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.

Germaine Lambergs

Registered Nurse; Lactation Specialists; Member of Worcester Institute for Senior Education

So, a little mini history on breastfeeding.  Well because it used to be the norm, way back like when your grandmother might have breastfed, or her mother may have breastfed, but then mothers were taught that formula was just as good as breast milk.  And why would you want to look like a cow to have a baby--I’m just giving you a shortened version--to have a baby sucking on you when you can go out and be yourself and have someone bottle feed the baby. It also came around during the wars when mothers had to leave the children with—they didn’t really have nannies back then, but you know the nanas, and they went to work in the factories. Who’s going to feed their babies? So, Enfamil, Nestle, all of those, the pediatricians started to fuel that this is just as good. They were never trained. One of my positions at MGH [Mass General Hospital] was teaching residents how to breastfeed because it wasn’t taught in nursing or medical school. It is now, they have a two-second course, but the younger physicians now are very aware of the importance and value of a mother’s milk. To me it is a miracle fluid. I used to tell mums, “You look at that formula and it’s the same, the same, the same. It comes from a cow.  The animals feed their babies and a mother feeds her baby cow’s milk? She should be feeding her milk that’s natural.  And they would ask mothers, “Do you want to breastfeed or do you want to bottle feed?” And the pediatricians would say, “Don’t breastfeed, it takes too much time. Oh my God, just bottle feed.” So, it took me some time, to be honest with you, it took me quite a bit of time to re-educate in a gentle way because you don’t want to embarrass anyone if that’s their belief that breast milk and formula are the same. To understand the value of a mother’s milk. My youngest granddaughter is being breastfed and I just love it. Oh, she's just growing and when you understand what it does to a newborn baby, right when it's born for God sakes, it protects the kid’s gut. And it enables that baby to be bonded with the mother because having the baby in the nursery is what we used to do. They took the baby right away put it in the nursery and the mother couldn’t see the baby. Now when the baby is born, it comes out of the vagina and they put it right on the mother’s chest, naked, which is where it should be. And the mother’s breath initiates the baby to breath, the mother’s body, the antibodies she produces in that breast milk specifically for that gestational age for the baby, because it changes.

Germaine Miller Lambergs is a Canadian woman born in 1945. Germaine moved to the United States at a young age where she attended school in the Boston area now known as Newbury Street. It was here Germaine met her husband, with whom she has been with since she was a teenager. Together, they now share seven grandchildren and three children, all who live in the Northeast.  Germaine attended nursing school and worked in the nursing profession for many years.

Interview Date: 
Wed, 10/09/2019
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Fran Lubin

Director of Volunteers, CASA; School Counselor, Worcester Public Schools; Member, Worcester Institute for Senior Education

So my first job after college, there was a new program that started here that dealt with courts and it was called Court Appointed Special Advocates [CASA] and we were guardians, they call them guardians by law actually, for children in the foster care system who had been abused.  And they really are neglected and they hadn’t really had anybody to speak for them. I was the Director of Volunteers, all were volunteer except for the two paid people, me and the director and we trained them to be advocates, they had to undergo extensive training and then interviews with the kids and everybody involved in the case, write a report, go to court, and it’s still in existence.  It’s a national program, and we started the one in Worcester in 1980 actually, and I was there nine years. That was my first experience, and I did enjoy it, I loved the people. They gave themselves, in a very stressful situation with kids and the courts, very frustrating, but I did love it.

Frances Joan Lubin was born in 1938 in Portland, Maine, where she attended both primary and high school. She then went on to Simmons College to pursue her undergraduate degree in psychology. Fran was married in 1959. She then moved to Worcester, where she would eventually pursue a master’s degree in school counseling at Assumption College and become a social worker.

Interview Date: 
Wed, 10/16/2019
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Gabriele Goszcz

Optometrist; Psychiatric Social Worker

Don’t give up who you are to try to please somebody else.

Born in 1947 in Germany, Gabriele Goszcz immigrated to Plainville, Connecticut, with her family when she was six years old and moved to the Worcester area as a grown woman after marriage. She earned her bachelor’s degree and Master’s in Social Work from Smith College, which prepared her for a career as a psychiatric social worker and later, an optometrist. Gabriele expresses her love of helping people as an optometrist. She is on the Board of Trustees of the Worcester Art Museum, and volunteers at Art Reach.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 10/03/2019
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Martha Grace

Chief Justice of the Juvenile Court of the State of Massachusetts; Member of Worcester Institute for Senior Education

I mean, the best thing about becoming a judge, especially a juvenile judge, was I always had, and I still have, a sense of having made a contribution to society and making a difference in people's lives. That was the most—I mean it was impossibly hard. The stories that I heard about children being abused, being sexually abused, being physically abused, seeing kids in front of you having done horrendous things and looking into them and realizing they have no shot in life.  They didn’t understand right from wrong. Yeah, it was, it was a very powerful job. It was hard.

Martha Grace was born in 1940 and raised in Providence, RI attending primary, secondary, and eventually collegiate level schooling in Providence as well. Soon after graduation, she decided to move to Worcester, MA with her husband because of his profession at the time. Shortly after the move, she had two children and was looking forward to continuing her education. After having her first child, and being turned down once already because of their fear of her getting pregnant, she attended Clark University and studied history.

Interview Date: 
Fri, 09/27/2019
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Joan Forbes

Technical Writer, Musician, Member of Worcester Institute for Senior Education

[My advice is to] take very, very measured careful risks, put yourself out of your comfort zone…Just give it a shot and do not be afraid of failure.

Joan Gardella Forbes was born and raised in Worcester, MA. Throughout her childhood, Joan was surrounded by a very family-oriented culture. She was the first in her family to attend college. She went to Clark University where she received her bachelor’s degree. She then earned her master’s degree at Worcester State University. In the interview she shares that while has a degree in human services, she realized that this was not the field for her.   She is very proud to say that she is a woman who was never unemployed with her eventual career choice as a technical writer.

Interview Date: 
Tue, 10/01/2019
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Susan Tellier

Management Engineering Officer, U.S. Air Force; College Finance Officer, Member of WISE

And I have to say one thing about being in the military was, it taught me an appreciation for business because I had been an English and philosophy major. And I had no use for business. And then I could see the work that it took to keep something like the Air Force going. And they, at the time, really embraced good business practices. So, I came out with a greater appreciation for business, and I thought well I think I'm going to go to University of Chicago and get an MBA. I spent two and a half years doing public accounting…It was very interesting because one day I could be at a bank, and the next day a chocolate factory, and the next a stamping and forging factory--it was fascinating.

Susan Tellier was born in Kingman, Arizona, in 1949, and is the former Vice President of Administration at Nichols College. She grew up in Rochester, New York, and attended elementary and high school there. Susan was married during her junior year of college and moved to Massachusetts to attend UMass [University of Massachusetts]. She and her then-husband graduated from college, and both enlisted in the military, just as the Vietnam War was coming to an end.

Interview Date: 
Thu, 10/03/2019
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Janet Shainheit

Peace Corps Volunteer, Nigeria; Teacher;Librarian

Am I satisfied with my life? Yeah, yeah I am. I like the people I know. I write poetry and I’ve been able to do that successfully…I have been a teacher in the U.S. and in Nigeria with the Peace Corps, and I was a librarian, too. It’s been a pretty good life.

Janet Shainheit was born on July 4th, 1940, in Montague, Massachusetts. She attended high school in Turners Falls and graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English. Janet met her husband in college and moved with him to Worcester in 1974 where she began working as Worcester Academy’s librarian  Before moving to Worcester, she joined the Peace Corps in Nigeria, which she loved. She lived in Nigeria for two years teaching English in a school in a small town.

Interview Date: 
Tue, 10/01/2019
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Catherine Samko

Clinician and Administrator, state psychiatric hospitals for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health

I think success is being happy in your life and having a purpose to your life. Having good family relationships, that’s probably what I think success is. When I was younger, I probably thought it was more about career, money…I probably have not always made the best choices, but I think that anything that I have done has made me into who I am today.

Catherine Lacouture Samko was born in 1952 in Framingham, Massachusetts.  She grew up in Marlborough surrounded by family and then eventually made her home in Worcester, never moving outside of her home state.  She graduated from Stonehill College in 1974 and received her Master’s Degree in Psychology and Guidance at Assumption College in 1976.  She began work as a clinician at Westborough State Hospital right out of school. Her mother had also worked at Westborough State Hospital.

Interview Date: 
Wed, 10/09/2019
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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.

Interview Date: 
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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