Category Archives: Allison Woolbert & Suzanne- The Adventures

Allison Woolbert’s Woodworks for the Blind


What had once been a typical basement comprised  of concrete flooring,  cinder block walls, and a sump pump in the corner, was now transformed into a power wood shop that would knock the socks off of any builder. Complete with incandescent lighting, tongue and groove flooring and a sawdust collection system, gleaming saws, jigs, lathes, etc. lined the walls and were piled high on benches and shelves to be handled by the Master Carpenter, Allison Woolbert.

Only a couple months into her projects, Allison had secured the help of two blind apprentices who were eager to learn from her. They appeared to love the environment and had no trouble dedicating large portions of their weekends to assisting with sanding, varnishing and cleaning up tasks. It probably should have come to no surprise to wife Suzanne, the strange sounds she awoke to one Saturday morning at about 7:02 a.m. Two floors above, snuggled down under the blankets, she thought she was dreaming the sounds of saws and hammers, sanders and polishers, and what else?  They were laughing and singing at the top of their lungs. In fact, they were laughing uproariously at some slightly off color jokes that no one should be thinking about anytime before noon if you would ask Suzanne.

After waking up with a cup of coffee, Suzanne dragged herself down the two flights of stairs to investigate the raucous. They seemed not to hear or see her arrival, now singing along to a blaring radio. Suzanne backed out slowly, trying diligently not to trip over or knock anything over in her path, and edge back up the stairs. On the first stair, she was suddenly hit by a blast of cold air. “What was that,” she wondered. “There weren’t any windows in this part of the basement.

She quickly ran upstairs to fix some breakfast, check on the kids and get started with her day. A couple hours later her young son snuck down the stairs and raced back up shouting, “Mommy, mommy, there’s a big hole in our house!” Gasping, Suzanne ran down behind her son, and realized he was telling the truth. The cold blast of air from before had not lightened up and was coming through a gaping hole in the back of their half million dollar home. Running down the stairs she screamed, “Woolbert, what have you done?” “Oh, I was going to tell you about that,” she said. “I’m making a new door to get the large planks of wood through easier.” “It’s going to be a beautiful door.”

Trying to rebound from her shock, Suzanne tried to grasp why Allison Woolbert had just sawed a huge hole in their house and what a door could possibly be needed for. Then, she remembered the current project they were working on, and how important it was to her as well. Over at a place called the John D. Young Lions Blind Center, Allison Woolbert had been teaching beginner computer lessons to a group of blind adults. The problem in the center was that there were not nearly enough computers for the group or terminals for them to work in. For no fee at all, Allison had agreed to build individual terminals and place gently used laptops in each one, so that every student could work on their own and begin to enjoy a whole new world of technology. The back of Suzanne’s beautiful home would never quite look the same, but groups of blind adults would benefit from Allison Woolbert’s work for years to come.



Why Is Allison Woolbert, a Guide Dog and a Plastic Bag on a First Date So Memorable?


Allison Woolbert had been out of the dating scene for quite a while, focusing on a career move and relocating to central Jersey from the southern part of the state. She had been corresponding via cassette tape and over the phone with a woman named Suzanne, who she had met through a music ministry event back in the 1990s. Suzanne was bright, fun and musical, and also happened to be blind. A few weeks earlier Allison agreed to travel with Suzanne’s mother to pick her and her new guide dog, Meg up from a Guide Dog Training School in Smithtown, New York. They made plans for their first real date, however, the first weekend that Allison moved into her new efficiency a couple towns over from where Suzanne lived in her condo.

Allison Woolbert was the type that was always prepared for any work or social event, and felt like she prepared well for their date. They had planned a simple movie and dinner, and Allison imagined how she might have to assist Suzanne in some instances. “Okay, I’ll be the audio describer for the action scenes in the movie,” she thought. “Maybe I’ll offer to cut her steak, dress her salad, or read the menu as many times as she wants to hear it,” she thought further.

Driving just a tad above the speed limit, Allison raced across town to be on time for their date. As she exited the car, the wind kicked up and it looked as though it would start pouring any second. She reached into her back seat for the jacket she always left there, and realized it was missing. If they hurried, they could probably stop at Kmart on the way to the movie and grab a windbreaker.

Suzanne and Meg were waiting at the door, Meg harnessed up and looking ready for their adventure. They got into the car, and Suzanne did not seem to be concerned about being late for the movie at all, and said it was fine with her if they stopped at Kmart. Once inside the store, Allison led while Meg followed, zigzagging up and down aisles and between parked shopping carts and sale item displays. All of a sudden, she jerked to the left, and stopped dead in her tracks. Allison Woolbert looked down and exclaimed, “Oh, my God, she just had an accident!”

Suzanne frantically rummaged around inside her purse and jacket pockets as a look of sheer panic passed over her face. “What do we do now?” Allison asked. “We need a plastic bag,” Suzanne almost whimpered. “I’ll be right back,” she promised and darted off in search of what… Oh, a plastic bag. Finally, finding an aisle that seemed to hold paper products and the like, Allison scanned the boxes and froze.” Glad, Hefty, Ziploc, Food Storage, and a dozen other brands lined the shelves in front of her. “Which one?” she exclaimed inside her head.

Ten minutes later, Suzanne was shifting from one foot to another, looking desperate. When she cried what took so long, Allison quietly answered, “I couldn’t decide which one, which bag would be best.” Instantly, they burst into laughter. Meg’s present secured inside the bag and quickly deposited in the trash outside, They had broken the ice on any discomfort that they may feel for the rest of the evening. They simply enjoyed it, making jokes about which one would be best all night long.