Kyrah Klika is not only a rock star.
The Chippewa Falls vice president for $1.21 billion asset WESTconsin Credit Union, headquartered in Menomonie, Wis., is also a champion for personal financial literacy and poverty awareness.
Klika knows that some crucial pieces of information and understanding of certain topics can be the difference between living paycheck to paycheck and putting a down payment on a house.
She knows that life can throw curveballs at families that are otherwise responsible with their money and thoughtful with their decisions. She also knows that no matter how bad things are, individuals often can take steps to make things better—if they only know how.
“Poverty is not a choice,” Klika says. “It is something that anyone can fall into. It can become a never-ending cycle, but it is not a choice.”
Though she doesn’t talk about it often, Klika experienced financial challenge and hardship. The first person in her family to go to college, Klika showed up on campus with $300, no financial aid, and the sudden realization that she needed to get a job to remain a student.
Before that, when she was in high school, her family lost their home to foreclosure due to income loss when her father experienced complications from a medical procedure.
Yet Klika did graduate from college, and her family did get back on their feet and in a home because they had support—from family, friends, and their credit union—that included useful information and awareness of what to do and how to do it.
Klika says her personal experiences are just part of what motivates her to forge partnerships between
WESTconsin and local organizations including United Way, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, Chippewa Valley Technical College, and local chambers of commerce to raise awareness and address regional poverty.
She also believes improving people’s lives through better financial decisions is what credit unions are all about.
“I was just so drawn to credit unions because I could see how much they were helping others,” she says.
Klika encourages credit union employees to make a bigger deal about the difference they make in members’ lives.
“The credit union movement needs to be louder,” she says.