By Selene Raj
A 65-year-old resident struggling to keep the rental she’s lived in for 16 years may have some relief thanks to a kind stranger.
Like countless others, Mindy Lieberman fell on hard times during the pandemic.
A Coral Springs resident since 1974, she desperately wants to stay in the city but never expected strangers would be helping her to do so.
Working since 14, she served decades as a medical secretary.
“I used to have three jobs,” she said, “I’ve always been a go-getter.”
She developed a painful digestive illness and suffered various medical troubles— pneumonia, hip replacement, and a related fracture, and her fiancé also suffered from congestive heart failure and COPD.
She did her best to take care of him, but when he suffered a fall and was hospitalized, she could not visit because of COVID-19.
After being induced into a coma, he passed away on August 13.
“I didn’t even get to say goodbye. That’s what hurts the most,” Lieberman said.
Amid this massive loss, she was forced to deal with the reality that she could no longer pay the bills they once split.
Lieberman never liked asking for help. But, once she began, she realized how hard it is for people who need assistance. She received only $19 a month in food stamps and was put on a five-year waiting list was for section 8 housing in Coral Springs.
“You can have everything one day and be devastated the next,” she said, “Instead of luxury apartments and restaurants, we need better hospitals and housing.”
Without support or the ability to return to her job, she had to accept help from others.
“I had help to pay, from the Jewish Community, hospice, and Family Success— they paid for four months of rent,” Lieberman said.
But while she was grieving, her landlord raised the rent by $200.
Lieberman was already struggling, but after 16 years, this was the final sign. In February, when funds run out, she must leave her Coral Ridge Drive apartment, costing$1,552 a month, according to her.
“I can only afford to pay $300 from what I get from Social Security, and I don’t know how far that’s going to get me,” she said.
Claudia “Sam” Gray, 57, heard about Lieberman’s story.
She manages a local Facebook group, Coral Springs Neighbors and Friends, and for her, Lieberman’s story had a thick layer of familiarity.
At 19, Gray experienced homelessness. The man she lived with locked her out and kept everything she owned. The police, she said, refused to get involved because it was what they called a domestic dispute.
During this time, Gray met a stranger who felt sympathy for her and gave her enough money to get back on her feet.
“I never forgot that kindness,” she said, “And because I couldn’t pay him back, I have always tried to pay it forward.”
She is now trying to pay it forward to Lieberman, whose loss she relates to, as Gray lost her husband in February 2020 after a long battle with cancer.
“I know what she went through because I did as well,” she said.
Gray set up a fundraiser on GoFundMe to help Lieberman raise funds to afford rent somewhere in Coral Springs for six months, with a goal amount of $15,000. So far, $943 has been raised.
The two met for the first time on Saturday, December 4, and got along right away— they both gushed over the meeting, each one thankful for the other.
“I believe that humans should be kind to one another and help others who may be less fortunate. It would be a better, more gentle world.”
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