"Mr. Fix It"- Andon Kostov

Andon

Andon
Chicago, IL

Andon was born in Macedonia but will say that he comes from Bulgaria, as the larger country is gradually incorporating the smaller, and taking control. He came to the US in 1995 and mostly kept busy with construction work -- until last winter.

Andon fell on hard times, he went for a long period without work and by springtime, he was out of money and got evicted from his apartment. His van including all his tools had been stolen and his girlfriend left him as well. He had next to nothing left.

It was easy enough to steal alcohol sometimes, so he did. For awhile it helped him deny the painful feelings bothering him. He says he is not compatible with alcohol, doesn’t even really like it, but used it to dull the pain, procrastinate and avoid making the positive changes in his life that were really needed. That, in turn, angered him further, driving him to drink even more and becoming an alcoholic.

He ended up homeless for 10 days, then finally located a shelter but found it demeaning, dangerous and uncomfortable. While living on the street he saw people getting shot, killed, blood splattered on walls. Another time he saw the police pulling a body from a pond.

After some time he applied and was accepted into a better transitional housing setting, which is cleaner and provides good meals.

Upon hearing about Above and Beyond, he came to visit and found it a place of acceptance, of diversity and professionalism. "A great place," he says. He likes the variety of classes, and that he is not forced to take any particular classes or attend certain groups. Although he feels that self-help is important, he highly

values the groups he attends. At Above and Beyond, he has realized the power of group support and how much they help, "but only if one wants the help" he says, "there is power in groups, and a person can use that for positive change."

A skilled craftsman, Andon has already started volunteering at Above and Beyond, helping with the remodeling that is now going on. His long term goal is to buy some land in Wisconsin and build a house for himself there.