Work

“Work” is a value-laden term that has changed drastically over time, particularly in relation to women’s daily lives. Despite a legacy of opinions to the contrary, WWHP views women’s work as inherently valuable, whether taking place in the formal structure of paid employment or the private realm of home and family. We seek to understand each woman’s work on her own terms in her own words.

Zelda Schwartz

Psychotherapist; Retired Director of Family Therapy at Jewish Family Services

there was an intellectual challenge always to being able to deal with large families and put the pieces together to see what would be the intervention that would help them begin to think of things in a new way. In other words, therapy is a way to help people find a new road map, so that they walk out of the office feeling a little bit differently about their issues. So I like the noise, and I like the challenge, and I love being with all sorts of different people, and I liked hearing their voices and trying to rearrange the voices so that they could hear each other. And most of the time when people come in to therapy …  not listening to each other, not knowing how to understand one another …  that becomes a challenge to find a way to make everybody’s voice count.

Zelda Schwartz was born in 1939 and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts.  She is a psychotherapist and retired Director of Family Therapy at the Jewish Family Services.

Interview Date: 
Tue, 11/09/2010
Interview Focus: 
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Schwartz

Karen Jean White

Dance Teacher and Owner of Dance Studio

We do nursing home shows and local things and community things, senior residences and we still do....so you get to practice your dance but dance is a performing art and if you don’t perform you don’t get the experience and the confidence developing it. I call it old dolls and new dolls and it’s one of the greatest joys of all. Teaching and being able to bring – I have students right through adult students who dance with me, little ones and their parents of the little ones. Oh they love it and this is great because to see the human interaction that goes on, the happiness, that’s just key so it’s really great. People that can’t move and then they’re watching other people that can, particularly the small ones that are so fresh and live.

Karen Jean White was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1948 and currently resides in West Boylston. Dancing since the age of four, Karen has devoted her life to the art. Finding babysitting to be a dull job, she began her own studio in her basement at the age of 13. She now owns the Karen Jean White School of Dance on West Boylston Street in West Boylston where she has been for 39 years. In this interview Karen elaborates on her career in dance and those who have impacted her life. Growing up in a loving home, she is extremely grateful for her childhood.

Interview Date: 
Fri, 11/19/2010
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White

Jeanne Tolomeo

Geriatric Care Manager

I would say to women it’s never too late to go to college, never too late to think you can’t change a career, no matter what your age is, there’s always some network or something that you can find either by volunteering or by connecting to work in a job or in education to bring you to another level. I just think you can never ever think no matter how old you are that ... you’re stuck in a rut and you can’t do anything else. I think you can always find an avenue to go, and it might take you lots of different jobs and lots of different places, but it’s where you end up that’s really, really important. So, never give up.

Jeanne Tolomeo was born in 1948 in Springfield, Massachusetts. She attended West Springfield High School and after graduating moved on to become a restaurant manager. At the age of forty, she attended Assumption College as a member of the Continuing Education Program and earned her college degree, which allowed her to pursue a career as a geriatric care manager. Jeanne currently works at Fletcher, Tilton, and Whipple in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Interview Date: 
Mon, 11/29/2010
Interview Focus: 
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Tolomeo

Jane Fine

Real estate Business Owner

I think every woman should be prepared to do what they want to do.  Don’t listen to anybody else and to also sorta feel out different opportunities.  When I was young my father would say, "Why don’t you be a dental hygienist?" He never said, "Why don’t you be a dentist?"  My brother was gonna be a doctor but I would be the dental hygienist.  Women aren’t there anymore, thank God. But there weren’t many role models when I grew up of women doing that.  I mean I do remember an orthodontist who was a woman who was one of my father’s friends.  But he never said, "Gee why don’t you do that?" The thing is, I think women need to be exposed. I like that program where women go to work with their fathers. I think the exposure and somehow I think in high school if there’s a way that kids can get exposed to different type of things at that time -- of fields and interests that they know what they want and go from there. 

Jane Fine was born in Brooklyn, New York on December 17, 1944, and attended New York University and Adelphi University where she received her Master’s degree in education. She began her real estate business of Fine Properties Inc. during her first marriage when she needed to make money to support her three children. After her divorce from her first husband, Jane moved to Worcester with her three children where she lived for many years on Berry Road and in a condo at Salisbury West for fifteen years after that.

Interview Date: 
Mon, 11/15/2010
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Fine

Pamela Reidy

Director of Mission, Notre Dame du Lac; teacher; Founder of Spirit of Hope

I started going to Haiti with students to have experiences working with the poor and that was over twenty years ago. When the [2010 Haiti ] earthquake happened -- to the beauty of Facebook, which I think is a support -- many of my students came back to me and said, "We know you still have to be in Haiti and what's going on? What can we do?" And so last January, my former stduents and I formed an organization called Spirit of Hope and we fund people to go and work in Haiti.

Pamela Jane Reidy was born on Easter Sunday 1950 in Worcester, Massachusetts where she resided with her family until the age of five when she moved to Sutton, MA. At the age of eighteen she entered college and pursued a degree in Education from Worcester State College. She went on to obtain a Master's in Theology from Assumption College. This led her to a teaching career at Notre Dame Academy, an all-girls' school in Worcester. After many years of teaching she left the field and is currently Director of Mission at Notre Dame du Lac. This job allows Pam to spend more time serving others.

Interview Date: 
Tue, 11/23/2010
Interview Focus: 
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Reidy

Jane Dupont

Owner of a Printing Company

Jane Dupont discusses her life growing up in Worcester with several siblings and her free-thinking parents who inspired her to love the arts and creative hobbies as well as the outdoors. Jane describes how living in the 1960s as a young woman shaped her life as she was exposed to new ideas and new ways ofthinking particularly about homosexuals, African-Americans, women, and religion. As a member of the first class of women at Assumption College, Jane thrived by taking part in the college newspaper which later helped her and her husband to begin their own printing company.

Interview Date: 
Wed, 11/10/2010
Interview Focus: 
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Dupont

Edla Bloom

Executive Director of AIDS Project Worcester and other organizations

I have very high expectations of myself and I am not sure I have been successful yet.  I think that’s because when my mother was dying. [Pause]  She said to my aunt…she said to my aunt, “You’ll have to take care of Sandra, but you’ll never have to worry about Edla Anne; she will take care of herself.”  And that’s what drives me. So that’s quite a compliment, but it’s also a curse, so it goes both ways.  But, that’s what keeps me going.

Edla Anne Bloom was born and raised on Belmont Hill in Worcester, Massachusetts.  She lived for several years in Holden, Massachusetts, and currently resides in Worcester with her husband Randy.  Now, around 60 years of age, she has been involved in Worcester for over 30 years through her work, cancer and AID’s awareness, and church.  At the age of 16, her mother passed away to cancer, leaving Edla and her sister to fend for themselves.  She attended North High, than later went on to the Worcester City Hospital School of Nursing in hopes of becoming a medical missionary,

Interview Date: 
Thu, 11/11/2010
Interview Focus: 
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Bloom

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 bu

Interview Date: 
Fri, 10/22/2010
Interview Focus: 
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Wierbik

Kilbyanne Garabedian

Lawyer, R.N.

I like the path I chose. I’ve had a…wonderful opportunity to have about four careers when you think about it because I’ve been a nurse, I teach at the medical school so I’ve been a nurse, a lawyer, a teacher, a mother all of those…you know they’re all wonderful opportunities and I’m very happy that I’ve been able to do that.

This is the interview of Kilbyanne Garabedian who was born in 1944 in Boston, Massachusetts.  She attended Assumption College, was a part of the Worcester Women’s History Project, and now works for the General Council for UMass Memorial Hospital in Worcester.  Kilbyanne talks in the interview about her parents’ lives and her family’s lineage dating back to the Mayflower coming to the New World. She discusses growing up in an all Protestant neighborhood and going to high school in the 1950s. Kilbyanne went to school for many different things including nursing, medicine, and law.

Interview Date: 
Fri, 10/29/2010
Interview Focus: 
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Garabedian

Rosa Lee Timm

Deaf actress

I’m very proud that I did the one-woman show.  When I first started, I was afraid. You know the Deaf community can be very critical. They would criticize if I used too many songs in my show, if the show was boring, if they didn’t really get it, and the deaf community is a close-knit group.  And it’s very easy for the opinion of one to influence the entire group.  If they didn’t like my show, I would take it personally that they didn’t like me so that didn’t do a lot for my ego.  Then I had a conversation with myself and I told myself that’s a challenge for me.  If I want to be strong and develop confidence I have to just go ahead and do it anyway. It doesn’t matter if the deaf community likes me or don’t like me, this is my work, this is my art, I have to try.  So I am proud of the fact that I did do it, I’m proud of the accomplishments that I made from then to now. 

Rosa Lee Timm is a Deaf actress who currently lives in Worcester MA.  She was born deaf in 1976 in a small country town in California. She grew up in a very close-knit, religious, bi-racial, Deaf family whose first language was American Sign Language.  With the constant support of her family and the Deaf community around her, her deafness created no communication or social barriers to her throughout her childhood.  Rosa Lee attended a state school for the Deaf for her high school years and she graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology with a B.S. in Social Work.

Interview Date: 
Sat, 02/13/2010
Interview Focus: 
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Timm

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