Doorperson of the Month: Justine Kotlarz
by Jacqueline Covey
For 17 years, January Doorperson of the Month Justine Kotlarz has worked at 247 E. Chestnut St. greeting residents, tending to their needs and handing out cookies—to those with two and four feet.
About two months ago, Kotlarz lost her brother Nick Bolhak.
“My brother got me in his place to train,” Kotlarz said, her voice straining the way one’s does when holding back tears. “And then a spot here opened.”
When Kotlarz was 50 years old, she hadn’t planned on losing her job at a printing company—no one plans for their long-time career to abruptly stop. But her brother, who she had raised her since he was 15, was there to return the helping hand. He brought her into his building at 2626 Lakeview, his place of employment for about 20 years, and she fell into a new career.
“I hope I can stay here for a long time,” she said. “I don’t want to retire. I just love this job.”
Kotlarz comes to work in the early hours, from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. most days of the week.
In the middle of her interview, a resident came down to put in a last minute-request for overnight parking. Kotlarz was happy to oblige, apparent by the smile on her face throughout the task of filling out a time slot.
“The people here are so nice and friendly,” she said. “They let me decorate and put flowers out.”
One former board member at the complex, Kotlarz remembers fondly, would garden with her outside and plant owners on the sun deck. She looks back at her years in the garden as a time split between two homes.
This is generally her outlook when she thinks about her job, the residents and the people she works for. She is a giving person, trying to provide the best service to her tenants—and the job has given back.
A few years ago, Kotlarz was unable to work for a year due to a medical condition. Regina Gubic, her manager at the time and one still within Sudler Property Management, was immensely understanding of her hardship.
“She called me one day (while I was on leave),” she said, “and told me she was saving my job for me. “She’s just…,” Kotlarz tried to finish that sentence three times. Finally finishing with glassy eyes, “She’s just a treasure.”
To nominate your favorite doorperson, email info@ neweastsidecommunity.com with the doorperson’s name and why you think they should be the doorperson of the month. Each winner will receive a $25 gift card to Mariano’s.