Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Meet AmeriCorps Volunteer Darran Zenger!
Darran Zenger works diligently everyday at the Greater Salt Lake Area Chapter of the American Red Cross. He has been a volunteer in the office since February and began as a part-time AmeriCorps volunteer in April, spending his time recruiting volunteers who are interested in becoming First Aid/CPR/AED Instructors and scheduling instructors to teach these classes. With his help the Preparedness, Health and Safety Department makes for a well-oiled machine.
As Darran works at his desk each morning, Archer, a yellow lab stays attentively by his side. Darran lives with a condition called Usher Syndrome, which is characterized as progressive vision loss due to Retinitis pigmentosa and deafness. This has caused Darran to be profoundly deaf and legally blind. Archer, his guide dog, has been with Darran since July 2008 and makes life and traveling much easier.
Everyday poses a different battle for Darran; whether it’s finding and purchasing a phone system so he can effectively communicate with the volunteers he works with or trying arduously to make sure there is a teacher for the life-saving skills classes taught at the Red Cross. But, he takes on these battles with energy and enthusiasm and gets the job done. Not once has Darran said “I can’t do this.” Instead, he says, “I can do more” with the proper resources. That drive alone has fueled many of us at the chapter to find ways to do more.
His greatest challenge; “Showing people that I CAN work; I CAN do the job with reasonable accommodations,” Darran says. Misconceptions about what it means to be deaf-blind have caused some concern for Darran. “Most people who think of someone who is deaf-blind, think of Helen Keller, someone who is totally deaf and totally blind, but there is a wide degree of deaf-blindness,” he says.
Darran has done nothing but overcome these challenges and the struggles he has faced practically all his life, due to his condition. He graduated from high school in Oregon where he spent his childhood. He moved to Utah ten years ago and received a degree in Psychology from Utah State in 2004. Married for 12 years, Darran has three kids, a son who is eleven and two daughters, nine and three.
He loves volunteering at the Red Cross, “The co-workers are awesome and I thoroughly enjoy working with everyone.” Darran brings tremendous energy to the office and is an inspiring member of the Red Cross and AmeriCorps team; plus he’s giving us all sign language lessons for free!