by Megan McGibney
Sheepshead Bay resident Albert Dashevsky is fighting a battle. He struggles to overcome grief, loss and tragedy suddenly hoisted upon him four years ago by spreading goodwill and easing others’ burdens. He offers free handiwork services to single moms in Brooklyn and Staten Island as a way of honoring his father, Sam Levin, who was violently ripped away from his family in 2011.
“Both of my parents were truly hardworking,” Dashevsky says. “My sisters and I grew up in a household with a lot of love but we kind of learned to be independent, and we’re each very successful in our own ways.”
It was the love for his father that inspired Dashevsky to give back to others. Although not his biological father, Dashevsky saw Levin as his true father, and admired how he was always helping others. Levin owned businesses in Baltimore and Boston, and was seen as the “go-to” for anyone needing business advice.
Unfortunately, it was a business-related issue that turned deadly for Levin in 2011 when a former associate broke into Levin’s house on Staten Island. Levin was killed, while Dashevsky’s mother, Marina, survived gunshot wounds. Police shot and killed the associate, who had hidden in a bedroom closet after his gun jammed during attempts to kill a neighbor and himself.
Although it has been more than four years since the murder of his father, Dashevsky lives with it every day.
“It’s very hard, it something you see in movies,” he says. “You have to find something that keeps your mind off of it and make it a routine.” For him, it was going to the gym on an almost daily basis to ease his grief.
But one way he has been honoring his father’s memory is by being the same “go-to” guy Levin was. Ever since he was young, Dashevsky has had an innate need to fix things. He would go over to friends’ houses and fix whatever needed fixing. He began working in his early teens, and as an adult, worked for a major electrical company.
But it was sharing dinner with his philanthropist uncle, Alexander Levin, that made Dashevsky want to use his talents to help others, free of charge.
“He told me, ‘Listen, when you have a good paying job, you have to give away a big percentage of it to people.’”
Levin’s words stuck with him.
“I thought, he probably is right because he’s very fortunate to have the money that he has, he can help people with his money,” Dashevsky explains. “I don’t have that money, but I do have another skill.”
Inspired by the words of wisdom from his uncle and his father’s own generosity, Dashevsky began offering his handyman services for free. He often helps single mothers since he’s aware of how they struggle to take care of their families by themselves.
Word slowly got around about Dashevsky’s free yet pleasing work. Eventually, a few postings on a couple of Facebook groups led to rapid word of mouth for Dashevsky. He is licensed in security cameras, home theater, alarm systems and home renovation. He also does carpentry and other tasks, though he stays clear of plumbing.
“I’d rather stick to what I enjoy and do it with a smile on my face,” he explains. “Rather than kick and curse, and break out into a sweat.”
Dashevsky has also inspired others, such as local painters, to give their skills for free.
There have been some negative experiences for him. There have also been accusations from some who suspect Dashevsky’s services are a scam. While he didn’t engage with the accusers, it has given him some perspective.
“People are not used to acts of kindness anymore,” he said, followed by a sigh. “Everyone wants to make a penny. Everyone wants to rip somebody off. I think it is sad when someone says, ‘Oh, it’s too good to be true.’” I’d rather be sad than mad about it.”
While he does not give a specific number of people he helps per week, he gives his services for as much as he can allocate. He hopes to continue doing handiwork for those in need, even as he finds other ways to help people. Dashevsky is looking to join the NYPD as a way of thanking them for saving his mother’s life. He hopes to join the academy next January.
“Everyone is really proud,” he said of his family. “I don’t speak about it much. I’m more of humble person, and I keep it mostly to myself.”
When asked what his father would say about his charity, Dashevsky looks wistful. “Hopefully he’ll just smile.”
“A lot of people say you get through it,” he said of his father’s murder. “I live with it every day, and I dream of my dad a lot. Maybe I’ll come to terms with it one day.”
“Every time I help someone,” he says of his father, “I think about him.”
If you’re a single mom in need of handyman services, contact Dashevsky at firstname.lastname@example.org.