After rent assistance, a woman from Venice hopes to start over

VENICE – Suzi Kotler-Neidorff always seemed to be successful. But she doesn’t call it coincidence or luck. She prefers to call it synchronicity. She is a firm believer in the idea that things happen for a meaningful reason.

Fresh out of dog grooming school at 23, she moved to Los Angeles on a whim. Years later, she returned to her New York State and raised her two children as a single mother while juggling three jobs. She also lived in Maryland as a caregiver and was fired long before the coronavirus became a part of everyday life.

So when Kotler-Neidorff, 66, said that she “just ended up” here on the west coast of Florida, it was by chance, and she figured things would fall into place like they had always seemed so in life.

It was in September 2019 when she stayed at an Airbnb with her only pet. After being fired from her caregiving job in Maryland, Kotler-Neidorff had $ 333 a week in Maryland unemployment benefits and her monthly Social Security $ 1,000 check to live on.

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“[We] just sort of ended up here, ”she said, along with her pet Chico, a chihuahua with challenges. “I was looking for my way, I saw where I fit in. “

Once again, things seemed to fall into place when Kotler-Neidorff found a roommate – the Jane Fonda to her Lily Tomlin. The two moved into an apartment in the south of Venice. That was almost exactly a year ago, at a time before the pandemic changed everything.

Kotler-Neidorff found a job in animal care. The pandemic struck and customers began to cancel. Soon she was out of work.

Kotler-Neidorff began volunteering at St. Francis Animal Rescue in Venice in July. There she heard someone come in to apply for a cashier job: Synchronicity.

Kotler-Neidorff asked the principal for the job and accepted it, even though it was 12 hours of work per week for $ 9 an hour. Work and Social Security provide about $ 1,600.

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Over time, Kotler-Neidorff quickly racked up thousands of dollars in debt on his credit cards, reaching their limits. Without credit cards, Kotler-Neidorff had little money to live on and didn’t know which bills to pay first.

“I know that until I clean it up and fix the problem, I won’t be able to pursue my other dreams.” It kind of keeps you very stuck and stagnant, ”Kotler-Neidorff said.

The little she earns from her part-time job could put her in a situation of loss of assistance to help pay for her Medicare benefits – a Catch-22, she said.

“So it’s kind of like you’re damned if you do it and if you don’t,” she said.

In November, Kotler-Neidorff began pulling together his documents to apply for Sarasota County CARES law funding. But as she parked in the parking lot of one of the local libraries to hand in her latest materials, she learned the program would shut down and no longer accept any requests for help.

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She missed the cut by a few minutes: “It was just disappointment and the feeling of what now? Now what am I doing? ”

When she moved to the area, Kotler-Neidorff signed up to volunteer with the Friendship Centers for the Elderly. More than a year later, the agency offered to help him.

Ola Medrzycki, Home Friendship Officer at Friendship Centers for the Elderly, said through the Season of Sharing, the owner of Kotler-Neidorff received about $ 1,200 to cover a month of delinquent rent in December and a water bill.

“She was trying to take whatever steps were necessary to help herself, month to month to pay her bills,” Medrzycki said.

Kotler-Neidorff is grateful for the month of relief Season of Sharing has given her. But for now, she’s still trying to figure out how things might fall into place from here.

“I have to remember that things always work for you. It’s not always how you envision it, ”Kotler-Neidorff said.

How to help

The Season of Sharing Fund was established in 2000 as a partnership between the Herald-Tribune and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. The goal is to raise emergency funds for individuals and families on the verge of homelessness in Sarasota, Manatee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties. Every dollar donated goes to people in need. There are no administrative costs and no paperwork. The funds can be used for rent assistance, utility bills, child care and other expenses needed to help families get back on their feet.

Donations to the Season of Sharing Fund can be made online at, or by sending a check (payable to the Sarasota County Community Foundation) to the attention of Attn. Season of Sharing, 2635 Fruitville Road, Sarasota, FL 34237. Contact the foundation at 941-955-3000 for more information or to request a credit card form. All donations are tax deductible.

Angie DiMichele covers the Sarasota County Community Foundation’s Season of Sharing campaign highlighting the stories of people in the community who are being helped prevent homelessness. DiMichele also covers nonprofits in the region and how they are responding to the impact of the coronavirus. She can be reached at [email protected]

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