Todd Kirschner was tired of the long commutes to his job that could stretch up to two hours each way.
He enjoyed the work, but after putting in eight or nine hours as a painter at high-end residential developments throughout Sarasota and Manatee counties, he’d often face an exhausting drive through heavy traffic back to the room he rented for $675 a month in a Venice home.
“I loved the people, I just couldn’t do the travel,” said Kirschner, 57.
This summer he decided to strike out for a different job. But one week quickly turned into another and then another as new employment prospects failed to pan out.
Kirschner’s savings already had taken a hit the previous year as pandemic-related closures forced work stoppages at his painting job. He got himself through that time by picking up hours as a dishwasher and line cook at a local diner for several months.
Now into the fall, Kirschner watched his savings completely dwindle as he scrambled for a new job. His landlord let him tap into the money he’d put down as first and last month’s rent. Once that disappeared, he fell behind even further.
“Bills don’t stop coming in because you’re out of work,” he said.
Finally, he saw a help-wanted sign at a Goodwill Manasota center. Kirschner inquired and eventually was hired for a spot in the agency’s Bargain Barn in North Port. But it would be a number of days before he could start, and he’d have to go through orientation.
“Please, I’ll work right now,” Kirschner remembers desperately telling Goodwill employees. “I need to make rent.”