Islanders Reflect on Jobs for Labor Day


We Can Work It Out!

To celebrate the Labor Day Holiday, The Island Sand Paper asked several people the same five questions about their jobs and careers: What was your first job & starting pay? What do you do now? What is the best part of your job? What drives you absolutely crazy? What do you want to be when you grow up? Here are their answers in their own words.


Rexann Hosafros

“My first job was as a switchboard operator for five car dealerships, and it was the old kind with the cords. I earned $2-an-hour and that was a wonderful amount because minimum wage was $1.60-an-hour so that was 40 cents more than others made and I was only 16 years old! I must be honest and say my real first job was pumping gas at our family service station, but that doesn’t count as l worked for my parents but I feel duty bound to recognize it!

“Now my “job” is volunteer work at Chapel By The Sea, and my favorite part is as a member of the “Sew & Sew” Club. We currently make nice little dresses to give to little girls who don’t have the means to have nice little dresses, and that gives me a lot of enjoyment, so there is nothing that drives me absolutely crazy.

“If I ever grow up, I still want to be a naturalist and work in parks; I actually wanted to do that in college, but had to take Chemistry so I became an English teacher instead!”


Michele Kalka, seen here with her son Anakin, has been a bartender at the Lani Kai since 2004. She hopes to own her own phtotography business someday. Photo submitted.

Michele Kalka

“When I was 15, I was a cashier in a small variety store, similar to a 5 & 10, where we sold cards, trinkets and toys, making $5-an-hour. I made good friendships and liked working there. I am currently a bartender at the Lani Kai Island Resort, where I began in 2004 following my college graduation. I did not like my major and wanted to be near the beach so a friend got me a job at the Kai.

“The best part is meeting people from all over the world, and since I love to travel, these conversations help me plan my adventures. I love hearing where people live and what makes their hometown unique. My job is pretty stress-free, so there isn’t much that drives me crazy, except I would say late nights. Now that I have a child who is school age, getting home at 3 a.m. and waking up at 7:30 to get him to school is exhausting, and I miss him in the evenings when I work.

“When I grow up (LOL), I will own my own photography business, as I love taking pictures. I try different types – nature, children, families – and I like it all, so in the next few years that is where I see my life heading.”


Amber Kelly was working at Bella’s Mozzarella in Times Square when we asked her about jobs she’s had. Photo by Gary Mooney.

Amber Kelly

“Denny’s hired me as a waitress, on my very first interview, at $9-an-hour! You don’t know anything when you walk in, and they hired me right then, and it is such a new thing, as I never did anything like that before. I have been with Bella’s Mozzarella Pizza & Grill for five years now, starting out as a counterperson before moving up to waitress.

“My favorite part is meeting people who travel from all across the Earth to come to little Fort Myers Beach! I’ve lived here my whole life, so that just blows me away; that this little island attracts so many from so many interesting places! Customers treat me well, so what most drives me crazy is the slow season – you sometimes go stir crazy after never stopping for months, as August and September roll around and you pump the brakes and don’t know what to do with yourself.

“When I grow up, I am torn between education and the medical field. I already have some classwork in Medical Billing & Codes, but I have a three-year-old daughter so pre-school teaching appeals to me as well, so I am somewhere in the middle, still finding my way.”


Beverley Milligan began her working life in retail and is now a broadcast consultant and owner of Myerside Resort. Photo by Gary Mooney.

Beverley Milligan

“I worked in a retail clothing store for a wondrous $2.10-an-hour. That lasted about three months and I realized I would never work in retail again! Today I am a broadcast consultant for Media Access Canada for people with disabilities; chairperson of Pavo Digital Inc.; executive director of the Estero Island Taxpayers Association; director of Ways & Means for the Fort Myers Beach Woman’s Club and own The Myerside Resort.

“Myerside is my love and passion! When we took that property, it was a bad area right across from the elementary school, and we returned it into a beautiful bohemian beach resort, and did it all ourselves, right down to the landscaping. Myerside is my “something” to make life on this island better, and I want to do more for this community, and this my focus. Conversely, I am not a day-to-day operations person, but more of a Big Picture advocate, so that is the toughest part.

“Assuming I want to grow up, I want to be happy and healthy, living in a Town with a vision of all we want it to be.”


Dennis Strong
Dennis Strong chats about his first job as a dishwasher/grass cutter while enjoying Times Square. Photo by Gary Mooney

Dennis Strong

“My first job was at Sabastian’s Restaurant in Northwest Ohio, where I was a combination grass-cutter and dishwasher, so I washed my hands a lot! I was around 11 years old and made 50 cents-an-hour, and thought I was standing in tall cotton, that seemed like so much, so I was happy to have that job. Plus the cooks liked me, so the delicious food was free! For the past 40 years, I have been an independent trial lawyer, having never worked for a firm during my career.

“Because I am an independent, I was and am able to take time when I want to, so over the years I was very often the only father who could attend my kids’ sporting events or swim meets or school programs, as I had that freedom; I even accompanied the soccer team as the only Dad on a two-week tournament to California. The worst part is the vitriol and the lack of rational thinking you see in many clients, as a lot of people just won’t be reasonable. Rather than working to meet halfway to find an equitable solution, it is either all or nothing, as they just can’t or won’t see the other side of the argument.

“When I grow up, I would love to be the singer and guitarist in a local band, as I love being in front of people; as a trial lawyer, you are really at your core a performer!”


Gary Mooney