Consumer chronicle

Zach grew up on a farm in Lewiston until his family moved into town when he was 11 years old. On the farm, Zach tended to get into trouble – some little, and some pretty big. He climbed the windmill, was responsible for a few broken windows, and even got into an argument with a sheep buck – an argument he lost.

In town, he lived across from the park where he played on the swings, rode his bike, and, after watching a movie called “Holes” about boys forced to dig holes in the desert, dug holes. The volleyball pit was perfect for hole-digging. However, unlike in the movie, Zach had to fill in the holes, too!

Zach went to St. Charles High School where a para working with him got him interested in being the team manager for sports teams. Zach loves all sports, especially wrestling, football, basketball and bowling. He traveled with the team to games, and had a great time.

The para’s name was Becky Ball. Zach has a little bit of a problem with names, so his nickname for her became “Meatball Becky.” Zach’s name for his kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Kalmes, became “Mouse.”

Zach has a twin sister, Ana, and three older sisters (Becky, Peggy, and Mandy), who all live within easy driving distance of Lewiston. Ana is a special education teacher in Tomah and was married in February 2020. Zach walked her down the aisle. Ana recently had a baby boy, Zach is a proud uncle to baby Theo. His sister Becky lives in Lewiston. His sister Peggy, whom he calls “Pug,” lives on Homer Ridge, and Mandy lives in Plainview. He has two nieces – Paige and Megan – and three nephews – Layne, Matthew, and Bo.

When he turned 12, Zach didn’t qualify any longer for after care at the school, so his family began to look for other options. They were able to cobble together help for a year, but when he was 13, he no longer fit in with the younger children in after-care.

It was then, his mom Jo says, that they were told about Home and Community Options, probably by a teacher. He received in-home services until he was 19 when he moved to HCO’s home in Lewiston in 2017.  Jo said it was a “bittersweet” experience, and it took Zach about a year to become comfortable in the HCO house.

Now, Zach sees himself as in charge of the house, where three women also live. He keeps house, including doing dishes, washing floors, doing laundry, and cooking. He likes to cook eggs and toast, which he spreads with his mother’s homemade jam. He also likes to spice up his food with several condiments, including hot sauce!

Another of his jobs is to make sure the door to the house is secure at night, so everyone is safe. “I’m a busy man,” says Zach.

During the week, Zach works at DAC doing whatever jobs are brought into the center by other community business. He takes the bus to work and has his own spot, his “own space,” on it. After lunch, he can take a walk outside or play hoops, which he is quite good at.

After work on Wednesdays, Zach goes to the Dojo, where he is studying martial arts. He has an orange and black belt. He likes his sensei, Ralph, and looks forward to his sessions. His sisters better not tease him, he joked, because he can work his martial arts skills on them! Other days, Zach will go to the Y to work out on the machines, run on the track, or play hoops.

When he’s not working, Zach has many activities he pursues. He likes card games, monopoly, bowling (his bowling ball is green and gold and says “Go Packers!”), and movies. He has a list of favorite movies too long to relate. One of his all-time favorites is “Lion King,” says his mom.

Jo tells of the first time they rented a movie to play at home. “Lion King” was the first. Zach watched the movie six times a day, on average, for nine months straight. Other favorites are anything with The Rock, plus many other Disney movies. The day we met, he was wearing a Power Rangers shirt with his Packers ball cap.

One thing Zach loves to do is volunteer at the Humane Society, where he plays with the dogs and cats. He proudly wears his Humane Society lanyard around his neck.

He is a big fan of wresting, John Cena being a favorite along with The Rock, and likes boxing and boxing gloves. He also likes to go down to local bar with staff, for a beer, some popcorn, and games. Jo says everyone in Lewiston and St. Charles knows Zach, and wherever he goes, on his bike or a golf cart, he waves to them.

At times, though, Zach says, he just wants to have his space and doesn’t like it when people interrupt him to talk. He also doesn’t like to be teased. Jo says that Zach has a method for dealing with people who tease him. “He doesn’t show that it bothers him, and when they don’t get a reaction, they stop,” she says.

But mostly, Zach is a happy guy with many and varied interests. Like he says, “I’m a busy man. Gotta stay focused!”