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February Pay It Forward: Helping families through their grief

Jacki Kelsch of Handy Hands Reflections hugs Angela Nelson with Mountain America Credit Union after receiving a Pay It Forward.

When you're grieving a loss, sometimes it's the small things such as a scrapbook that mean the most. Handy Hands Reflections, a Boise 501c3 charity, offers the scrapbooks free.

The pages are personalized, reflecting the person who died, and ready to be filled by the family with their own photographs and memories.

Over the last decade, Handy Hands volunteers have put together 1,123 scrapbooks.

One of them was presented to Andrea Tully and her family. Their son, Clay, died in an accident near Swan falls on his graduation night.

“He was a funny kid who liked to be outdoors, liked to be adventurous,” Andrea remembered as she flipped through her own scrapbook now filled with photos. She said it took a while to finish the scrapbook. “It was kind of hard at first because you're telling a story ... of your child's life and that's just hard.”

But now she is grateful for the gift. “We can go back and look at it. It doesn't necessarily make it easier, but we can at least have those memories of the things they did together.”

Jacki Kelsch is the founder of Handy Hands Reflections and the recipient of the Mountain America Credit Union “Pay It Forward” for February.

Handy Hands survives and thrives on volunteers and donations. Nearly everything in the shop is donation by local businesses and individual scrapbooking enthusiasts.

And what they create is something that can be touch and held. Their scrapbooks make memories accessible. Often the family leave them out on a table.

Jacki said, “It spells out their life's story and it's right there.” She said it is so much easier to look through a scrapbook than try to find a digital picture stored on a smartphone or computer. “You don’t have to – ‘Oh, I know that picture is here somewhere...’ because you've got thousands of pictures there.”

“Every time I give an album to a family, I just know how much it means to them ... I know what a blessing these are to the families,” Jacki said.

Andrea added, “It brings comfort, for sure. It's comforting to know that I will have this for the rest of my life. We don't want our child forgotten.”

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