and any chance she got she’d be up in the saddle.
She and her dad often travelled to compete in campdrafts and gymkhanas when they weren’t needed at the property.
“Shearing time was one of the busy times of the year, and crutching time, all our family would come up and we’d all be there together and be busy for a couple of weeks,” Kelly said.
As she got older Kelly looked to nearby White Cliffs for a job, and ended up as a teacher’s aide at White Cliffs Public School.
“It wasn’t something where I went, ‘when I grow up I want to be a teacher’; it was just a good job in town, but I really enjoy it. I love working with kids, and I’ve been working in schools for about 17 years now.
“The principal there is a great friend of mine and she really guided me and supported me, put me through a lot of training and helped me out along the way.”
Kelly and her husband Luke ended up moving to Broken Hill about ten years ago for Luke’s work, and around the same time had their first child.
“I took time off while our children, Jake and Zahli, were growing up, until they went to school.
“I wanted to do something with my other time, some volunteer work, but I didn’t know where to start.
“Then I came across the Vinnies meal centre and did some volunteer work down there preparing meals and serving which was really, really good.
“I really take my hat off to the volunteers down there. A lot of them are older ladies that go down there every day and give back to the community.”
Kelly and Luke eventually started their own local business, “Broken Hill Skip Bins” which had the couple busy again.
While Kelly didn’t have the time anymore to spend time at the meal centre, she still wanted to help out people less fortunate, which is where the “blessing bags” came in.
“We talked about it as a family and were initially fundraising amongst family and friends and were just getting bits and pieces, toiletries and things like that,” Kelly said.
“It’s just grown from there, and unfortunately the demand is there and there are people needing help.
“My daughter Zahli, she’s only eight but she’s been a huge instigator behind a lot of these. She spends her time when she’s not at school making up bags, sorting donations and emptying the bin. She’s been a really big part of it.
“Our donations were being distributed through the Vinnies meal centre, but now we’re getting more donations I’ve been able to branch out to provide bags to the hospital and the Catherine Haven Women’s Refuge as well.
“We tailor those packs a little bit, so those packs might have some cosmetics and stuff, just something a bit special to remind these people that there are people who care about them in the community.”
In the middle of all this Kelly makes time for her family as well.
Each year the Finch family picks a random spot on the map and off they go in their caravan.
“Some of our best times are spent exploring in our kayak,” Kelly said.
“One day we plan to travel indefinitely where I’ll teach the kids school along the way.
“I just love the simple things in life, which I guess comes from the way I grew up, and if we can all help someone out along the way then that’s a huge bonus.”