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.

Linda Raffaelle-Moyen

Nutrition, Health, and Education Professional

I majored in education, specifically Family and Consumer Science Education. And I graduated in 1979. I graduated magna cum laude. I always tried to excel and be perfect at everything. I thought that would give me that “over the rainbow life,” [laughs] but of course now I realize that was not the case.  So that was my major which was interesting because you know my parents weren’t that keen on the whole thing. So in my dad’s mind I think he thought, “Oh she’s going to school to learn how to be a housewife anyways.” [laughs] But it was funny. I used to drive this old car that would break down all the time and one of those days he had to come almost all the way out to Framingham to get the car.  He stops to get lunch and the guy at the coffee shop—you know my dad was friendly and talked to people and so he was talking about what he was doing out there, going to get my car at school.  And the guy asked what I was studying and he told him kind of, and this guy went on to tell him that, “You have no idea. Do you realize the classes she has to take?” And he started telling him, she’s got to take organic chemistry and she has to take all these psychology classes and started to tell him what I was really up to.  Not learning how to cook and sew or whatever.  And it was funny because after that I could see that he had a new perspective. He actually understood more and kind of took some pride in the fact that I was working and putting myself through college and doing well and all of that.

Linda Raffaele-Moyen was born in Leominster, Massachusetts, in 1957. She attended Leominster High School and went on to study at Framingham State, married her high school sweetheart, and had three children. She later divorced and never remarried. Although her education led her to become a teacher, she ended up opening her own business in order to better support her family.

Interview Date: 
Sun, 02/19/2017
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Kellee Kosiorek

Program Coordinator, Seven Hills Global Outreach & the International Center of Worcester

I’ve been there since June.  So it’s still less than a year and [I’m] learning a lot, but now I work for Seven Hills Global Outreach which does development projects in eight different countries including Bangladesh, Haiti, Jamaica, Syria, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia and .. Guatemala. Then I also work for the International Center of Worcester which is kind of the inbound programs, and so what we do is mostly work with the State Department and mostly bring visitors here to the U.S to do professional development training so [laughs] I’m kind of all over the place.

Kellee Kosiorek was born in 1992, in Lebanon, New Hampshire.  She moved to Worcester to attend Clark University, where she double majored in cultural psychology and international business and then earned a master’s degree in non-profit management.  Although she had primarily been exposed to her conservative, white family and neighbors growing up, attending Clark opened her eyes to a variety of different cultural backgrounds.  Since then she has fallen in love with exploring other cultures.  Her dream is to join the Peace Corps, but for now she works for the Seven Hills F

Interview Date: 
Fri, 02/24/2017
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Isabelle Jenkins

Associate Director of Community Based Learning, College of the Holy Cross

I would say the people are what makes Worcester so distinct. I think it’s a city filled with people who are really passionate about bridging difference. I spend a lot of time working with organizations that work with refugees and immigrants and that’s where I see Worcester shine the most. I think it is such a welcoming city in that sense and I think people are really great about opening their arms and minds to that. I feel like anybody who I know who’s lived in Worcester and has lived here for a long time, I just have never really seen in other places people have that much love for a place. Just really, there’s some sort of intimate connection people have with the physical you know place of Worcester that I think is really, really wonderful and inspiring and makes me want to engage with the city even more. And I’m just so lucky because I get to see so many different sides of the city with my job. You know I work with 35 community partners, I work a lot with Worcester public schools and a lot with like I was saying refugees and immigrants. I just see a lot of people who are really passionate about seeing this city—not only seeing this city becoming great, but believe that it’s already wonderful and great and, because it is. I mean it doesn’t necessarily look like, it’s not gentrified, it’s not it doesn’t look like downtown Boston, but I there’s so many great things about it already that it doesn’t need to be something different. I mean I do think all the influx of restaurants and the new construction’s great too, but I think, I just think it’s such a shining gem of a place and it’s wonderful to work with so many people who care very deeply about their neighbors. You know neighbors physically, but also just the people in their own community, so I think that’s what makes Worcester really special.

Isabelle Amy Jenkins was born in 1988. She grew up in both Gill, Massachusetts, and New Milford, Connecticut. Her childhood was slightly different from others, since her neighborhood was the boarding school where her mother worked. In her predominately white, middle class town, the boarding school brought diversity to New Milford. She attended the College of Holy Cross for her undergraduate degree and Harvard’s Divinity School for her graduate degree to become a chaplain.

Interview Date: 
Fri, 02/17/2017
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Lauren Grover

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Clinician

It means a lot.  I think it’s an opportunity for me to use my skills and my knowledge from my years of schooling, but I get to connect with people on an individual level on a daily basis, and really have the honor of [their] telling me their struggles, working through that with them, and giving them the skills to be their own therapist in the future so they don’t need to come back. It’s also really important to me to have work/life balance, because I do have two little kids, and the work I do gives me the ability to be home with them when I need to, and work when I want to.

Lauren Grover was born in1984, in Worcester, Massachusetts, and grew up in Holden, Massachusetts. At the time of the interview, she had been married for five years and had two children.  In 2003 she attended Assumption College to pursue a major in Psychology and a minor in Social Rehabilitation Services.  During her time at Assumption she volunteered at the Reach Out Center, which helped her to choose which career path she wanted to pursue.  Lauren also did internships during the summer, which allowed her to learn important lessons that she could apply to her career.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 03/02/2017
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Jennifer Wood

Owner of Amethyst Point Massage

I was working in retail and I hated it, and I wanted to do something else, but no one would hire me to do anything else because I had been doing retail for so long. And I realized I needed another skill and I had been interested in massage off and on for a while.  So I went to a massage school, and that’s all she wrote. My last day of school was my last day of my job I was done immediately.  It’s financially a struggle. It’s been a real—it’s been a big struggle over twelve and a half years. Luckily I don’t have any children otherwise I would not have been able to take the path that I took.  I made massage my full time job right out of the box even though—or out of the gate—I should say, even though I had no clients, no experience I just made myself available as many hours as possible and made it my full time job. But I had only myself to support. So when I hire people who are right out of school I make sure I explain to them what my path was. What I did. And if you cannot do it that way, if you have children, if you have things—if you need money, you need to have another job while you're building a practice. Don’t do what I did. It’s hard, it was very hard.

Jennifer Wood was born in 1973. Jennifer and her parents have both lived in Worcester their whole lives. Jennifer attended three different colleges, Franklin Pierce, Worcester State, and New Mexico University, but ultimately decided to pursue other interests. Currently, Jennifer owns her own massage business called Amethyst Point. In this interview, Jennifer reflects upon on how her massage business has been a financial struggle, but a recent move has made it easier. She speaks of how her staff is like a family and has helped motivate her through tough times.

Interview Date: 
Mon, 10/24/2016
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Susan Wobst

Consultant, Nonprofit management; Managing Director of Vital Voices Global Partnership

Well, success for me would be, if I had a headstone, I would say, "She tried to do some good." And in terms of my devotion to nonprofits, it's the core of everything.  Its mission, why they exist, why they were founded.  If I like the mission I will really go gung ho for that,  So it's trying to do some good through the work as well.

Susan Wobst was born in Detroit, Michigan, and attended Hillsdale High School and the University of Michigan where she earned four degrees. She is bilingual and her fluency in Russian led to many jobs in government and nonprofit organizations.  She also taught Russian at the college level and participates in several community organizations.  In this interview, Susan discusses her family, her career, and the community of Worcester.

Interview Date: 
Wed, 10/05/2016
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Faye Smalley

99 years old; Owned neighborhood grocery store

I'll tell you before the war [World War II], women took whatever jobs they could get, whether it was factory or whatever. But a lot of the girls joined the Worcester Women's Army Corps.  When they came back, they had a little more push, and they were able to get better paying jobs, because the pay years ago wasn't what it is today. Today they’re fighting for a $15 minimum wage [laughs]. I worked for a year in a bake shop, and I earned $12 a week. For a 60-hour week. So it came to about 25 cents an hour. And then I advanced, I did bookkeeping and cashiering in a men's and boy's wear. And I advanced to $16 [laughs]. And by the time I finished, when I got married I had to go in with my husband, it was 1951.  My highest salary was $30 a week. Today you work two hours for $30.

Faye “Fannie” Kravitz Smalley was born on January 17th, 1917 and has lived in Worcester her entire life.  She lived through a time where men were the ones with the jobs and women were the ones who took care of the household, but she was different than most women her age and seemed to do both of these things.  She worked for her family business at a neighborhood marketplace and she took care of both her parents as well as her husband as they faced serious illnesses.

Interview Date: 
Sun, 10/02/2016
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Kate Rafey

Director of Development, Music Worcester

Just do a lot of yoga. I do not know how much you guys know about yoga or even if you have ever done it before, but it is not just a physical practice.  There is a meditation aspect to it.  Even though I was raised Jewish I identify heavily.  It’s the spirituality of meditation and Buddhist mindfulness practice, just because it answers something that no religion has ever answered for me before, which is just to connect with yourself a little bit and not necessarily to care about—just doing good deeds for the world and not putting it in—I guess for me it was always you need to go synagogue, you need to do these things, you need to, and not putting those needs as just something you should work on for yourself.  So being more gentle with yourself. So if I go home tonight and I do not do all my dishes I will not beat myself up and think I am a horrible person because I did not do all of my dishes. I will just try and do better tomorrow.

Kate Rafey was born in 1986, in Swampscott, Massachusetts.  Moving to the city of Worcester around 2004, Kate, then eighteen years old, would go on to attend Clark University, where she would focus her studies on English and Theatre Art until her graduation in 2009.

Interview Date: 
Wed, 10/05/2016
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Marissa Pyatt

Director of Supportive Services, Abby’s House

I think people don't understand their privilege, and we as a group, not just Worcester, not just women, but as citizens, as humans, need to be able to understand our privilege and how it intersects with oppression. And so there are so many people—like at Abby's [House], we provide services for women that have all different needs, from substance abuse, to trauma, to rape, to eviction. But here we try to preserve that human dignity. In the community, I don't see that as much. You know, there are a couple of agencies that work hard to provide services, but I think that responsibility should be something that we all share, to make sure that the person next to us is honored as a person and their needs are met. Granted, I know that we can't just say, "Oh I'm going to keep somebody in my house and they're going to have shelter and I'm going to feed everybody and I'm going to clothe everybody," but that person is still somebody that needs to be respected and deserves to be respected. It's just a lot of disrespect. It's a hard time now. It's a hard time to live in. Especially for me being a woman of color, it's very hard. Every day I send my son to school and I'm like, “Oh well, what's going to happen?  Am I going to have to answer questions about why people are getting shot?” It's just a hard time to live in, and I think just a simple gesture of greeting somebody, sharing your privilege, would allow somebody to live more comfortably in an uncomfortable time.

Marissa Pyatt was born in Arlington, Virginia, in 1986. In 2016, Marissa found herself in Worcester for the first time, taking on the role as Director of Supportive Services at Abby’s House. Abby’s House is an emergency shelter for women, founded in 1976 at the beginning of the battered women’s movement.

Interview Date: 
Tue, 09/27/2016
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Laura Porter

Freelance Writer and Editor

I have a lot to say about women and education. I think there is such pushes to—I don’t even know how to put this. I think that my biggest challenge from kindergarten to defending my PhD thesis. Why don’t you talk more? Why don’t you smile more? Right, I think there’s such—it’s hard to crack past that. It’s hard to yell over the guy who’s saying nothing, but saying a lot of it and getting all the attention. I think that’s really tough. And I found that and some of it is personality and some of it is gender.  There’s plenty of women who are falling off their chairs answering questions, but I found that the professors I worked with, it wasn’t really male culture it was either patronizing or it was diminishing. I could not wait till when I came here. And Mark got his job and he was teaching, and I was finishing up, I couldn’t wait to get out of Princeton. Smith was fine [laughs]. Smith should have prepared me for the rest of it.

Laura Smith Porter was born in 1958 and raised in Illinois. After pursuing her undergraduate degree at Smith College, she continued her education at Princeton University. At Princeton, she met her husband Mark Richmond. After living in various areas, Mark was offered a job at Worcester Polytechnic Institute. In 1985, they settled down in Worcester, near Indian Lake. In this interview, Laura discusses the obstacles that she faced throughout her education and her career.  Growing up as an only child, the early deaths of her parents inspired her to become a writer.

Interview Date: 
Tue, 11/08/2016
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