Ally's How To Host A Murder mystery dinner

Andrew Harrison climbed on board this week to help Mind Blank founder and volunteer Ally Kelly. Picture: GREG ELLIS
Andrew Harrison climbed on board this week to help Mind Blank founder and volunteer Ally Kelly. Picture: GREG ELLIS

Mind Blank founder Ally Kelly runs a volunteer organisation that talks about mental health with youth.

But Ms Kelly has traditionally held down several jobs so she can afford to live while she voluntarily runs the charity that uses drama to reach and open up a discussion with high school students.

Every spare minute she has is devoted to Mind Blank but she still needs to put food on the table.

So Ms Kelly has started doing what she loves most outside her charity work by offering her services as a wedding, lounge and functions singer.

She mostly sings jazz and when local businesses such as the Lagoon and Seacliff restaurants heard about her need for work they offered her some regular gigs.

"I am still very much focused on Mind Blank but this is tapping into my creative outlet more to earn an income and help balance myself," she said.

"This is just taking my singing a little more serious and trying to get some more bookings so I can earn a living. I love jazz ballads and Gershwin is one of my favourites. I like the 1920s, 30s and 40s."

Next Friday she gets to step back in time to her favourite era for a How To Host A Murder mystery dinner under the theme Last Train From Paris.

This week Brad Johns gave her a chance to practise on old steam trains and carriages run by another volunteer organisation, Illawarra Light Railway Museum, which is open to the public on the second Sunday of every month.

And this Friday, a table of business leaders is joining her in support of all she does in the community.

It coincides with her making the finals of an international competition recognising young leaders.

Fellow JCI Illawarra chapter member David McKenna nominated Ms Kelly for the Junior Chamber International 10 Most Outstanding Young Persons of the World initiative and she has been named a semi-finalist.

"There are three from Australia," she said. "People vote on Facebook for the 20. But to get into the top 10 it is a Cloud favourite so whoever votes it is the most popular ones here who get into the top 10. Then the person who finishes at No 1 gets flown to Germany for World Congress to tell the story about their organisation."

Ms Kelly said the opportunities provided by the business leaders this year had certainly lifted her spirits after a break-in at the Mind Blank offices late last November rocked her confidence and was a real setback.

But now with the help of people such as Andrew Harrison, Jonni Nicolaou and Brad Johns she feels she is getting back on track.

She was so happy to hop on a 1930s rail carriage and an old stream engine at Illawarra Light Rail Museum this week to get in some practice for her August 15 performance at Seacliff Restaurant.

Ms Kelly said she started 2014 with renewed hope after people such as Lube Markovski, of Hairhouse Warehouse, and Michael Baines, of BaiMed Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic, came to her aid after the November burglary in which equipment worth thousands of dollars was stolen.

Mind Blank has no paid staff and many of the volunteers like Ms Kelly work multiple jobs so the non-profit organisation can continue to take its message to schools using drama.

Some of the actors will perform during the Last Train From Paris on Friday.

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