'We lost everything': Mate helps others after own heartache
KYLIE Lynch's first home was bulldozed after it was eaten to the bone by termites; months later her second house was destroyed by muddy floodwaters.
When her mother died suddenly in October, she battled through personal heartache to take in and care for three foster children - left alone again.
Throughout her life, Ms Lynch has put the needs of others before her own.
The caring, hard-working, straight-shooting Ipswich mum has been nominated as Australia's Greatest Mate.
Launched this month by national veterans organisation Mates4Mates, Australia's Greatest Mate encourages Australians to celebrate the strength of mateship while raising awareness of the battles veterans and families face.
Kylie Conroy believes there is no more deserving mate than Ms Lynch, her friend of 23 years.
When Ms Conroy lost her job in Yeppoon, she was effectively homeless, forced to return to Brisbane with nothing.
Ms Lynch and her husband Clive put a roof over her head and rescued her possessions.
"My things were still in Yeppoon. One Friday, Kylie and Clive, decided to drive to get them - a 20-hour round trip," Ms Conroy said.
"I wouldn't have got my things back without them, it was going to cost me $1000.
"I think it was a pretty outstanding thing to do."
For the past eight years, Ms Lynch has battled a rollercoaster of emotions.
In 2010, she was forced to bulldoze her home when it was destroyed by termites.
Months later, in 2011, her two-storey home at North Booval was flooded to the roof.
"I cried myself to sleep every night. I cried when I woke up," she said.
"We lost everything.
"Losing the kid's paintings they did when they were in pre-school - you'll never get those back."
In October, Ms Lynch's world was rocked again when her mother died of cancer.
"My mum was foster kinship carer for my two nieces and one nephew," she said.
"She had been their foster carer since they were babies."
With the three kids needing new guardians, Ms Lynch and her sister stepped up to raise the teenagers.
"Circumstances have turned out now that as of March, Clive and I have custody."
Despite the loss of her mother, Ms Lynch did not hesitate to put the teenagers' needs first.
The bubbly mother said it was her nature to help others.
"It is really difficult at times but I don't want to end up wallowing in it and continue to make the best of my life as I can," she said. "What does get me through and keep me happy is the friends I have."
Winners are announced August 6.