Urzula Wierbik

Cleaning Company Owner, Polish Immigrant

I never worked for somebody I worked for myself from the beginning. But I start to---just opened the service because I had so many customers and I just realized I saved money better than nursing home, than nurse’s aide, and there was flexible hours, there was mother hours.  And I had the two children so it was easy for me to do this kind of the job.  But I got so many clients I don’t know what to do with them!  So I opened a cleaning service.

Urszula Wierbik was born in Slupsk, Poland in 1950.  She attended grammar and high school in Poland and became involved in various recreational clubs.  After marrying her husband of 41 years and having two children, a boy and a girl, she came to the United States in order to receive medical treatment for an undisclosed illness.  She did not speak a word of English and was only granted permission for herself and her daughter to leave Poland, forcing her to leave her family and friends behind.  She received her treatment and built a home for herself, and started her own business to provide for her and her daughter.  Eventually, her husband and son were able to join Urszula and her daughter in Worcester.  Urszula’s husband became a factory worker and she began a cleaning business without ever advertising. The flexible hours of her cleaning service allowed Urszula to focus on the maintenance of her home, family finances, and other domestic responsibilities such as cooking and cleaning. In the interview, Urszula acknowledges her cleaning business as something in which she takes great pride and enjoys. She explains that her domestic responsibilities mirror what would have been expected of women her age in Poland, and that her husband focuses on the exterior of the home (landscaping, repairs, etc.), providing them with equal responsibilities in the sustenance of their home. Throughout the interview, Urszula highlights the fact that her ability to own and run her own business provides her with opportunities to maintain an intimate and close relationship with her husband, children, and grandchildren.  One of the final questions was if she thought she had a legacy, after all she had been through.  Her response was, “I don’t feel that way. It’s just you have the duty to do and you just have to accomplish.” This speaks volumes about the kind of person Urszula Hierbik is and her attitude of overcoming all obstacles that appear in her path.

Interview
Interview Date: 
October 22, 2010
Transcript: 
Interview Focus: