Kassiah Vande Kolk grew up in the same town she now serves Marine Credit Union members at the Waupun, Wisconsin branch. Kassiah graduated from high school in Waupun and has had a diverse career background since.
Right out of high school, Kassiah worked in the community’s well know cheese factory making everything from mozzarella to Munster. “I loved it,” she said of her job there as a quality control manager. Unfortunately, she explained that due to medical reasons and the heavy lifting the job required, she ended up having to leave the company.
Kassiah shared that she has a genetic degenerative disc disease. “I woke up one morning and had slipped a disc.” She explained that the disc pinched a nerve, and she had no feeling in her legs. The condition, she said has affected her both physically and mentally, but she has been able to find some relief with medications. “I can manage better,” Kassiah shared. “I’m lucky because I had my now husband to support me. He’s been awesome,” she added and said that he has been with her through the entire ordeal.
Kassiah met her husband Justin when they were children. “I’ve known him since I was little. It’s one of those kind of love stories,” she shared with a smile. “We grew up together, but it wasn’t until Christmas of 2017 that we started dating,” she added. “We had been hanging out and getting along before that. The feelings were there.”
Kassiah said she drove around for three hours that Christmas day and found the only open Walgreens. “I showed up at his door with a bow on my head and told him, ‘I’m your Christmas present. I’m your girlfriend now,” she explained and laughed.
Kassiah and Justin were still newlyweds at the time of her interview, having only been married for a couple of months. They live with what Kassiah calls their “zoo” having rescued several pets. Their little family consists of Remi, a five-year-old yellow lab; Misty, a mixed breed; two cats, Nala and Stormi, and Gara, a two-and-a-half-year-old bearded dragon.
“They are all rescues,” Kassiah explained. “I have always been passionate about pets.” Her first, Nala, was rescued when Kassiah was volunteering at the Humane Society. Nala was only eight weeks old at the time and not very healthy, but Kassiah nursed her to health and now she calls Nala “Chunk,” she added. “He drives my husband crazy, but he loves her too.”
Their first dog together was saved from a puppy mill just before being euthanized. Then came Misty who was rescued from being used as a “bait dog” for dog fights. Misty came to them with many scars. “She was in rough shape,” Kassiah said, but is now their “spunky happy dog.”
Stormi is their “itty-bitty kitten.” Kassiah shared that Stormi has a “chaotic personality” now but also had a tough road. Kassiah found the kitten at only four-weeks-old in the rims of her husband’s truck tire. The idea was to rehab the kitty, but their other cat fell in love with this little one … “so,” Kassiah explained, “we couldn’t get rid of her now!”
Kassiah and her husband also have Gara, their bearded dragon who was rescued from a tiny tank with no lights and was very unhealthy. After a short time in quarantine, Gara is now “spoiled,” Kassiah explained, eating only salads and the finest of cockroaches and living in a luxurious tank with her own hideouts and even a hammock. “She’s spoiled,” Kassiah said again smiling.
Although Kassiah is happy with her husband and their little “zoo,” she admitted it has been difficult dealing with her disability. But in February of 2022, Kassiah applied for a position at MCU and was happy to leave her job at an animal store that didn’t really suit her well. “It was a big deal for MCU to give me the opportunity without any previous experience,” Kassiah added. “It’s going okay.”
Kassiah now serves as a Member Service Representative but shared that she is passionate about the deposit operations side of the organization and hopes to find herself there in the future. She has been talent-sharing in the department, enjoys it and said it “keeps me busy!”