If life were a song, Sherie Klassen formerly of rural Goessel, would have no trouble reading the notes and making beautiful music. The talented 34-year-old musician has been doing that since she was old enough to walk, often performing flute and piano pieces at church and social functions.
Life is not a song to be played however, and two years ago Klassen found herself struggling to deal with a disability, overburdened with debt, and alone. Circles of Hope of Harvey County gave her a way up and out of the cycle of poverty that had become her constant companion.
“I’ve pretty much been a loner all my life,” Klassen said. “My parents helped me as much as they could, but I needed so much more.”
A recent graduate of the Circles of Hope program, and a member of the resource committee helping to establish other groups and connections for others in need, Klassen said she learned so much from the classes she took and the coaches and allies assigned to help her through the program.
“It was hard for me to interact with other people,” Klassen said. “So the intentional relationships that were established were especially meaningful to me.”
Klassen became involved in the program at the suggestion of her caseworker at Prairie View.
“There was an application process, and then I got a coach,” she said. “My coach helped find allies who had things in common with me and they all helped me in so many ways.”
Klassen said one of her allies was Stan Bohn, who along with his wife, Anita, enjoyed classical music.
“They took me to concerts, gave me a ride when I needed to see my credit counselor, and helped me get places I needed to go,” she said. “Just going out to eat once a week and enjoying the fellowship with them was so important to me.”
It’s possible that the connections Klassen made through the Circles program helped her get a job as a housecleaner.
“We had these inspections and they noticed my apartment was always clean,” she said. “I was able to use those skills and get a job as a housecleaner for Wheatland Homes.”
Because she is not allowed to drive a car, Klassen still relies on Circles connections to help her get places, and to find resources when in need.
“The resource committee I am part of helps individuals find things like computers, washers and dryers, or other appliances,” she said. “We also hold fundraisers to help those who are really struggling.”
For Klassen, informational and fundraising meetings are often places where she finds a way to give back to the organization that helped her, using her musical talents to inspire others.
“I’m not a speaker or I don’t like to tell my story,” she said. “But I can play the flute and the piano and feel good about giving back in that way.”
Klassen provided music in August for a Circles of Marion County introductory meeting near Goessel. She hopes that others will see how much a group of this type can help those trapped in poverty find hope and a way to break the cycle.