Feature Volunteer: Judith Guttman

Judy was born and raised in Montreal. She studied to be a teacher and in 1976 got a job in Toronto at The Leo Baeck Day School as a Senior Kindergarten teacher. She loved it and taught there for 11 years. In the 1980s, York Region was opening up as a place with a growing population, and Judy pulled up stakes and jumped into the York Region District School Board. From 1987, for the next 25 years she taught in a few different schools in York Region, teaching mostly Grade 1, Senior and Junior Kindergarten, and Reading Recovery. Judy found teaching very fulfilling and rewarding. Opening young minds to reading was the highlight of her career.

In 2010, she took a leave of absence from teaching, and at that time found volunteering at the Bernard Betel Centre. Her parents did various volunteer jobs in Montreal which taught her to think of volunteering as a way to give back to her community. Her first volunteer job at Betel was with the Meals on Wheels program. Because she would be travelling a lot, Judy became an emergency replacement worker for that year. She went back to teaching for 2 more years and then retired.

When Judy again approached the Betel Centre for volunteer work, she saw that the computer department was offering classes and volunteered in the varied classes taught by Dianne Erdos Rush, Frank Cosentino, and Ron Berman. She especially enjoyed the iPhone and iPad classes, always learning something new along with the seniors each week. She turned down the opportunity of a teaching job in the computer lab at Betel as she felt she could not commit fully to the job. As her parents were aging, she travelled frequently to be with them.

In the fall of 2019, Cheryl Besner, Manager, Volunteer Services was doing a full review and update of the Volunteer Services policies. She needed someone with expertise in editing and Judy was the perfect fit. Judy reviewed several drafts before the policies were completed and ready for approval.

Judy enjoys meeting and mentoring the senior students, helping them open their eyes to new technical possibilities. She is a teacher at heart! She is patient, logical, and sequential. These strengths make her an amazing teacher and a strong aide in the classroom. She always felt that this type of volunteer work was an extension of her teaching career.

Judy is very happy that COVID has finally subsided and that she is back at the Betel Centre!

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