Summer Issue #52 July-Sept. 2021

A Mentor for Life

When Esther Bryant was raising her daughters, she told them they could do anything they put their minds to. Now a great-grandmother, she’s taking her own advice.

“My mind’s always going, thinking about things I want to do,” said Esther, a client at St. Ann Center’s Bucyrus Campus. “The Bible says, ‘Work the works of Him who sent you, while it is day.’ You’ve got to do all you can, when you can.”

Staying busy has been a way of life for Esther. A cosmetologist, she owned a salon until age 75. After her children were grown, she became a foster parent, raising kids of all ages for 20 years. “They turned out pretty good, too,” she said, smiling. Many still keep in touch, sending her letters and wedding invitations.

Her concern for children motivated Esther to start her own nonprofit, Lighthouse Visions, aimed at empowering foster children with life skills that build respect for themselves and others. “There’s nothing better than helping young people understand they can be whoever they want to be,” she added.

Esther’s daughter Milwaukee Municipal Court Judge Valarie Hill recalls leaving voicemail messages for her on-the-go mom: “It’s ten o’clock…do you know where my mother is?” But then, in March of 2016, Esther suffered a stroke, severely affecting movement and sensation on the left side of her body. Two years ago, Esther moved in with her daughter and, soon after, enrolled in St. Ann Center’s adult day care.

Her many talents aren’t going to waste. Esther recently began directing the Bucyrus Campus adult choir. “I played piano and organ in my church for 60 years, so this is fun for me,” she said. She’s also using her experience teaching in a beauty and modeling school. “I would love to do a fashion show here,” she said, imagining her models. “Older people, little kids, people in wheelchairs. We all need to remember we’re beautiful.”

You give Esther a place to keep doing what she loves.

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