BY JACLYN ROSE –
Annette Kloch, like so many others, works a full time job. She also enjoys spending time with her family and friends and enjoys a few hobbies. However, aside from the norm, Kloch has dedicated a large portion of her time to helping others. To her, it is simply a way to give back, but to the people lucky enough to know her, it is so much more.
Kloch and her family moved to Arkansas from a very small town in Nebraska when she was nine years old. Her family visited Mena on vacation and saw job opportunities that caused them to pack up their belongings and move. Kloch began school at Mena and graduated from Mena High School in 1997. She then began college on a scholarship at the University of Arkansas where she graduated in 2001 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Agricultural Communications. She had plans to complete Pharmacy School but after getting in, began to deal with a debilitating back injury. “I went through a period of time where I couldn’t walk. The doctors thought I had pelvic cancer, but it turned out I had ruptured disks in my back. I had three surgeries by age 25, one was a fusion and it took me 16 months to recover. I had to rely on a lot of other people for help, I couldn’t tie my shoes for over a year and I couldn’t lift my legs for over six months. During that time so many people wanted to help me. I had so many come sit with me to give me something to do and to visit with me. When I started to recover, I wanted to be able to repay the people who had given to me,” explained Kloch.
In the months and years following her recovery, Kloch began to volunteer in many different areas around the local community, always looking for a way to give back and lend a helping hand. Kloch worked with the girl scouts, she helps with the food pantry and food distribution at Saint Agnes Catholic Church in Mena, she also works with the Mena Board of Realtors and their Backpack Program, which distributes food to children in the school system. Kloch is the head of Social Action on the Parish Council and works with the youth at Saint Agnes. She simply tries to find needs in her community and then reaches out to help in those areas. “I try to help watch kids and take the Saint Agnes youth on fun and educational trips that help them learn and grow spiritually. We have a haunted house for the community that the kids really enjoy and it helps support the Saint Agnes youth to go to National Convention. This year it will be October 30th and 31st. We are working on that and really excited about it. We work with the youth at the Crossing and we do a joint hayride. We really try to get the youth involved in community projects. We want them to see that they can get fulfillment from helping others. So much of my need to work with kids comes from the fact that I can’t have kids because of my spine and because I experienced being unable to do anything for myself for 16 months, I understand. I know how you can begin to feel worthless and what it meant to me that so many people wanted to help me, I want to be able to give back,” explained Kloch.
“I love the closeness of the community in Polk County. When I needed help, people were always there to help me and you don’t get that in a larger community. When I was learning to walk again it was winter and cold so we walked around Walmart and complete strangers would come up and tell me they were going to say a prayer for me and I learned that just by telling someone that, you can really make a big difference. It made me want to work harder to get better. This community has been such a blessing to me and my family,” Kloch explained.