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Resident Showcase

Current Showcase

Carol Biondolillo

Tech Supporter, Needleworker, Reader

Before the pandemic shutdown, explains Carol Biondolillo, GHBC resident Russ O’Connell was a one-man technology support center for fellow residents, particularly those who didn’t have access to outside tech support. “Russ did everything, from changing toner cartridges to rebuilding computers,” Carol recalls. When the pandemic hit, GHBC residents’ need for tech support exploded.

Russ and his wife Carolyn, and Andrea and Walt Baumann put their heads together, Carol continues, and came up with a plan. They reached out to Carol, a gifted organizer, to make the plan a reality: a network of volunteers on call to help residents. Carol put notices in West Winds seeking more volunteers, and widely publicized her email address so residents needing help would know where to turn. “I’m not the techie,” she says. “I take the problem, whether it’s with a Mac or PC, and connect with the right volunteer.”

Sadly, Russ’s health declined and he died in May 2022, but “as GHBC reopened from covid restrictions, we decided to do what Russ had always done: being in the Bistro for breakfast,” Carol says. “We decided to have a clinic two mornings a week in the Bistro,” when residents can stop by with their devices and get help with problems.

The volunteer technology help team – the “Bistro bunch” – now includes Ric Blacksten, Mike Molino, Paul Bickart, Jennifer Frum, and Jeanne Springmann. They are in the Bistro every Monday and Thursday from 9 to 10:30 a.m. to help residents with technology problems on their portable devices. They also make house calls.


The Bistro Bunch on a recent morning, from left: Paul Bickart, Mike Molino, Jennifer Frum, Carol Biondolillo (standing) and Ric Blacksten

In addition to coordinating volunteer tech support, Carol cochairs GHBC’s new Technology Committee, with Wren Gurney. The Technology Committee was formed in 2021 to provide a forum for residents to assist other residents and the administration in the provision of technology equipment and services.


Tech Committee cochairs Carol Biondolillo and Wren Gurney

The Technology Committee undertook an initial survey, a census of residents’ use of technology and problems encountered. “It was one of the most important things we’ve done,” says Carol. The team used Survey Monkey to provide hard data on residents’ technology competencies and challenges.


At the August 2022 Tech Committee meeting

The Technology Committee meets monthly. Executive Director Justin Carwile attends as the group’s staff liaison, and Andrea Baumann is liaison to the Resident Council. Committee activities and areas of interest include classes, information on how to recognize and avoid scams, and use of technology to help low vision and hearing impairments. Carol anticipates an uptick in calls for help as Cox Cable is introduced, because Facilities Management has requested Tech Committee help orienting residents to the new service and voice-activated remote controls.

Carol’s Road to GHBC

Carol was born and grew up in Buffalo, N.Y. She attended Catholic school through eighth grade and won a scholarship to a Catholic high school, where she joined the debating society and library group. She continued on a state scholarship at a Catholic women’s college, now D’Youville University, in Buffalo. Moving to Detroit, she earned a master’s degree in history at the University of Detroit. She then did graduate work at the University of Virginia and taught American history as a teaching fellow and an instructor for five years at the University of Detroit. While there, she also earned a degree in library science from the University of Michigan.

   
Carol as a baby ...   As a schoolgirl ...   And on graduating from college

 

In 1974 Carol took the federal Civil Service exam, and she accepted a job offer from the Department of the Army Materiel Command as a personnel specialist in St. Louis. After several years, she returned to Detroit to work at the Army’s Tank Automotive Command. Her next move was to Charlottesville, Va., to the Army Foreign Science and Technology Center.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office brought Carol to Arlington, Va., in 1991, still as a personnel specialist doing job design and salary analyses. She stayed with the PTO in Crystal City until retirement in 1999.


During her PTO years

On retiring from PTO, Carol became a librarian at the State Department Foreign Service training facility in Arlington until 2003, a job she loved for its interesting work and people. From 2003 until moving to GHBC in 2019, Carol volunteered with the Arlington County Library system, particularly the Shirlington Library near her home in Fairlington.

 
Samples of Carol's needlework    

 

   
More needlework        


Needlework is a longtime interest of Carol’s; her handiwork brightens her Crossroads apartment, and her decorations change with the seasons. “I’m a reader,” she says, “not a big traveler. And I’m not a gardener. I have a black rather than a green thumb.” She attends all the Newcomers Et Al. sessions and volunteers as a newcomers’ buddy, helping new arrivals adjust to living at GHBC.

We’re all indebted to Carol for bringing us the technical support we need to stay connected to our friends and neighbors at Goodwin House and to our families and friends in the world beyond.

By Nancy DeMarco

 

 



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