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.

Laurie Tigan

Director of Literacy Volunteers of Greater Worcester; Teacher

Literacy Volunteers trains adults in the community to work with other adults who don’t speak English or cannot read. And the partnership usually takes place over the course of a year or two years. We found that we couldn’t meet nearly the number of people who wanted tutors. When I first came on the job, there were maybe 50 people on the waiting list. Today we have over 300 people waiting for tutors, so we’ve offered classes to, sort of, “keep people in the loop” while they’re waiting for a tutor. We’re finding that the Albanian population and the…[pauses] we’re seeing a lot of Somalis and folks from Nepal and Ghana and Liberia, so there’s, I would say Africa is an area that many people come from. The majority of them have some [English], but not enough really to survive in the community. So therefore they stay in their own little group so that they can support each other and not have to speak outside their group.

Laurie Tigan (née D’Amico) was born in Barrington, Rhode Island in 1951 and attended Barrington High School. She entered Assumption College in 1970, the first year that women were accepted and graduated in 1973 with a degree in History. After college, Laurie moved to Newport, RI where she worked as a teacher for 32 years, also volunteering in many after-school programs. After marrying her husband, Dr. Mark Tigan, they both moved to Worcester when he accepted a teaching job at Clark University.

Interview Date: 
Tue, 03/13/2012
Interview Focus: 
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Tigan

Sr. Nuala Cotter

Assumption Professor and Sister of the Religious of the Assumption

The church is a community of people who are in relationship with Christ. And so I live my life with them and I think that gives me a lot of balance. It certainly gives me a lot of hope most of the time.

Sister Nuala Cotter is an Irish-American who was born on February 18th, 1955. As a child, she lived in Tuckahoe, New York. Her father was a teacher and her mother developed Multiple Sclerosis. She helped take care of her mother, which forced her to grow up faster than she would have liked. She attended Mount Saint Ursula High School, followed by the College of New Rochelle, University of Pennsylvania, and Saint Michaels College. Sister Nuala arrived in Worcester in 1989 to join the Assumption Sisters.

Interview Date: 
Tue, 04/03/2012
Interview Focus: 
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Cotter

Nancy Dube

Human Resources Consultant

[My work] has allowed me to grow more professionally—I’ve learned to be an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that I have to work very hard… I can’t depend on anyone else for money or for support.  Anything that I want to generate has to come from within, but it’s also allowed me to have more creativity and a lot more freedom.

Nancy Dube grew up in Framingham, MA and moved to Worcester, MA in 1971 when she went to Becker College. During her school years, she faced financial issues, but was able to overcome them. She married, divorced, and is now married to her current husband William Dube. Together they have had two children. After her divorce, religion played a huge role in her life and still does to this day, which allowed her to relay her faith to her children. After she got laid off, she decided to start her own business because she didn’t want to go into corporate America again.

Interview Date: 
Wed, 03/21/2012
Interview Focus: 
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Dube

Anne Kruse

Convention Sales Manager, DCU Center of Worcester

I was a single mom with two little kids, two little boys, and I knew that God had a plan for me that was better than where I was or what I was doing. I would see business women driving down the street while I was pushing along my babies in carriages and I would think, “Geez, I thought I was gonna be a business woman,” you know what I mean? And I would see, you know, people my age buying houses and I thought I was going to have a house and I thought I was gonna have a picket fence, you know and all that stuff [laughs]. And I always had faith in the fact that it would really happen.

Anne Kruse was born in 1952 to Grace and Daniel Sullivan. She grew up in the Greendale section of Worcester, Massachusetts with her mother, father, older sister, and four younger brothers. She lives in Worcester and went to school here, and has lived in Worcester, Massachusetts all her life. She never went to college, but worked hard and built her life up from there, even though she did encounter some obstacles along the way. Some of Anne’s most defining characteristics are how optimistic and faithful she is.

Interview Date: 
Wed, 03/14/2012
Interview Focus: 
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Kruse

Melissa Gibson

Pet Store Owner;Barrel Racer and Rodeo

I barrel race with the National Barrel Race Association. And I rodeo. Barrel racing is a clover leaf pattern, so you come around. You go through one barrel, another barrel, a third barrel and the back. You’re on a horse, and you’re going as fast as the horse can go and the tightest turns you can make, and you stay on. [Laughs] I’m actually state champion this year and won the state year end also for high points. So, I’m looking forward for this season. I’ve got three horses to ride so we’ll see.

Melissa Gibson was born in 1972. She was raised in Stow, Massachusetts, by her mother and father. From the ages eight to fourteen Melissa lived on a farm where she developed a deep passion for animals. After high school, Melissa married Bob Gibson, Jr. During the twenty-two years of their marriage she gave birth to three children. While pregnant with her third child she began attending night classes at Fisher College where she received her Associate Degree in Business and Accounting.

Interview Date: 
Mon, 04/16/2012
Interview Focus: 
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Gibson

Matilde Castiel

Spanish Interview -- Médica, UMass Hospital and Medical School; Dirige la Casa de Héctor Reyes;Lugar de origen: Cuba

Nací en Cuba hasta los siete… siete años, seis y medio… siete años y después vine a los Estados Unidos… en un programa que se llamaba "Peter Pan" la expedición de Pedro Pan.

Yo no hablaba inglés y fui a la escuela sin hablar inglés…. eso era muy difícil y después cuando mis padres vinieron era mejor para mí pero era más difícil para mis padres porque era una cultura nueva, nuevo lenguaje.

La Dra. Matilde Castiel nació en Cuba el 13 de noviembre de 1954. En esta entrevista ella menciona cómo con tan sólo seis años y medio, ella llegó a los Estados Unidos junto a su hermano mayor y muchos otros niños en lo que fue la Operación Pedro Pan. Una vez en este país, ella tuvo que ser acogida por una familia hasta que sus padres lograron inmigrar a Estados Unidos. La Dra. Castiel realizó sus estudios universitarios y de medicina en la Universidad de California, en San Francisco. Ahora vive en Holden junto a su esposo, Aaron Mendel, y sus dos hijos.

Interview Date: 
Wed, 03/23/2011
Interview Language: 
Spanish
Interview Focus: 
Name Sort: 
Castiel

Matilde Castiel

English Translation -- Physician, UMass Medical School; Director, Héctor Reyes House; Born in Cuba

I was born in Cuba and I remained there until the age of ... six and a half to seven years and then I came to the United States in a program called … Operation Peter Pan.

[It was difficult] because when I came I was only six and a half or seven years old and had to leave my parents in Cuba, and I came with a woman that I did not know. I didn’t speak English and I went to school without knowing how to speak English. So, this was very difficult. After, when my parents came things became better for me. However, it was more difficult for them because they were now living in a new culture, a new language.

Dr. Matilde Castiel was born in Cuba on November 3, 1954. In this interview she discusses how as a young girl she participated in "Operation Peter Pan," which brought her and her older brother, along with many other children, from Cuba to the United States. She then had to live with a foster family until her parents were able to immigrate to the United States. Dr. Castiel did her undergraduate studies at the University of California in San Francisco, and later earned a medical degree from that same institution.

Interview Date: 
Wed, 03/23/2011
Interview Language: 
Spanish
Interview Focus: 
Name Sort: 
Castiel

Lorraine Connolly

Retired computer programmer

I guess you just have to set your goals in life and stick to them, no matter what your goal is. You don't have to be a movie star or the President of the United States, but you know, decide what you want to do--stick with it.

Lorraine Connolly was born in Worcester in 1931. She resided with her parents and siblings in the lower Franklin Street area and went to area schools including North High School. She attended computer programming school shortly after the birth of her daughter and has worked steadily ever since. She describes the Worcester she knew and how it differs from today's Worcester.  

Interviewer: 
Interview Date: 
Fri, 08/12/2011
Interview Focus: 
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Connolly

Wilma Sanchez

Licensed Addiction Drug Counselor

I love what I do. I just have a passion. I don’t know, I guess God knew what He was doing. I have a passion and a way of talking to people that motivates them. I’ve been pretty good. I have had some sad stories, people that go back out and they usually get to me. But I don’t give up. They didn’t give up on me, why should I give up on them? What you’ve heard is just a partial part of my story and my life. It’s no story, it’s my life, reality. Sometimes it makes me sad, but it makes me happy to know where I’m at today. My goal now is to write a book.

Wilma Sanchez was born in Puerto Rico where she lived with her father’s family until the age of six. At that time she began living with her mother and she describes episodes of neglect and sexual abuse. In this interview Wilma explains how she began using drugs, became involved with men who sold drugs, had two sons, was diagnosed HIV positive, and had a relationship with a female friend. Eventually her drug habit led her to prostitution and a jail sentence. Wilma entered a drug treatment program and overcame her drug habit.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 03/24/2011
Interview Focus: 
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Sanchez

Carrie Johnson

Business Owner, Author, Professor

It helped me realize that…it helped me feel like I was worth something. You know, I had 65 people depending upon me for their paychecks, and making the decisions that I had to make to grow Sparkle Cleaning and keep that growing, really instilled something in me and helped me grow as a person. So I wrote a book about my experience and it’s called From the Pits to the Palace. It’s not really a rags to riches story, it is more personal growth.

Carrie Johnson grew up in Natick and Framingham. Her father worked in a hat factory and her mother cleaned houses. She married after graduating high school but moved to California after divorce. She went to college and became a public relations person for a community gangs program. In the interview she discusses her involvement with drugs, her sons, her job as a one of the first African-American reporters for the Metro West Daily News,  then being hired by the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, and her cleaning company.

Interview Date: 
Fri, 03/25/2011
Interview Focus: 
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Johnson

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