Renown Volunteer Finds Fulfillment Helping Others

volunteer Brian

Since July, Brian Scharfenberger has been “a bright spot” for both the public and fellow volunteers at Renown Regional Medical Center. Now his manager is inspired to hire more volunteers with disabilities due to Brian’s example and his personal, welcoming demeanor.

Brian Scharfenberger gave a simple reason why he wanted to volunteer at Renown Regional Medical Center: “To help the children.”
volunteer Brian

Brian, 31, has Down syndrome, but his position as volunteer allows him to focus on his abilities rather than any potential disability related to this condition. His helpful and kind work as a volunteer, notes his supervisor at Renown, has helped him thrive personally and professionally.

“Working here has really made a difference for Brian,” said Meghan Meager, Director of Volunteer Services for Renown. “It’s really helped him grow as a person and has boosted his confidence.”

Brian, who lives part-time in Reno and Auburn, Calif., started in July. He said his duties include delivering flowers and packages to patients. He also greets people at the Tahoe Tower ground floor information desk during his volunteer time, which takes place about four hours a day twice a week.

An Amazing Wayfinder

His peers note that Brian has become one of the best wayfinders in the hospital, frequently helping people who need to find a doctor’s office or area of the campus.

Brian is a familiar face to many employees at the hospital as well. He goes to Sierra Café for lunch on his shift days and also mentioned seeing several fellow volunteers as one of his favorite parts of the job.
volunteer Brian at computer

But the work at Renown has helped him find his own way as he helps wayfind for hospital guests. Brian’s mom, Chris Marlo, works full-time for Renown as a childbirth education coordinator and meets with Brian during his shifts.

“He really feels now like he is part of the community here, like he’s a part of something and that he matters to people,” Chris said, close to crying while discussing Brian’s role at Renown. “This has just really opened a new door for him.”

Rolling Out The Red Carpet

Chris said that Meghan and her Renown team “rolled out the red carpet” for Brian and made it easy for him to succeed. “Everyone has been so welcoming,” she added. “I feel like he is treated like he has no disability, and I also needed that as a parent, to let go a little bit.”

Meghan added that she wants to hire more volunteers with disabilities to complement the diverse team the hospital uses to help patients, visitors and employees.

“Everybody really enjoys working with him,” Meghan said. “He’s a bright spot in our day.”


  1. I had the opportunity to meet Brian and I think it is absolutely wonderful that Renown has given him this opportunity. Brian is a wonderful guy and it was a pleasure getting to meet him! More hospitals should have programs like this, it would be so beneficial to so many people.
  2. This is truly an amazing opportunity for my brother Brian. I have visited him during his volunteer work at Renown and every time Brian is beaming with joy and is so proud to show me and his new nephew what he does. Thank you for giving Brian this great opportunity.
  3. What a great story about an amazing young man and those who believe in him. This sounds like the perfect place for Brian, who's heart is big and open to new adventures especially if he can help others. There is a lot to be said for Ms Meager and Renown Medical Center for seeing abilities and not disabilities.
  4. As a volunteer with Special Olympics since 1983, I've be blessed to have known several wonderful folks that have made a huge contribution to making my life so wonderful and fulfilled with love as it is today. Brian you are a testament to the love and compassion that can be shared with everyone. I'm so glad that there are folks that will give you the opportunity to show what you are capable of, I hope and pray that more and more of these stories are shared and many more lives will be touched by someone as special as you. Thank you for being you. Sunshine
  5. Thank you so much for this wonderful article honoring Brian's very generous contributions to the Renown medical center! I'm so grateful that the medical center has allowed Brian to serve as a volunteer so that he can both better himself and brighten the lives of others. As Brian's cousin I know firsthand how much his very contagious smile and warmth can fill everyone's hearts. Brian I am so proud of you!!
  6. What a wonderful win-win! How wonderful for everyone when we can share our God given gifts with others. Brian's is the gift of acceptance and kindness - so lacking in most hospital environments today. Kudos to the Renown family.
  7. So proud of my son Brian, for who he is and for what he can be. He is and always will be an example of humanities potential for love and compassion, and truly someone i will forever look up to; my hero. I would like to sincerely thank Meghan Meager and Renown Regional Medical Center for providing Brian this opportunity, and seeing his abilities instead of his disabilities. Many thanks for all who made this possible for Brian. What an awesome example for other hospitals and businesses to aspire to.