Judith Hendrickx – Change can be Transforming and Beautiful

Judith Hendrickx was born in San Francisco, raised in Los Angeles and then returned to the Bay Area for higher education. Starting from her early years, due to hereditary eye condition, she lost all her vision in one eye and most of her sight in the other.

Adjusting the way she accessed study materials Judith went on to attain a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling and for many years she has provided counseling and therapy to individuals and groups. Judith is proud of her accomplishments, particularly because of the techniques she has learned to work with her low vision. “Though at the time my sight loss seemed devastating, I’ve learned that change can be transforming and beautiful. Instead of feeling depressed I made up my mind I was going to do something really major with my life.”

Judith had established a relationship with the LightHouse earlier when her artwork was exhibited at the Insights Exhibition. With the referral of her Department of Rehabilitation Counselor Haruyo Nishimura, she attended our July 2011 Employment Immersion classes where she fine-tuned her resume, cover letters and networking skills to advance her job search.

When she didn’t find employment locally, she broadened her search to include out of state opportunities. During that time she networked with fellow Employment Immersion graduate Michael Petersen who had secured a job as a counselor for Pennsylvania’s Department of Rehabilitation. Here’s where networking paid off. Michael shared info about job openings and encouraged her to apply.

What followed was a whirlwind. Judith said, “I did a series of phone interviews with them and they offered me a position almost immediately. I had two weeks to move, to make it all happen, but I had the courage to do this because I wanted to work and be self-sufficient so badly. It was a huge and scary step for me to go to Pennsylvania, but I gained a lot of experience out of it and that led me to where I am now.”

She encourages blind and low vision jobseekers to take the eight-week LightHouse class. She said, “You can’t underestimate how positive it is to step into this community of diverse blind classmates – you hear their stories and are able to share yours. [Program leader] Kate Williams is wonderful; she has a great voice and personality and was so supportive of me even when I was 3000 miles away in Pennsylvania.”

Kate told us, “Judith has determination spelled with a capital “D”. I think Judith learned to appreciate the benefits of networking when she participated in the program, and I think it served her well. She made connections easily, her classmates supported her and she them – this is a wonderful benefit of the program.”

In 2012 Judith moved back to California in order to take care of her ailing mother. As soon as she was in a position to do so she used the skills and ongoing support from our Employment Immersion program to resume the job search. This time she found employment much closer to home. Judith is currently a counselor at the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center (ARC) in Lytton Springs, California, a residential treatment center for men recovering from drug and alcohol abuse. She loves her job and truly values her clients, rejoicing when the 12-step program she facilitates makes a difference in their lives.

As her clients learn alternative ways to move through life’s challenges, Judith’s own history allows her to empathize further and makes her a valuable role model. We congratulate her on her successes at ARC!

Our next Employment Immersion session begins Tuesday, May 16, 2014 and will take place at the LightHouse’s office at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley. For more information, call Kate Williams at 415-694-7324 or email her at kwilliams@lighthouse-sf.org.