Top Lions honour for ‘whirlwind’
She’s been called ‘the whirlwind of Mullumbimby’, and just a few minutes in her presence is enough for us lesser mortals to be blown away by her unflagging energy and enthusiasm for jumping in and getting involved in a huge variety of situations.
Last week Kim Mitchell was awarded the Lions Club’s highest form of recognition, the Melvin Jones Fellow, for dedication to humanitarian services.
“Apparently my name is on a wall in New York somewhere,” said Kim off-handedly, and it’s unlikely she’ll get to see that honour any time soon, given that all the money the family earns goes into helping those less fortunate, rather than on holidays and travel.
Kim and her husband moved to Mullumbimby 10 years ago, drawn to a community they felt would be a good place to bring up their four children.
But it didn’t take long before the family had grown, with the addition of ‘three or four foster children’ over five years, as well as an almost continuous stream of teenagers who stayed overnight, or for three or four weeks, or even a year.
Kim’s house, just opposite the high school in Mullumbimby, has become something of a safe haven for young people kicked out of home, or whose homes are chaotic or unstable, or left alone because a single mother suddenly wants to go off and ‘find herself’ somewhere.
It seems there is always room for just one more, in a home where love and tolerance are more important than apple pie order, and flowing from a childhood of loving parents in a house always full of people where ‘pot luck teas’ were the order of the day.
“I want to see kids going in the right direction – it’s just my motherly instinct,” said Kim.
“And I think it’s been good for our kids too, and they’re better people for having an understanding of life’s little problems.”
Kim has also been the driving force behind Mullum Rouge, a ladies group that formed seven years ago when mothers sitting outside daughters’ dance classes realised they wanted to be part of the action too, and over the years the entertainers have raised $50,000 for local charity organisations. Each year she leads a team of talented kids from Mullumbimby High School to compete in the Rock Eisteddfod Challenge, a team that normally comes back with a load of awards.
Kim is a familiar figure at the high school, not only for her work as Rock Eisteddfod coach, but also as having been a first contact for truancy in the welfare team, as well as helper in special education.
On top of all that, she works in catering, with a wedding reception for 600 next on the agenda, and all part of what she takes in her giant stride.