Networking can be difficult. Handing out business cards like candy, regurgitating your elevator pitch, persuading others of your worth; it can often feel like you aren’t making any genuine connections. The Network of Possibility, founded by executive coach Dr Kim Vella, offers an alternative.
The network is a philanthropic initiative that unites community-minded professionals who want to use their time, energy and skills to give back and learn, all while making authentic, lasting connections. In their first event back of 2018 the Network presents an intimate gathering with Sarah Kelly, President of Karinya House, a local organisation supporting vulnerable and at-risk pregnant and early parenting women.
Sarah is a true inspiration, having tirelessly advocated for Karinya House for well over a decade. Over the course of her professional career Sarah has worked for Prime Minister and Cabinet, Foreign Affairs and Trade and many private sector organisations. She is also passionate about fashion and style and is an accomplished emcee.
Attendees will have the chance to hear from and ask questions of Sarah at the gathering taking place on Tuesday 1 May 2018 at the Commonwealth Club in Yarralumla. Among two other charities, YWCA Canberra and Toora Women Inc., the Network raises funds for Karinya House through net proceeds from each event as well as an auction of items available to bid on during the night.
Ahead of Tuesday’s event, we caught up with Sarah Kelly to find out more about her work with Karinya House.
Leiden: How is your leadership facilitating change and growth at Karinya House?
Sarah: Every woman we support, every staff member we employ, every committee member assisting us on a voluntary basis — all make up the ever changing landscape of Karinya House. I see my role as ensuring that each individual is both contributing and benefiting from our relationship — we have an enormous responsibility to take care of vulnerable pregnant women in crisis. This can be so very difficult to do, but by ensuring that our staff are trained and passionate means we are on the right path.
We have been supporting women for 20 years and this is a testament in itself to us doing something right in our community but this of course brings with it the need for Karinya to adapt to the needs of our vulnerable clients. I am always focused on maintaining the level of care and support we provide to these women by having like-minded individuals on our committee that are passionate to our cause and we complement each other with a skill set that gives the greatest support to the staff at Karinya House and represents Karinya House to a high standard in the community. I feel humbled to be a part of this incredible and talented family!
L: What are your hopes and aspirations for a kinder, more caring community towards mothers with babies and young children?
S: The support that exists for Karinya House is already overwhelming by those in the Canberra community that see the real need that we address each day — pregnant and parenting women in crisis. Homelessness, drug abuse, domestic violence — so many women coming to us from these dark places in their lives. I believe that the community’s current awareness is heightened due to exposure of many women’s plights in the media.
Being a local charity and having only half our current funding supported by the ACT Government, the most overwhelming challenge is for us to meet our financial targets to sustain our operation into the future. Not only for this financial year, but for so many to come. I think that knowledge and awareness is key — those that support our work know of the drastic difference we are making to women’s lives.
I aspire to, in my role, raise the level of awareness that so many more in our community will know of us and the work we do and want to support us financially on an ongoing basis. This peace of mind gives us the opportunity to focus more on the welfare of our women in crisis rather than the constant work to keep our vital organisation operating and growing.
L: As a role model and mentor for other women, what is your vision for the future?
S: I am passionate about Karinya House and its work, first and foremost because I am a mother. Every mother has an insight into the journey of another. I believe so very strongly in women supporting each other — I love the varying friendships I share with so many women in my life — the unspoken word or bond that is not articulated but you feel it in just the very presence of another woman by your side.
My vision is to have this continue with all women continuing to see the need to support one another and to particularly be sensitive to their life journey and the struggles it presents. This of course, is apparent for all of us, not just those women we support at Karinya House.
We are supported by the girls at St Clare’s College where my daughter Edwina is in Year 12. I believe passionately in their support as I love witnessing the energy and love of life they have coupled with a great social conscience. This gives me such inspiration to keep working tirelessly for Karinya and keep talking of the vision of all women — that the girls at school know that they can do what they set out to achieve and what they are passionate about. And most importantly, to never compromise their very self in life and in love.
L: You have passionately pursued your goals and commitment to Karinya House, what strategic risks have you taken to help you achieve success?
S: I think that I have taken strategic ‘action’ in my life with regards to Karinya House, not particularly ‘risks’. Having lived in Canberra all my life, and having worked in Government before children, I have long standing connections with people in community and government. This, in conjunction with the current staff’s relationships with Government, has benefitted our strategic planning going forward.
I also have a passion for fashion and have managed to live this part of my life separately to Karinya House. This of course, makes life complex and exciting having a few different faces, but I would hope that the other faces that I am, have in turn, aided to the exposure and work of Karinya House. The contacts I have in business, media and government have been forged into strong relationships that have been an asset when representing Karinya House and telling its story.
L: How have you sustained your energy and passion for Karinya House and the various roles you’ve played at it across the years?
S: My sustained energy and passion comes from each and every woman we support at Karinya House. They are my inspiration. Their story is my inspiration. They experience incredible trauma and hardship and question their life decisions. To witness them become mothers, see them experience love, support and direction in their lives and to have the strength to make incredible change, only makes me want to give more of myself to Karinya House each day. Each woman and every human being deserves a bright future and a brighter future for their child. If I can be a part of just one woman’s story that is enough for me!
If you would like to hear more from the inspirational Sarah Kelly and the work of Karinya House as well as connect with like-minded people, please join us at the next Network of Possibility event.
Network of Possibility
Tuesday May 1, 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
25 Forster Crescent
Net Proceeds from the evening will be donated to Karinya House.
A number of incredible items will be up for auction on the night with proceeds from bids going to Karinya House, YWCA Canberra or Toora Women Inc.