Originally from Miami Beach, Esther Kessler has spent her entire life living, working and giving back to the the greater Miami area. As a Miami-area native, it’s been interesting for her to watch her hometown expand through the decades.
“Growing up Miami Beach was very small,” Kessler said. “We didn’t even lock the doors -- we were all neighbors.”
Esther graduated from Miami Beach High School in 1949, and went on to enroll at the University of Florida. But two years in she put her degree on hold to marry her sweetheart, Alan, and start a family. Together they lived in Coral Gables, and raised three children: two girls and a boy. But once the children became teenagers, she was determined to finish school.
“Originally I wanted to be a teacher,” she said. “But I soon realized that my calling was in social work. I’m a giver and I always loved being around older people.”
Changing People’s Lives
Once she had determined her career trajectory, Esther decided to finish her degree at Florida International University. “They had just opened the school, and had a School of Social Work, so I transferred there,” she said.
Esther went on to be a member of the first graduating class of FIU’s School of Social Work in 1972, and then continued her education at Biscayne College where she received her Master’s in Psychology. Her first job post-college was working in a low-income housing building in Miami Beach.
“I remember meeting a woman in her 90s who had lost her eyesight, and she would sleep in the hallway near the bathroom so she wouldn’t fall on her way there at night.” Recognizing that she was no longer able to take care of herself, Esther tried to locate someone in her family who would help move her to a nursing home. She tracked down her grandson who was living in another city and he was able to relocate her to be near him and his family. The next time Esther saw the woman, she was leaving the low-income building, arm and arm with her grandson.
“Moments like that were so fulfilling because I was really helping people,” she said. “Social work can help to change people’s lives.”
Right at Home in the Community
After working as a social worker for two decades in Miami, Esther moved to Boca Raton in 1999. Alan had passed away 10 years earlier, and Esther had remarried. Together she and her second husband, William, lived in a beautiful three bedroom home in Newport Bay, Boca Raton. But William too passed away and Esther found herself ready to move one last time. Now ready to be closer to family and her hometown, she found the ideal option for her: Vi at Aventura.
“I remember when I first visited Vi,” Kessler recalled, “I was eating dinner with the sales director, and I saw my cousin and a lady I went to highschool with in the dining room! It’s been like a reunion moving here.”
Now at the community for 10 months, Esther has found her niche. She enjoys playing Mahjong with friends, taking fitness classes, and shopping and watching movies across the street at Aventura Mall. “I’ve met such wonderful ladies here who have the same interests that I have.”
Esther likes to rotate who she eats dinner with so that she’s always making new friends. “You meet people so easily over meals.”
Family Time is Special at the Vi
She also loves being close to family; her son lives just down the road in North Miami Beach, and her grandchildren visit often.
“My grandkids are such a big part of my life and I’m so proud of them and their accomplishments,” she said. “To share my family with my friends is really special.”