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An Accounting of Creativity

What do tap dancing, Lego, Star Trek and accounting have in common? It may seem like an incongruent list but if you’re Kelly Beaulieu, these things go together beautifully.

Kelly serves as the chief financial officer (CFO) for Communitas Supportive Care Society, a faith-based, non-profit organization that serves people from across BC who live with disabilities. In some ways, Kelly conforms to the stereotype of accountants: numbers are her happy place.

“I love accounting,” she says. “I love month-end and year-end. I love making things reconcile – it’s what I’m good at.”

But Kelly also needs work that is meaningful and presents her with challenges. Prior to working with Communitas, she worked as an auditor of non-profits and registered charities. After doing this work for more than ten years, she felt she needed a change.

“I wanted to find out what it was like to be on the other side, to actually work for a registered charity.”

She did her research and was drawn to Communitas because the organization shares her Christian faith and she appreciated its mission, vision and values, in particular the value of the sacredness of human life. Having been here now for nearly three years, she says the best, accounting part of her job is interacting with the people served by Communitas.

I like working in a place where people of all abilities are welcomed and valued. That’s important to me find more information. – Kelly

“I love the environment here,” she says. “I also find the staff and leadership so encouraging. It’s a good work environment.”

But while she enjoys her work very much, Kelly still needs creative outlets, which is where things like dancing come in to play. But not any kind of dancing.

“When I was little my mom put me in ballet but I was bored,” she recalls. “The next year, my mom put me in tap and I loved it.”

Tap dancing appeals to her need for ordered creativity: the sounds, the number of taps, the rhythm – all of it is structured and mathematical. As a child, her mother also introduced her to paint-by-number, which appealed to her need for instructions and patterns but also made her feel like an artist, further sparking the need to be creative.

It’s the same thing that draws her to Lego. While her children may “free form” with the famous coloured bricks, Kelly only makes what the patterns ask of her and she enjoys the entire process from sorting bricks, to building the pattern, to cleaning up.

“Half the fun of playing with Lego is organizing them into colour, shape and size,” she says.

And while a love of Star Trek (The Next Generation) may also seem to fit the “nerd” stereotype that follows accounting-types, it is not as much about the science fiction as it is about the big themes that the series tackles.

“Star Trek TNG focuses on a lot of big issues that highlight the value of the individual,” she explains.

Which ties back to Kelly’s connection with Communitas. There may be challenges in the day to day tasks that are part of her job and sometimes she feels stretched as she’s learning new skills in her role as CFO but at the end of that day, it’s always about the people Communitas serves and the people Communitas employs.

“I like working in a place where people of all abilities are welcomed and valued,” she says. “That’s important to me.”