Being a fun and vivacious young woman, it’s no surprise that Jenny Eickhoff loves to sign / sing and perform with Wingspan Life Resource’s Glee Club. Of the 20 or so members, she is the only one who is Deaf and interprets songs with American Sign Language (ASL).
At their Country Western Variety Show held April 8 at the MacPhail Center for Music in downtown Minneapolis, Jenny interpreted John Denver’s “Country Roads” for the enthusiastic and appreciative audience. This show helped celebrate Wingspan’s 45th anniversary and also included guest performers, The Lowland Lakers, an audience singalong, an air guitar contest, and a reception afterward.
In partnership with MacPhail and under the direction of Music Therapist Colin Doherty, the Glee Club has performed many times, including at Wingspan galas with such guest artists as Twin Cites jazz vocalist Patty Peterson, rock celebrity Kat Perkins, violinist/vocalist Gaelyn Lea Tressler, gospel virtuoso Robert Robinson, and folk artist / performer Rachael Kroog.
“It’s really fun to be on stage,” said Jenny who is 58 and communicates primarily through ASL, although she also reads lips and speaks. She has been performing with the Glee Club since 2013 with other residents of Wingspan group homes who meet every Monday night, September through May, to rehearse.
“Everybody in Glee Club is really nice and we have a lot of fun together,” said Jenny.
“Jenny often helps lead the group in warm-up exercises including ‘beat boxing,’” says Darolyn Gray, development officer with Wingspan Life Resources which offers residential, in-home and support services for adults who have developmental disabilities.
“Jenny is also the featured ASL soloist during performances,” Darolyn added. “She always puts passion and hard work into her performances. Congratulation to Jenny for focusing on her ability and for being a wonderful leader.”
Jenny performws Country Roads again in Wingspan’s upcoming talent show at the end of April. She has also taken the stage in two Rise Celebrate Talent! shows and last year sang / signed True Colors.
Jenny works with Rise’s Day Training and Habilitation Sensory Support unit at the Spring Lake Park production facilities. Her twin sister, Julie, is also Deaf and lives at Wingspan’s Colfax House. Julie participates in Community Involvement Programs’ MARI (Music, Arts, Recreation, and Inclusion), a nonvocational, retirement day service in Bloomington.
In her free time, Jenny enjoys putting together jigsaw puzzles, working on her computer, and going for walks.