By Belinda Collins
The ACB Community is thriving with new members all the time, and we are certainly thankful for so many opportunities to meet people from all walks of life. Today however, we want to shine the spotlight on someone who has been with the community for some time now, and someone who has had a positive impact on many who know her. Manic Monday has taken on an entirely new meaning because of this individual, and it is rumored that she serves up some of the best drinks from her virtual bar in Open Mic Night. Of course, we are talking about our very own, Judy Wolgang!
Judy currently resides in South Florida, more specifically, a small town called Margate. However, she is originally from The Bronx, New York, where she lived until going to college. She has one sister who is 3 and a half years older, and when Judy was eleven, her parents moved the family to a new high-rise in another section of the Bronx. She says that the new neighborhood was a great place to grow up. She and her sister were very active kids with lots of friends. Eventually her sister went off to college and Judy was the only child living at home for a while, which meant that she no longer had to share a bedroom.
Judy was never a big fan of school, although she did enjoy her college years, and had a better experience. After college, she spent a couple of years in Massachusetts before settling in Florida near her family in June of 1978, and then accepted a job working for Motorola in 1981.
As a customer support specialist, Judy provided assistance to other companies and dealers of Motorola products for 13 years. She had some vision issues while on the job, but wore contact lenses and reading glasses so that she could still perform her work duties. However, she had a few surgeries off and on due to glaucoma pressure. One particular surgery in 1989 ultimately left her legally blind. In order to continue her work with Motorola, the use of a computer with magnification was necessary. She took a leave of absence from work for a year until her local Division of Blind Services could provide the necessary accommodations to get her back on the job.
Over the years Judy had always been very private about the struggles she had with her eye conditions. She did not talk to anyone about the many things that she went through. Friends knew about the many surgeries, but she never fully explained to them what was going on, mostly for fear of being made fun of and concern about people making thoughtless comments. However, when she was in her 30’s and could no longer hide the sight loss, she had to start recognizing it for what it was. Due to high pressure demands that went along with her position at Motorola, and the stress of dealing with sight loss, she made the difficult decision to leave the company in 1994. After taking some time to regroup, she decided to enroll for classes at the Lighthouse of Broward in Fort Lauderdale, where she received some independent living skills training. That was ultimately a big step in the process of acceptance and independence as a visually impaired person.
Upon receiving training from the Lighthouse of Broward, Judy was offered training on using the internet in exchange for an agreement to become a volunteer. The Lighthouse had become a place of comfort for her and she didn’t want to leave, so she agreed to volunteer as a teacher. Over the years she taught clients on various assistive technologies such as JAWS and Apple devices. She continued with that position for 23 years. Throughout that time, Judy immersed herself in her teaching and eventually became the chairperson for their alumni association. She was well-known by many in her community as a leader and gained the respect of many of her clients and colleagues.
When the pandemic of 2020 shut down the country and the Lighthouse shut their doors to in-person training, a Covid support group was started, where people met via phone. At one point in May of 2020, one of the facilitators of the support calls mentioned the ACB Community calls that had recently started. Although she was familiar with the American Council of the Blind, Judy had never had a formal connection with the organization. She signed up to receive the daily schedule and began attending some of the weekly calls. As she gradually got more involved and began to feel more comfortable in the community, she decided to take the plunge and become a member of ACB in June of 2020. She was soon volunteering to post the daily schedule to the Community Facebook group, and a few short months later, found herself facilitating her first call.
Just as in her love and attachment to the Lighthouse of Broward, Her experience with finding people with a shared commonality in the ACB Community has been very similar. She has gotten to know many people and understands that they are all here with the same purpose, friendship, and a sense of connection. We are delighted and honored that Judy is a huge part of our large Community family.
If you haven’t gotten a chance to know her yet, drop by her morning call at the beginning of each week and let her change your mind about Manic Mondays. She may even serve you up a Coke or sparkling water at her virtual bar on Open Mic Night as well.
Fun Facts About Judy:
What would you sing at Karaoke night? She Loves you by the Beatles
Have you ever had a nickname? What is it? Jude
In the evening, would you rather play a game, visit a relative, watch a movie, or read? None of the above. Prefers going down rabbit holes on YouTube.
Aside from necessities, what one thing could you not go a day without? Phone
Favorite holiday? Thanksgiving
If you had a warning label, what would yours say? Warning: You may experience sudden laughter
Is your glass half full or half empty? Half-full
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever eaten? Tongue
What obscure thing are you talented at? Knowledge of music trivia.
What do you enjoy doing for fun? Tandem biking