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.

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
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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
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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
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Timm

Heidi Reed

Massachusetts Commissioner for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

There are soooo many positives to working with the Deaf and hard of hearing community. There are tremendous opportunities to share knowledge and experiences. Everyone’s stories are just so different and interesting. Now I like to tell people how to live if they become Deaf or hard of hearing. Let them know the technologies and all the things they are able to do. That’s a great part of my job. Now I really like to inform them that they can live a full life as a Deaf or hard of hearing person. There are so many positive things about my job. I work with a great team of individuals that are just so skilled at what they do. People contact us every day with so many different questions and my staff is always able to answer them, quickly and efficiently. It’s such a supportive environment.

Heidi Reed is a native of Massachusetts. She became Deaf at 18 months old due to antibiotics. Heidi was raised orally (using speech and lip-reading for communication) in a family who could all hear. Heidi first became aware of Deaf culture and learned American Sign Language (ASL) at the age of 25 when she attended graduate school at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. There she had a newfound identity and awareness of herself, as a member of the Deaf community.

Interview Date: 
Fri, 02/19/2010
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Reed

Sr. Francis del Marmol

Nun, medical worker in Africa

If you’re sure you can’t do it, ask God…

Sr. Francis del Marmol was born in New Orleans, LA on December 8, 1924. She moved to Worcester about ten years ago to live on the Assumption College campus with her community of sisters. Sr. Francis attended Newcomb College at Tulane University where she studied medicine. She moved around the country running her own anesthesia department in various hospitals. She later joined the convent and became a nun. She was soon sent off to Africa where she opened her own dispensary. Upon coming back to the United States she was eager to learn and update her medical knowledge.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 11/19/2009
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Marmol

Stephanie Taylor

Counselor, Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

There’s actually nothing wrong with having an opinion, with having a point of view, and with letting other people know what it is and I still struggle with that often because I do want to be a people pleaser and that stems from like, middle child syndrome, therapist syndrome, wanting to just fix everything and make it better and if you can sort of, in some way lose yourself to save the rest of the world you’ll do it, which is another very big danger of my job. But, that’s not really what we’re meant to do as people, we should be somehow contributing to our community, to our families, to our careers, to whatever it is that we’re doing, don’t sell yourselves short.  It’s just, with the whole glass ceiling thing and women get paid 76 cents on the dollar compared to men, blah blah blah, what it really comes down to is - listen - you could moan and complain about it or you could demand change.

Interview Date: 
Tue, 10/20/2009
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Taylor

Jacqueline Scafidi

Senior Computer Consultant
Everybody’s got regrets. You know, again not going to school, there’s a few career choices that I wished I had made and a few personal choices I wish I had made, but when push comes to shove, it makes me what I am so how can you regret it?

Interview Date: 
Tue, 11/10/2009
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Scafidi

Gale Nigrosh

College Professor and Coordinator of Higher EducationPartnerships for Worcester Public Schools

When I was studying French at Barnard I was going to be a translator for the UN. But at the time, there were fewer options for women, and it’s so exciting to see how many options women have now. I remember going to the bank for a mortgage that my first husband and I bought in 1969. The only way that a woman could qualify on a mortgage…had any collateral weight, was as a nurse or a teacher. Otherwise nothing. And the way the mortgage was written. It was written in the husband’s name, Et. Ux. meaning “and wife.” So, I had no name even.

Interviewer: 
Interview Date: 
Wed, 11/01/2006
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Nigrosh

Annette Dudek

Graduate Student, Social Worker

Work is very important, because I feel like no matter what field people are in, you spend a lot of time at work, more so than with your family and friends. So I feel it’s very important to pick something you’re passionate about and that you enjoy, but I always think it’s important to have a balance and not have work kind of overtake everything. It can be difficult --  for me work is probably 75%, it’s a big chunk of what I’m doing -- but I think its important to find a balance.

Annette Dudek was born in Worcester, MA in 1981. She attended Catholic schools, graduated from St. Joseph’s College with a degree in Sociology, and is currently completing her master’s degree in Social Work at Boston College. In this interview, she discusses her Polish upbringing and the culture’s influence on her life as well as growing up in her neighborhood. She also talks about her love of working with the elderly and how she tries to balance her personal and professional life.
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Interview Date: 
Mon, 02/23/2009
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Dudek

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