Esther, A Lifelong Learner, Makes the Most of Her Time at Selfhelp - The Selfhelp Home

Esther, A Lifelong Learner, Makes the Most of Her Time at Selfhelp

Resident Esther, A Lifelong Learner, Makes the Most of Her Time at Selfhelp

Relocating from the Big Apple to the Windy City

Selfhelp resident Esther K. was born and raised in New York City. Esther’s family tree is certainly plentiful! “I have seven grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, and I’m expecting another grandchild!” Keeping up with everyone can be a challenge, but Esther enjoys staying in touch over FaceTime on her iPad.

Esther served as a fourth grade teacher for over 25 years while her husband, Joseph, maintained a career as a psychologist.

In 2016, household chores like cooking and cleaning became too much for her and Joseph to manage. Once they could no longer take care of their home and Joseph’s health began to deteriorate, they knew it was time for them to find a place that could take care of them in their golden years. Esther and Joseph decided to relocate from their lifelong home in New York City to Chicago where one of their daughters lives. That’s when the couple found the place they’ll call home for their remaining years, The Selfhelp Home.

Selfhelp is in the Family!

Esther’s family was already very familiar with Selfhelp because her son-in-law Danny’s beloved parents, Marianne and Enrique Wallenberg, both lived at The Selfhelp Home in 2002 for several years. As a matter of fact, you can find Enrique’s original artwork displayed on the wall just behind the Gerald E. Franks Center for Culture and Community, formerly known as our Social Hall.

“It was important to us to find a community with Jewish culture and activities,” Esther shared. The couple made a new home together at Selfhelp for six years, until Joseph passed away in 2022. Now Esther lives in the apartment on her own, but she maintains a positive attitude and continues to stay active. She says, “It’s the last part of your life, but it’s a good part of your life.”

Making Love Last: Stories From Our Residents - The Selfhelp Home

Esther and Joseph sitting together for an interview about their love story (2019).

Never a Dull Moment

Esther’s time at The Selfhelp Home has been excellent. Here’s what she had to say about her experience the past few years:

“It’s wonderful! This is a wonderful place for this stage of life. They think of everything. They have great activities. When you come here you can truly be part of a community and that is so important.”

Esther keeps herself active by learning new things every day. She participates in many activities around the home, both virtual and in-person. She especially enjoys the Sunday concerts, TED Talks, Israeli News, Jewish Studies, and the fascinating virtual tours. She reminisces about a recent outing she enjoyed, “They took us to see the Chicago Symphony. We had our own section. It was just marvelous!”

Esther’s Road to Recovery at Selfhelp

Over a year ago, Esther fractured her hip in a fall and lost mobility. She wasn’t able to do necessary tasks like showering or using the washroom without assistance, but the staff at Selfhelp was by her side every step of the way during her recovery.

Through diligent, daily physical therapy at Selfhelp’s Health and Rehabilitation Center, she was able to make a full recovery. Now a year later, she is back to being fully self-sufficient and can use her walker to get anywhere she pleases at Selfhelp!

Esther specifically wanted to show her appreciation for Selfhelp staff member Rey Gonzalez, Assistant Activity Director, for his hospitality and kindness. “He’s fantastic. Every problem I’ve had, he’s been here to help me. He’s been great!”

Esther tries to attend as many activities as she can, maintaining an open mind to try new things to satisfy her lifelong hunger for learning. Rey taught Esther how to use her iPad and get on Zoom to connect with her family. She especially likes attending Zoom lectures.

She says:

They offer all these activities, they have something for everyone. It’s like a kibbutz. You can be busy from morning until night if you choose!”
Esther, A Lifelong Learner, Makes the Most of Her Time at Selfhelp - The Selfhelp Home

Esther and Rey Gonzalez, our Assistant Activity Director (2022).

A Lifelong Learner

Esther is an avid reader and is eager to continue learning. Esther’s love for reading and keeping up with current events allows her to maintain meaningful connections with her grandchildren, as she sends them books in the mail and they discuss it together. Determined to engage in more than small-talk, she jokes, “I have to keep up with the times, because I would like to say more to my family than ‘How are you’ and ‘How’s the weather?’”

Esther started learning about philosophy so she could have thoughtful discussions with one of her grandsons about what he’s learning at college. They frequently have discussions on Plato, Socrates, and other classical philosophers. Her favorite spot to read every afternoon is on the rooftop garden because of the beautiful view and the peacefulness. It’s there that Esther enjoys planting tomatoes and taking peaceful naps when the weather is perfect. Esther just turned 96 years old and still has the passion to learn.

“How can you not say it’s good here? I’m spoiled! They keep the place very clean for you, and they even make your bed. They cook all my meals and the food here is delicious! They’re here to help you with anything you need. You can count on everyone here.”

Interested in learning more about The Selfhelp Home?

We’d love to speak with you! Please fill out the form below:
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.