Shorewood resident honored for work with the blind

Orgas advocates for equal rights for vision-impaired people

Cheryl Orgas stands between the Lawrence University President Jill Beck (left), and the president of the Lawrence Alumni Association, Cathy Statz. Orgas was honored by the university in June for her efforts on behalf of blind people.

Cheryl Orgas stands between the Lawrence University President Jill Beck (left), and the president of the Lawrence Alumni Association, Cathy Statz. Orgas was honored by the university in June for her efforts on behalf of blind people. Photo By Lawrence University

July 12, 2011

Shorewood - An activist and longtime Shorewood resident has been honored by her alma mater for her years of social service.

Lawrence University honored Cheryl Orgas at its annual alumni reunion celebration last month for her years dedicated to ensuring blind people have the same opportunities as those with sight.

The George B. Walter Service to Society Award is given to alumni who best exemplify the ideals of a liberal education through socially useful service in their community, the nation or the world. Orgas, as executive director of Audio and Braille Literacy Enhancement in Milwaukee and board member of Wisconsin Braille, certainly has done a great deal for the blind community, and is also an involved resident in Shorewood.

Encourages others

Her list of accomplishments is lengthy and impressive.

According to a news release from Lawrence University, Orgas is nationally recognized as an advocate for Braille literacy as a complement to audio-driven resources.

She is co-coordinator of the Braille Mentoring Program, which partners adult Braille readers with Braille literate students. Collaborating with The Badger Association and the Talking Book and Braille Library, she and ABLE help sponsor the Braille Games, a program that creates a competitive environment for children to practice their Braille skills.

"In my work with ABLE, I am determined to make sure that blind and print-disabled people get the information they need in Braille and or audio formats so that they can participate equally in school, at work and in their communities," she says.

She also has served on the Shorewood Lake Bluff Walk to School Committee while her son, now 17, was in grade school. She and her husband, Bill, have remained active members of Shorewood throughout their 22 years of residency.

First to graduate from college

Orgas, who has been blind since birth, was the first member of her family to graduate from college and is a 1982 graduate of Lawrence. During her time there, she focused on her academic degree, and senior year volunteered at the Winnebago Mental Health institute, which led her on the path to social service. Obtaining her masters from UW-Milwaukee in social work, she worked at the Counseling Center of Milwaukee, now known as Pathfinders, as a support and therapy group coordinator. She also had her own private practice in psychotherapy.

Orgas is the first blind person to be executive director of ABLE in its 46 years of operation, a position she has served since 2007.

Orgas and her husband, who is also blind, are members of the National Federation of the Blind, striving for equal opportunity for blind people. She has been a member for 30 years and Bill has been one for 35. Through NFB she works with blind children, their parents, and people losing vision. The Orgases received an award for their service to blind individuals from NFB.

"In The National Federation of the Blind, my husband, Bill, and I, work along side other blind people to make sure that all of us have the same opportunities as people with sight to live full, productive lives."

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