Tag Archives: Allison Woolbert

Allison Woolbert – Growing Beyond Hatred.

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One of the unfortunate teachings that Allison Woolbert received at a very young age was to disbelieve spiritual ideas that weren’t within the Church of Christ. Allison was told that an honest search of spiritual values was to question God and that deep down, questioning God could be a mortal sin. Although Allison Woolbert was encouraged to ask questions about God, the established rules dictated that core values should not be questioned. If, miraculously, you discovered in your quest that the core values were wrong, incorrect and misleading, you were then subjected to being removed from the congregation until your alleged sin could be rectified. This value of utter intolerance for other religious beliefs and values was strictly enforced.

Imagine what would happen if your whole family believed that a great white fish was the maker of the universe, had appeared to walk on dry land, spoken to you directly, and told you that you were never to sail upon the oceans again. The punishment was that you would be swallowed up and your soul lost for all eternity by a fish that eats your being forever and digests it in its stomach acids. Not understanding the ramification of one small chunk of information would certainly distort your belief. You might destroy all the boats in your neighborhood and banish boat building for fear of the great fish stomach acid bath. Absurd, you may say? I would have to agree wholeheartedly with you. However, some Christian denominations have invented their own fearful characters to such fictitious fears driven by distortions and twists of truth. This is the land of Oz where I grew up. A book written by men who plagiarized written and cultural histories for a small group of planetary citizens that claimed to be the sole chosen race of the Only True God. The myths and fantasies continue.

Intolerance of others based upon a faith belief system is nothing short of hypocrisy in action. It categorically established a faith based on not the mutual exchange and consideration of information and views, but instead provides a battleground for each of us to pit our truths and distortions against one another.

Allison Woolbert is a writer, parent, computer professional and woodworker. Allison routinely writes articles about what is on her mind or on a variety of topics. Remember that you can read more articles at her blog on AllisonWoolbert.com.

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Allison Woolbert’s Woodworks for the Blind

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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.

 

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

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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.

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Allison Woolbert – A Journey To Wholeness

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This is short video that was seen by tens of thousands of people over the years to show a different journey of Allison Woolbert’s extraordinary life.  It shows from the beginning to a little after my full transition.  Allison Woolbert greatly appreciates all those who were warm, generous and welcoming on her journey and taught her so very much.

 

 

 

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Article on Allison Woolbert by Mark Bernstein – Change: This Time It’s Personal

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Change: This Time It’s Personal

Change, as we all know, is synonymous with growth.  When we think about change in our congregations, we usually think in systemic terms.  A different way of conducting worship; renovations or additions to the building; a new way of governing the church.  Change, however, is also personal.  By living our UU principles, by gaining strength through our faith, we find the courage to change, to grow and to find our lives restored.

I met Allison Woolbert at the JPD District Assembly this March.  She was leading a workshop on transgendered persons, specifically herself.  I listened with fascination as Allison shared her inspirational life story of courage, love found and lost, and, finally, the realization that in order to live her life as her spirit required, she needed to change.  It was through the support of her fellow congregants at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Jersey Shore that Allison was able to find acceptance and the strength to continue the change in her life.  Of those congregants, Allison says “their warmth and commitment to truly living the (UU) Principles encouraged me more than anything into coming out as my true self.  One of the hardest things about ‘coming out’”, Allison Woolbert continues, “is the fear of persecution.  Through the great gift of love, UUCSJS has continued to help me live my life to the fullest.”

Charles DuBois wrote, “The important thing is this:  To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.”  This is the power of Unitarian Universalism.  It gives us the strength to take risks; the inspiration to become greater than we are now.

The true value of our faith is realized through the stories of people like Allison and so many others who have found the courage to change.

Allison is available to speak to your congregation.  If you too want to be inspired, contact her at allison.woolbert@gmail.com or 609.662.1776.   You can also check out her web site: allisonwoolbert.wordpress.com.

By Mark Bernstein

 

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Allison Woolbert in Interweave World – Summer 2009

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Interweave World LogoInterweave of South Jersey – A New Chapter’s Beginnings by Allison Woolbert
As a newly formed chapter of Interweave, we have begun the journey of providing services to our local congregants as well as our immediate community. Interweave of South Jersey started having meetings in January of 2009. The initial meeting held 31 individuals from our congregation and community. We began by creating 5 small groups that would be our main focus for this year. The groups consisted of several “lenses” Communications, Education, Social Justice, Outreach and Support. Our mission was to provide the very best in support to all within our five county community.
We started by having educational seminars on gender and sexual orientation and have had a few events this year including a Karaoke night, games night, a pot luck dinner, movie night (normally with discussion group afterwards). We additionally started support groups for the Family Members of GLBT, as well as gay and transgenders within our community, which are non-confrontational and very welcomed by many members of our community.
By creating the outreach and communications committees we were able to publicize our groups widely throughout southern New Jersey. We have a growing membership of two to four new individuals a month showing up to our UU services due to our community outreach.
Our Board of Trustees is dedicated and appreciative of the efforts made by our local Interweave chapter and their support is unwavering. Without their overwhelming support, our efforts would have been seriously diminished.
Recently we organized a UU district-wide panel on Interweave that brought individuals together in our district to discuss what is going on with their current Interweave groups and what could be done to revitalize the district’s program. The panel brought out many excellent ideas and we had a great response from all who attended.
We also attended, as a sponsoring organization, the Philadelphia National Equality March on May 3rd which provided a national forum for the expression of Equal Rights for all GLBT members. We were quoted by the Associated Press concerning transgender medical rights which subsequently was published in hundreds of media outlets across the world.

Our group has solicited other groups within our region to join in our events which have led to building a coalition that has a much stronger voice and presence. Stockton College students attended the rally with us as well as another Interweave chapter from Bux-Mont UU in Pennsylvania. With one voice our coalition challenged the Christian hatemongers that were badgering the attendees and stood hand in hand in our support of each other and our GLBT sisters and brothers. We were very honored to be part of such a national effort and we are now beginning to coordinate further outreach with the organizations sponsoring the rally.
Our willingness to step out into the community as a strong advocate for GLBT has enabled us to grow our membership in our Unitarian congregation, and to also make a stand during such critical times in our country’s history.
Although we are a new chapter, there is no time like the present to make a difference in your congregation and community by stepping up and championing GLBT equality of and the inherent dignity and worth of all human beings.
If we can be of any assistance to your Interweave group, please contact us via our website, http://interweave.uucsjs.org, or email Allison Woolbert at allison.woolbert@gmail.com.

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Allison Woolbert – Organizer for UUSJS / Interweave 2009 Gay Pride Rally

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Allison Woolbert
Allison Woolbert

Hundreds March In Philly Gay Rights Rally

First National Demonstration Since 2000 For Gay Rights In Marriage, Workplace

PHILADELPHIA, May 3, 2009

People gather across from Independence Hall in Philadelphia on Sunday May 3, 2009, to demonstrate for gay rights.  (AP Photo/Joseph Kaczmarek)

(AP)  Hundreds of gay rights demonstrators marched through the streets of the city’s historic center on Sunday carrying rainbow-colored flags and signs calling for equal rights in marriage, in the workplace and in health care.

The National Equality Rally was billed as the first national demonstration since 2000 for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights and the first held outside Washington. The marchers displayed signs from dozens of organizations and photos of people they said had been killed because of their sexualities.

The march ended with a rally in front of Independence Hall, where rainbow-colored umbrellas came in handy in a steady drizzle. The crowd listened to music from a band and a chorale singing the national anthem, and a cheer rose at the sound of the bell from the spire of the building where the Constitution was drafted.

Speakers called for support for gay marriage, more money for AIDS research and an end to workplace discrimination and the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which prohibits gays in the military from being open about their sexual orientation. One participant wearing a fatigue jacket and pink slacks held a sign saying “Do ask, do tell.”

“We don’t wilt, and we don’t melt. We are here for equality now,” Malcolm Lazin, executive director of the Equality Forum local gay rights group, which sponsored the event, told the crowd.

Bryan Berchok, of Upper Bucks County, Pa., listened to the speeches as he held his 4-year-old adoptive son, Shawn, whose face was painted to resemble the black mask of Spider-Man’s evil alter ego. He and his partner of 15 years, John Ferraro, said it was difficult and expensive to try to get the same rights afforded to married couples.

“We worry how things would work out if one of us was not able to care for Shawn,” Berchok said. “It’s just a little scary.”

Allison Woolbert, who chairs the Interweave gay rights group of southern New Jersey, said she wanted more attention given to health care for transgender people, who she said often are refused care by medical personnel and whose medications are not covered in health plans.

A few counterdemonstrators held religious signs at the margins of the gathering, and one preached with a bullhorn as the marchers filed past.

At the time of the last national rally, nine years ago, Vermont had just passed the first civil union law in the country. Now, gay marriage is legal in Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa and Massachusetts, with bills pending in other states. California briefly allowed it last year, but a voter initiative repealed it.

Speakers on Sunday noted that Independence Hall was the site of the first Reminder Day picket for gay rights on July 4, 1965. That gathering attracted about 40 people, but about 150 attended the fifth one in 1969, just after the landmark Stonewall riots in New York, considered the birth of the U.S. gay rights movement.

Nurit Shein, executive director of the Mazzoni Center, a local health services office serving the gay community, told Sunday’s crowd that gays will be “seen” and “counted.”

“Equal means equal,” Shein said, “not separate, not less.”

© MMIX, The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Note:  This article was written  concerning the march on Philadelphia during the Gay Pride Parade to bring attention to the current health care issues for transgender people by Allison Woolbert with many members of the  Unitarian Universalist Congregation of South Jersey and Interweave of South Jersey.  Allison Woolbert was instrumental in organizing and getting people to the parade to speak loudly and defend the human rights of the LGBT.

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Allison Woolbert appointed as the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Transgender Advocate

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Woolbert named transgender advocate

CEO of Phoenix Consultants Group Allison Woolbert of Egg Harbor Township has been named transgender advocate to the Unitarian Universalist Unite Nations Office in New York.

In her position, Woolbert wil lead outreach to Unitarian Universalist congregations and allies in the United States to support the needs of people who are transgendered.

The UU-UNO is the foremost faith-based advocate for human rights for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) people.

Woolbert is founder and coordinator of Interweave of South Jersey, a membership organization actively working to end oppression based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

For more about the UU-UNO see www.uu-uno.org

Current of EHT / Wednesday, July 15, 2009

 

 

 

 

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The Ultimate Tree Logging Experience with Allison Woolbert

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oak treeSome days are computer days for Allison Woolbert as a custom software developer and there there are special days of the year- Tree Logging Days.  These are the days when select trees are carefully chosen to be harvested for the important work of building custom woodworking.

In recent years, a wonderful friend came up to her and asked if she was up for a challenge.  The challenge was a great oak tree that had been struck by lightening and had unfortunately died.  The tree itself was extremely tall as well as wide and needed to be cut down and the wood utilized in the best possible ways.  Always ready for a new challenge and an adventure, Allison agreed and thus the adventure began!  This alo became known as The Great Alice Oak Tree Project!  This magnificent oak beauty was such a gift and over time, has become one of the grandest challenges of her career.

The picture to the left shows Allison cutting down the large trunk portion that measured over five and a half feet across!  This ancient oak was to be memorialized for the family through furniture designs an through other fine woodworking and art.

 

Since Allison was young, her father trained her in the field of carpentry.  From the time she can remember, a hammer, screwdriver or saw was around in the shop ready to use.  Sometimes this adventure began early in the morning, other times when her father returned from the daily grind at the copper mine.

It was an interesting learning experience for Allison Woolbert on multiple levels and the carpentry and building skills gifted by Alexander Woolbert her father would translate into a multifaceted ability to take construction into everything from cooking, sewing to computer analysis.  The sky was the limit as furniture was built, kitchen cabinets, rockets, pinewood derby cars, tables, chairs, lights, shelves, bookcases and a dozen more items.

As a skilled carpenter from a young age, Allison has always enjoyed woodworking.  From bookcases to entertainment centers to Intarsia raccoons and guitars Allison continues to improve her skills and create unique items within the realm of woodworking.

Since before Allison Woolbert can remember, a hammer was in one hand and a screwdriver in another. Sent out to help her father with whatever project was happening, Allison learned a skill set valued to this day by herself, her family and the many clients that have enjoyed having a fine wood-worked item by Allison Woolbert.

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