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Area woman looks for fresh start thanks to Sen. Mikulski

December 22, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

Widowed a year and looking for work, Julianna Albowicz was attending her eldest daughter's wedding when she noticed an advertisement in the local newspapers that U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., was looking for someone to staff her Western Maryland office in Hagerstown.

"When I got home, I had messages from five friends about this job they thought would be just perfect for me," Albowicz said.

As it turned out, her friends were right.

After her first interview in the regional office at 90 W. Washington St., Albowicz was called to Baltimore to talk with Mikulski the day before Thanksgiving.

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"She asked a lot of questions," Albowicz said. "Later that very day, I was offered the job - I was sworn in Dec. 8."

After hearing that about 50 people applied for the job, Albowicz said she was overwhelmed.

"Barbara has given me a second chance."

Currently the vice mayor of Clear Spring, Albowicz, 57, co-owned Hoff Liquors with her husband, the late William Albowicz, until his unexpected death in the fall of 2002. They worked together at the business for 38 years while raising their four children.

Determined to stay in or near Clear Spring, Albowicz continued to live upstairs over the business while looking for work and a new place to live - both daunting tasks that might have discouraged some.

Instead, with strong support and encouragement from her children and friends, Albowicz went on the offensive by enrolling at the Western Maryland Consortium to upgrade her computer skills.

Through the consortium, Albowicz was assisted in compiling a rsum and gained computer skills. Last week, she journeyed to Washington, D.C., for additional training on the specific type of computer used in the senator's office.

Albowicz's last job before the liquor store was as a purchasing agent at the National Naval Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Her husband was in the U.S. Navy when they were married and they spent their first 18 months in Iceland, where he was stationed.

As she looks back over the past few weeks, Albowicz said she is amazed at how things have turned out for her.

"I applied at a lot of places, but I remember saying how much I would love to work for a politician," she said.

Meeting and helping people always have been Albowicz's strong suits. Based on her understanding of what her work for Mikulski will entail, she will be doing a lot of both.

"This office is described as the senator's Western Maryland projects outreach office, serving all the counties from Carroll to the west," Albowicz said.

She knows she will be attending meetings for the senator, but her specific duties and exact office hours still are in flux.

Albowicz said she met Mikulski in the mid-1990s.

"I discovered that as the mother of four children, I was very impressed with her values," Albowicz said.

At the meeting, Albowicz said she remembers Mikulski wondering that if every person accused of a crime can be provided with an attorney, why there aren't enough doctors for all children.

People issues were then and continue to be Mikulski's strength and that's what drew Albowicz to her new challenge.

"She is for the working people and I idolize her for that," Albowicz said. "I get to be her eyes and ears in Western Maryland."

The office telephone number is 301-797-2826.

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