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.

Elena Viapiano

Owner, Baked bakery

I was a part of the baking and cooking program.  You do have a few select men who like doing that type of stuff and the restaurant industry, it is definitely completely divided.  I mean we do have a few women that work in the kitchen. The thing is it is now changing, which I think should be fine, but I am very headstrong, and you are not going to mess with me. I’ve always been that way.  My father raised me that way.  He’s like, “Have a tough skin, you’ll be fine, and fight for what you believe in.” So, I was never really bothered by anything so I can definitely tell you from what I’ve seen that it’s definitely not great, and it’s now changing because women are showing what they can do, and some of the time they can do really good stuff. Especially in the restaurant industry, it’s got more and more women business owners and restaurants and awesome bakeries coming up so props to them.

Elena Viapiano was born and raised in Holden, Massachusetts where she has lived all of her life until recently. After attending high school at Wachusett Regional High School, she graduated in 2013 and went on to pursue a college degree in Culinary Arts at New England Culinary Institute in Vermont. Inspired by her father’s restaurant, Elena wanted to join the restaurant industry with a business of her own, thus opening her bakery called “Baked Holden.” In this interview, Elena discusses her inspirations, her hardships and her future goals as a businesswoman in the restaurant industry.

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Mon, 10/01/2018
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Ellen More

Professor Emeritus and Founder and Head of the Office of Medical History and Archives of the University of Massachusetts Medical School

And in 2004 I became a visiting professor at UMass Medical School in the psychiatry department. And that was because they had at the time, I’m not sure if they still do, a division which was extremely interested in medical ethics and one of the things I had done at the Institute for Medical Humanities was to teach medical humanities and medical ethics as well as history of medicine so it was a very good fit. And I was there as a visiting professor for a year and a half. I learned that although they didn’t have the medical history or medical humanities department, they had an expressed need to do two things. To create an archives; they didn’t have one. And this medical school started, well they opened in 1970. This was 2006, and they did not have an archive. And one reason they became aware of the need for an archives was that the first generation of founders were all retired, some had died. People were leaving, taking their papers with them, and the chancellor at that time, Aaron Lazar, he wanted a history of the school. So, they wanted someone to start to build an archives. They also wanted someone to write a history of the school. You can’t really do that without having an archives because what records will you use?  I negotiated with the head of the library and of the school and they created a position as head of the office of medical history and archives and in 2006 I started officially, and my faculty appointment simultaneously was professor in the department of psychiatry and I spent the next ten years launching an archives and writing a history of the medical school.

Dr. Ellen Singer More was born in Manhattan, New York, in 1946 and earned her advanced and medical degrees from University of Rochester, NY. She is Professor Emeritus and Founder and Head of the Office of Medical History and Archives of the University of Massachusetts Medical School.  In 2003 she received the Margaret W. Rossiter History of Women in Science Prize from the History of Science Society for Restoring the Balance: Women Physicians and the Profession of Medicine, 1850-1995.

Interview Date: 
Fri, 10/19/2018
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Caitlin Lubelczyk

Director of Communications and Alumnae Relations, Notre Dame Academy; 40 Under 40 Award from the Worcester Business Journal.

I leave work and I feel good and I can’t wait to go into work the next day. And I love being able to be a part of growing the school, and telling other people about the school, and telling people that they should send their daughters to this school because they’ll get a phenomenal education and they’re going to become strong, independent women. And really it’s a phenomenal place and I’m really happy to be back.

Caitlin Sargent Lubelczyk was born in Worcester in 1982, grew up on Chester Street in 1988, and attended Notre Dame Academy in 2000. Caitlin met her husband in 2008 and she has a daughter named Olivia who is almost eight. She and her husband moved to the Burncoat area and just recently she began working at Notre Dame Academy in 2016 as Director of Communications and Alumnae Relations. In 2016 she was awarded the 40 Under 40 Award from the Worcester Business Journal. Caitlin has made changes in her career that she is grateful for.

Interview Date: 
Wed, 10/03/2018
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Josephine Bylinski

Spacesuit Production Worker, David Clark; Clock Maker, General Electric

First, I worked—I used to make clocks for General Electric [when they acquired] Telechron.  And then after that, the company moved out, so then I collected [unemployment] for three months, and then I got a job at David Clark and I worked on spacesuits. I worked there 32 years. I made more money at Telechron than I did at David Clark ... because I was on piece work at Telechron, so I made good money, that was good money years ago.

Josephine Bylinski was born in Worcester, MA on January 10, 1930 and attended Saint Mary’s School and Commerce High School. Upon graduation, she worked for General Electric Company making clocks for 15 years, and then for David Clark making spacesuits for 32 years. She was always and still remains a very active member of Our Lady of Czestochowa Church.

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Thu, 09/08/2016
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Regina Wolanin

Teacher, Dental Assistant, Secretary

So, I saw in the newspaper, used to be the Girls Club--where it’s Girls, Inc. now, it was the Girls Club--they’re looking for a sewing teacher and a cooking teacher. I can do it! So, I applied for the job! I said, “I do sewing, I do cooking, and everything else.” So, they hired me. So, I was a sewing and cooking teacher. And, just looking through my papers, I’ll have to let you read it because I can’t say the whole thing. When looking through all my junk stuff and everything, I came across this little thing that I saved and in it, one of my former students, when she wrote this she was 17, and I almost cried reading what she had written about me.  But anyhow, so I worked there for, oh, 24 years.

Regina H. Wolanin was born on October 29, 1926 in Webster, MA. Her parents immigrated from Poland.  She grew up in the Vernon Hill section of Worcester, which was the “Polish” section and went to school at Saint Mary’s and then Commerce High. Regina started working upon her graduation from high school and never attended college. Her family was rather poor, but they had a rich family life.

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Fri, 09/09/2016
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Marie Felice

Registered Nurse; Member of Worcester Institute for Senior Education

I feel successful that I did something important with my life, that I've helped people.  Through the years I’ve saved cards that people have sent—from patients—and I thought, “Wow, this made an impact on other people.” I feel successful that I was a good nurse, not perfect, but I do feel that God gave me the strength to do it and the motivation and even coming to the [WISE] classes now. People say, “What are you going there for?” I said, “Just to get smart.” 

Born in 1948 in Clinton, Massachusetts, Marie Felice was the first born of a growing Italian family. She remained in Clinton until she went on to get her Licensed Practical Nurse certification from Quinsigamond Community College and her Registered Nurse degree from Anna Maria College and Worcester State University. Since then, Marie has worked as a nurse and case manager at local Catholic Worcester hospitals. In her interview, she details her life as a single mother focused on raising her son, helping patients, and always learning.

Interview Date: 
Tue, 10/01/2019
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Roberta Corn

Special Education Teacher; Counselor for Survivors of Domestic Abuse; WISE Member

I've always liked knowing people of different backgrounds and different cultures. I think that's a really important part of who we are as people, that we are much more connected and much more similar than we are different.

Roberta “Bobbi” Corn was born in 1945, in Belfast, Northern Ireland immigrating to the United States as an infant. Bobbi moved from state to state, she eventually settled in the Greater Worcester area over 20 years ago. Being of Jewish descent, she attended Hebrew school on Saturdays, while also attending Springfield High School during the week. After high school, she attended Penn State where she received a bachelor’s degree in English, and also met her husband.

Interview Date: 
Mon, 10/07/2019
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Sandra Congdon

Phone Company and Ecotarium Visitor Services; Community Volunteer; Member of WISE

I would say learn everything you can, and don’t put boxes around what you learn. Even though when I was working for the phone company I was learning how to talk to people, that fell over the edges of the box and led me to other things. And experiment, and explore. I go to Europe every spring, me and a bunch of my friends, and we love it so much and we get out and we went to Scotland, we ate haggis [makes disgusted look]. But I mean if I’m going some place I have never been before, then I’m going to do what is there, I’m going to eat some weird thing that I’ve never heard of before, or that I’ve heard of and thought “Oh that must be awful.” Just don’t shut yourself down, keep yourself open to all new experiences, and learn, learn, learn as much as you can.

Sandra Jean Whitehouse Desaulniers Congdon was born in 1945 in Storrs, Connecticut where she attended Ashford Elementary School, E.O. Smith High School, and the University of Connecticut. However, she withdrew from the university when she married her husband, had a daughter prematurely, and began a career at the local telephone company. She lived in numerous small towns around Massachusetts, but when the company relocated to Worcester, MA, she moved with them.

Interview Date: 
Mon, 10/14/2019
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Ann "Cookie" Nelson

Author; Designer; Co-founder, Worcester Children's Theater; Member of WISE

 Anger is never, ever productive, ever.

Ann “Cookie” Nelson was born in 1937 and grew up in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Ann was married in 1959 and later had two children, and now has three grandchildren. Through this period of her life, she balanced family life with a career in writing. She wrote many travel  articles, was a food critic, and ultimately was the author two children’s books. As an active member in the Worcester W.I.S.E. community, she organizes fundraisers. At a young age, Ann developed a passion for the arts which eventually led her to act in two television commercials.

Interview Date: 
Fri, 10/11/2019
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Carolyn Milewski

Accountant, Member of WISE

When I was 21 and making money, I went to…Filene’s to open up a charge account…When I went to the office and asked for an application, I had to take it home and have my father co-sign because he was male head of household. I didn’t have a husband. If you had a husband, your husband would have co-signed…I got the credit card. My father never had a problem with me paying the bill. I’m an accountant.

Carolyn D. Milewski, a Worcester native, was born in 1948.  As a Polish-American, she grew up in the Vernon Hill area with those of the same ethnic background. Carolyn attended St. Mary’s High School and later continued her education in the field of accounting by earning an associate’s degree at Becker Junior College and a bachelor’s degree at Nichols College. Carolyn says that she felt she was given an opportunity most women don’t receive when her male employer paid for her college education. Carolyn also had to overcome obstacles when compared to men.

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Fri, 10/11/2019
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