← Back to Blog

The Little Things – “It all started September 7, 1994…”

Featuring Karen Gabriel

Patrick, Karen, and Luke attending the ice castles event.

Karen Gabriel was a 17-year-old high schooler who got on and off the school bus at the corner of Bokum and Plains Road; she had witnessed the construction of Essex Meadows. Karen learned through a friend that Essex Meadows was hiring servers. Her friend applied and did not get the job, so Karen decided to take a shot at applying and was hired for the server position.
Prior to taking the part-time server position at Essex Meadows, Karen had only worked at one other place, the Griswold Tavern where she bussed tables a few times a week.
To say that Karen has grown up at Essex Meadows is an understatement. She is in her 28th year of employment and currently holds the position of Assistant Dining Room Manager. Karen has been doubling down on her duties in the absence of the Dining Room Manager who is out on medical leave.
When Karen was asked, “What keeps you working here?” her response was, “The residents and my fellow co-workers.” Karen says she loves to stay busy, and there is always something to do, or that needs to be done. Whether assisting in the dining room or setting up for and working events, she never stops moving.
Is Karen dedicated to the residents of Essex Meadows? Kathleen Dess remembers when Karen’s son Andrew was just a little guy and both Karen & Andrew would take residence overnight in the Executive Director’s office on a blowup air mattress during inclement weather events. Karen wanted to be sure that the residents would be fed, and personnel was here to serve the food. Andrew is now 26 years old and lives out west.
When not at Essex Meadows, Karen loves to garden and plant around her home. Most recently, she took a ski trip to New Hampshire with her son Luke (age 8) and boyfriend Patrick. This was the first time she has skied in over 30 years. Karen said she stuck to the bunny hill, but that Luke tore it up on the slopes. How wonderful to be young with no fear.
Karen lives local to Essex Meadows and cannot imagine working anywhere else. Do we have another 29 years with Karen at our service? Hmmm… Maybe!

“With the staffing challenges we have faced over the last couple of years, Karen has really stepped up her game and been with us through thick and thin. She is as reliable and hard-working as they come.” – Erika Mulé, Assistant Food & Beverage Director