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.

Louise Charbonneau

Director, Holden Senior Center

We work for the government, okay?  But we make a difference every day.   And we can see it.  We never have the same day two days in a row.  Here.  Ever.  But because we deal with people and their lives—okay, we deal with the elders, we deal sometimes with their families, trying to help the elders.  We get a lot of feedback that says, especially after someone’s lost a spouse, “I don’t know where I would have been if you people in this building weren’t here.”  So you make a difference every day.  And that’s important to us.  And it’s gratifying.  It really is.  They are a very grateful population, I mean a lot of people will say, “How do you do what you do?  Old people are cranky.”  And yes they are, some of them, but not all of them.  In fact, a very few of them are.  Most of them are quite good-natured and very happy just to be able to come here every day.  It's important to me to make a difference.  And I can honestly say that my staff and I do.   

Louise Charbonneau was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1954.  She is the daughter of Blanche and Wallace Seager, of Swedish and German decent, and originating from Holden, Massachusetts.  Louise grew up in a Protestant home where she attended church every Sunday.  She has two older siblings, one brother, and one sister.  Louise started her working profession for WPI [Worcester Polytechnic Institute] as a secretary for the president.  She married soon after graduating from a two-year college, Becker Junior College, continuing to work for WPI.  Some years lat

Interview Date: 
Mon, 11/17/2014
Name Sort: 
Charbonneau

Julie Bailey

Director, Lenfest Animal Health Center, Becker College

I didn't know after college that I was going to go to vet school.  I went and worked for a couple of vets, I worked with a large animal vet, I worked on a farm.  I worked for a small animal vet clinic.  I worked at UMass Memorial doing some volunteer work, doing the child life program kind of going between the human side and the vet side, trying to figure out which I would be better at.  I loved the human side but I realized I was probably just too sensitive for that and I got so attached to the kids that I was working with and I didn't think I was probably the right personality for going into human medicine.  I would've gone into pediatrics, that was definitely what I loved [laughs], but then I realized that would probably be too emotionally hard for me. So, it was hard being a vet too, but it was something I thought I could handle better. 

Julie Bailey was born in Lancaster, Massachusetts in 1974 and attended University of Miami and Colorado State University. Julie began to work for a couple of veterinarians  and animal clinics, then found herself volunteering at the UMASS Memorial Hospital in the child life program. It was at the UMASS Memorial Hospital that Julie realized she could not face children day-to-day and not get emotionally attached so she decided to become a veterinarian.

Interview Date: 
Mon, 11/24/2014
Interview Focus: 
Name Sort: 
Bailey

Erica Ayisi

Reporter, Worcester News Tonight

You only have one life to live.  We are all here one time, and to wake up every day is a blessing.  Some people don't wake up.  Some people wake up and they don’t have legs so they can’t go anywhere, or their legs don’t work.  Or they wake up and they don’t have heat.  I mean, I don’t know, maybe it’s from living in Ghana with no lights and no running water, and some things become important to you versus other things.  So, I’m very grateful.  I’m very, very blessed.

Erica Ayesi is currently a reporter for Worcester News Tonight.  Although she was born in Marlboro, Erica spent a large portion of her childhood in Worcester, and taught at her own high school, Burncoat High School, for six years.  Erica knew that she wanted to be a reporter and, having attained both a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree from the New York Institute of Technology, she was confident that she could succeed.  After an internship with New York One, Erica gained an international internship with eTV Ghana.  This internship became a full-time pos

Interview Date: 
Sun, 11/16/2014
Interview Focus: 
Name Sort: 
Ayisi

Tanja Olson

German Jew immigrant from Shanghai

That trip was quite interesting in some ways. I thought it was very exciting being almost 11 years old. We got onto a ship in Shanghai, the SS General Gordon. And we were on third class, so we had – were not in the greatest of places. But, we landed in San Francisco. The trip over was like I said, interesting because we stopped in three different places – we stopped in two different places. We stopped in Yokohama, Japan and we stopped in Hawaii and then we landed at San Francisco. And we went to Worcester due to the fact that there were –some of the churches in the Worcester area were, at that point, getting involved in trying to sponsor people and the people that- in, it was I think a Baptist church-the family that decided to sponsor us were here in Worcester. And when we got to San Francisco we got a ticket on a train and went all the way across the country from San Francisco to Chicago, from Chicago to Worcester.

Tanja Olson was born in Berlin, Germany on November 12, 1938 and later lived in Worcester for a good portion of her life. As a Jew in Nazi Europe, she and her family were forced to flee their home and came to reside in Shanghai, China. During their time in Shanghai, both Tanja’s mother and father passed away, but luckily Tanja’s grandmother, Margaret Mendel, was there to take care of her. Once leaving Shanghai, Tanja and her grandmother came to live in Worcester. In this interview, Tanja discusses the portion of her life spent in Shanghai.

Interviewer: 
Interview Date: 
Tue, 03/11/2014
Interview Focus: 
Name Sort: 
Olson

Cherisa Hernandez

High School Math Teacher

Women are very strong individuals. We’re not necessarily strong in strength, but we show our strength in other places. We are very compassionate and we are strong in that aspect. I am very compassionate about my job, I’m very passionate about my job and in my job I show compassion.

Cherisa Hernandez was born in1985 in Boston, Massachusetts. Originally from Trinidad, with her father currently residing in her homeland, she has lived in Massachusetts most of her life, but did attend some schooling in Trinidad. Growing up in the inner city of Boston, she was able to participate in the METCO program, allowing her to receive an education at a suburban school system, in Concord, which helped her achieve her educational goals. Cherisa did not always aspire to be a teacher; originally she planned on studying Pre-Law at Boston College.

Interview Date: 
Mon, 03/31/2014
Interview Focus: 
Name Sort: 
Hernandez

Barbara Guertin

Actress,prodeucer,director; recruiter Fallon Community Health Plan

When I helped produce a film a couple years ago I realized we don’t have any equipment or anything here. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had our own little studio. Well now it’s – my own little studio has grown into – we’re building up the roof on this, it’ll be the second largest film studio in the country. it’s a big film studio! It’s a pretty impressive space, I’ve tried to align myself with some folks, we’re trying to make this happen. We’ve already raised a significant amount, but we’re hoping to raise a good deal more and build it out the right way. And I – we do believe the films will come.

Barbara Guertin was born in 1960, in Bay Shore, New York. She has lived in a variety of states, such as New York, New Jersey, and Oregon, she even spent some time living abroad in London. Barbara has been living in Worcester since 1998 and is a recruiter at Fallon Community Health Plan. She contributes a great deal to the Worcester community, by serving on many different boards such as the Worcester Historical Museum and Girls, Inc.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 04/03/2014
Interview Focus: 
Name Sort: 
Guertin

Lynn Cody

Marketing and media administrator

I mean the fire was really something. It’s hard even explaining what it was like to people who weren’t here then. I feel like everyone was kind of connected to that in some way, you know. One of the families grew up around the corner from us so we went to grammar school with them. I mean it was pretty significant. I can’t think of anything on that same level. So it was [December 3, 1999] I believe and it was at night. I was at home, but my younger sister was at the Auburn Mall with her friends. And my mom had, was driving out to pick her up kind of at the beginning of all of this before they started shutting down the streets. On their way home they were redirected, they had to go a different way but on her way out to the Auburn Mall she took [Route] 290 like how you would just normally go to get out to the Auburn Mall. And she said that the heat coming off of that building, even on the far side of 290, she said it was so hot coming in the side of her car that she thought the window would burst. And at that time we, no one, I mean it wasn’t quite on the news it was kind of like, “Oh there’s a fire in Worcester.” You know, those kind of stories are on the news all the time, no one was really thinking anything of it. But I mean, parts of 290 and roads were closed for weeks.  It was really massive. I mean the building that came down was…I mean it was huge. And it’s weird kind of now to think about like now I just drive by. I mean I drive on that road every day. I drive on 290 every day to get to work. But it’s funny to think, “Oh my God, for half of my life I drove by a building that just doesn’t exist anymore and took six people’s lives and changed their families’ lives forever.” You know, I mean that’s pretty significant.

Lynn Cody was born in 1983 in the Burncoat neighborhood of Worcester, MA. She has resided in Worcester for the majority of her life, with the exception of the four years in which she attended Stonehill College in Easton, MA. She currently is head of dining services and social media at the College of the Holy Cross and is married to husband Ryan Cody. Living in the city of Worcester has played a significant role in shaping her as a woman and has caused her to feel a certain bond to her city.

Interview Date: 
Mon, 04/07/2014
Interview Focus: 
Name Sort: 
Cody

Erin Bradbury

Lawyer; Owns law firm; Community Volunteer

My father  was the one who prepared me for college. He, from the time I was in the fourth grade and he realized that I had skills for academics, took me out – I’m sorry I’m crying – and purchased a  desk for me. And we didn’t have a lot of money, but he went out and bought me a brand new desk that I picked out because being a student was my only job. Excuse me, he encouraged me to look at Smith College. I wasn’t looking at any other single-sex schools and he asked me to look at Smith College and took me around to all my college interviews and helped me prepare the tape, my audition tape, for all the schools. He’s the one [who] went out and bought the equipment to be able to make a recording, I recorded a Mozart concerto and I played the flute part and then I learned the piano part which was condensed for an orchestra score and he recorded both parts. So, I accompanied myself on this audition tape. So my father was a huge contributor.

Erin Bradbury was born in Grafton Hill in Worcester in 1972. She attended Wachusett Regional High School, Smith College and Suffolk University Law School. She is a lawyer currently practicing law and owns her own practice in Holden, Massachusetts. Erin is a mother of two, a wife, and an active volunteer, and also has musical abilities. In this interview, she discusses her family aspects and how much they mean to her and how they influenced her life decisions. For example, she discusses how her mother was a “great debater” and how she taught her to stand up for herself.

Interview Date: 
Fri, 02/28/2014
Name Sort: 
Bradbury

Luanne Westerling

Associate Dean of Business Studies, Program Chair Business Communications, Nichols College

When you are comfortable you are not learning and you are not pushing yourself.  So sometimes you’ll be offered an opportunity, and I think women do this, they say, “Oh my God, I couldn’t possibly do that,” because I think we underestimate what we can do.  And so what I would say to you is, “Do it.  Put yourself outside of your comfort zone and give it a try.

Luanne Vardo Westerling was born in Meriden, Connecticut in 1963.  As an undergraduate student she attended Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.  Luanne says she began developing her leadership skills in college as a Resident Assistant and these skills later helped her to transition into careers in business and higher education.  Although she briefly considered a career in law, Luanne is very proud of her current position as Associate Dean of Business Studies and Program Chair of Business Communication at Nichols College which allows her to bring her leadership ski

Interview Date: 
Wed, 11/13/2013
Interview Focus: 
Name Sort: 
Westerling

Polly Tatum

Lawyer; third woman and first person of color to serve as President of Worcester County Bar Association

That was the challenge. Sleep deprived; didn’t have computers back then, so I typed everything out on a word processor, so I used my secretarial skills. The challenges were working full time, raising a family, having three children, my husband at the time was just new to the police force, so he was working nights, and just trying to balance everything. It was a struggle, but – so I guess from undergrad to law school because I went straight through, it took me ten years; and anything worth having…you have, you fight for it, so that’s what I try to instill in my own daughters. But to do it all over again, I wouldn’t have the energy to do all that. 

Polly Tatum was born in Leominster, Massachusetts in 1964, where she lived from childhood into adolescence with her adoptive parents.  In this interview, Polly talks about the challenges she faced during her many years in education.  She enrolled at Worcester State College, achieved her undergraduate degree, and went on to get her JD while simultaneously raising a family of three daughters.  Polly shares a message of motivation and strength in professional and personal lives.  Being adopted as an infant, Polly also emphasizes the importance of family.  Polly had bot

Interview Date: 
Mon, 11/25/2013
Name Sort: 
Tatum

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Work