Derzon, 72, has served on the MCIL board since 1994.
"We have a good board. In fact, we have two people from DSPS" (Disabled Students Programs & Services at College of Marin). "Marie McCarthy and Maureen Green are invaluable, because their professional work is with the disabled." (McCarthy is the Program Coordinator, Green is a speech therapist who also leads a Stroke Support Group.)
"MCIL serves just over 3,000 people a year," says Derzon. "Most disabilities are sudden, and people don't know where to turn. Disability strikes all economic classes -- it's not choosy -- but a lot of people who are disabled are low-income, because they're not working."
Derzon, who has himself been disabled since suffering a stroke in 1992 and quadruple bypass surgery several years ago, is proud of having helped to raise three-quarters of a million dollars for seismic retrofitting of the MCIL offices on Fourth Street in San Rafael, which also serve low-income people with five affordable apartments upstairs.
"That was a major project for the board," he recalls. "It took a lot of our energy, but we stayed within our budget and came in on time."
Derzon, who is also on the board of Environmental Traveling Companions, worked in the health care field before his retirement. His career included serving as Director of UCSF Hospitals and Clinics in the 1970s, as well as a stint with the federal government's Health Care Financing Administration, working with Medicare and Medicaid programs.
He has also taken his exercise with College of Marin's Adaptive Physical Education program for the last seven years.
"That program has been the single most important part of recovery from my stroke," he says. "Exercise restores physical and mental function. The other reason I appreciate the Adaptive PE program is that I get inspired by the people working out there who are so much more disabled than me."
He is concerned about possible budget cuts decimating the Adaptive PE program.
"Most of our students have problems even during the semester breaks," he says sadly. "They stiffen up when they don't get to exercise. Sometimes they go from walking to not walking. I dread the prospect of the program being shrunk."
Last September, Derzon lost his wife of 46 years, Margo, to a brain tumor.
"She was a great world traveler," he says. "It's left a big hole in my life. That's one reason I try to keep doing a lot of things. Right now I'm taking a four-unit credit class in world history at College of Marin. The college is, in many ways, a nice second chance for me, a nice nest. It keeps me busy and engaged."
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