Do The Right Thing, Part Two

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Traditionally, the martial artist takes an integral role in the society in which they
live. We are to be the role models among other things. I have tried to be such an example
in my studios, in a variety of ways.
Every year we have activities that are designed to help others and remind the
students of their obligation to the community.
We have two annual food drives, one at Thanksgiving and another at Christmas.
We also had one after Hurricane Charley in 2004 since the community of Punta Gorda,
which was severely damaged, is not far away. One of the first groups to be there to help
the immediate recovery was the Guardian Angels, and we were able to coordinate our
efforts with theirs.
Over the years we attempted to vary the receiving group. We donated to soup
kitchens, pantries, a migrant worker assistance operation, an orphan s home, and the
Harry Chapin Food Bank. We ve settled on the Harry Chapin program in the past years
and there is an interesting reason why.
Do you know that most of the places we donated to did either not even
acknowledge the donation or told us it was too difficult to arrange? We unloaded a
minivan full of food at one place and nobody said a word to us. In fact, they looked at us
strangely, like they didn t want us there. I simply didn t understand that after reading
their pleas in the newspaper. The other example of it being too difficult was equally
unfathomable, since we offered to bring everything to them – where and when they
wanted it. Go figure.
We hold an annual fund-raiser for our scholarship program. We have prizes for
the participants, and they raise a lot of money. This is good. But here is what I don t
understand.
I have had people come in who meet the requirements to be funded by the
scholarship. In essence, the scholarship pays 50% of the tuition and I eat the other 50%.
OK, I ll do that. They fill out the paperwork, the scholarship foundation says OK, and
then they get to the telephone interview. One guy told them he wasn t who they wanted
to talk to. The rep called back a day or so later and talked to the same person who says he
was the person they wanted. She swears the voice is the same, and I tend to believe it
since it was a single father situation and he had told me he was handling everything at
home. Anyway, OK. They say it s a go, and his kids take exactly two lessons before
dropping off the face of the earth.
Coincidentally I had a single mom whose daughter had taken the intro course
after being signed up by Dad. Everyone likes it. Mom called me and said Dad was not
going to pay for the ongoing lessons and that she was single and could not afford it. I
thought since I had the other kids unused money I d offer the scholarship to her. I did,
and you could almost hear her jumping up and down. She was saying thank you, thank
you, and telling me she d be down Monday and was really looking forward to it. Guess
what? Never showed up. Never called. I don t get it.
We do fund-raisers for the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the American
Heart Association. We host an annual “Brawlers VS Brainers” contest that pits the
martial arts team against the geniuses of Mensa. The money raised there goes for the
Mensa scholarship, awarded locally. 100% of the money from these events goes to the
funds. We don t take a dime. I like raising money for MDA because I had a childhood
friend named Danny who had it and it killed him. He was a really bright guy and it sure
was a loss for the world when he passed.
I have held free women s self-defense seminars for many, many years. They have
been useful to lots of women and I will continue to do them. They are not a commercial
for the studio. We don t sell anything. They are to keep the women in the community
safe.
Lots of studios do things like this and it s good. But even if it s just one thing they
do, and the kids get the idea, we ll all be better off in the future.

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