Dr. Michael Dealy (Founder) shakes hands with a Beacon 361 Karate participant at a tournament.
Thank you Program Alumni Rudy Chase for sharing the following personal and heartfelt description of the impact of the Beacon Martial Arts Academy:
“The Beacon Karate program started in January of 1994 and has continued to be the true beacon of light to thousands of young people and adults in the Flatbush, and surrounding community. Students did attend the program to learn to fight, but quickly realized that the program was an opportunity to change something in our lives or home circumstances. Many of us didn’t have a father or a mother, many of us were doing poorly in school and many of us had a choice to join a street gang — or join the karate program.
Rocco Lombardo, the instructor welcomed and mentored us to believe in ourselves, look at the world and find the good in it and to love and help our community. Many of us were failing in school with less that 60% GPA. We were motivated to raise our grades while moving through the ranks to Black Belt. I joined with a 60% GPA and within 6 months my GPA went to 80%.
Many of our students made it to the rank of Black Belt. There is a saying in our Martial Arts Association: Every Black Belt represents 100 students that have joined and for some reason have decided to do something else. They left with the foundation of discipline, self-confidence and self-control that we gained at the PS 269 Beacon Karate Club. In 27 years, more than 38 Black Belts came out of the Beacon Program. Many of them would be in jail or dead today if it wasn’t for the CAMBA Beacon Program.
I wanted to share just a few short stories of the students in the CAMBA Beacon Karate program. Kevin, a bright, kind and gentle guy, struggled in Junior High School to control his anger. Kevin earned his Black Belt and today, he is a professional Massage Therapist in an upscale clinic in Manhattan. Kenton, a friendly, smart and athletic young man, struggled to make friends and avoid bullying. Kenton earned his Black Belt and today he is an NYPD Office serving to protect the citizens of NYC. And me, Rudolph Chase, a patient but lost kid that struggled living in a single parent household and trying to keep away from the local street gangs. That struggle was hard until I found the Beacon Program. After joining Beacon Karate, I turned away from the gangs and became a role model to my fellow students. I earned my Black Belt and after 9/11, I answered the call to serve and joined the United States Navy.
Many of the students went on the serve in the United States Military, others went on to college and are now working in their professional careers. I lived through both scenarios the community had to offer in the 1990s and those choices exist to this day — Beacon Karate versus gangs and prison and worse. I can tell you that without the program, the path for our youth would have been very different. The Beacon Karate program provided the alternative path we needed then, and need today. The program gave us a new path and changed our lives. We are truly grateful for the CAMBA Beacon Program to this day.”
While CAMBA staff across the agency chose their professions in order to help others, it is truly gratifying to hear from program alumni how the support provided changed their lives.
We send our thanks to Rudy Chase for sharing his thoughts, and our thanks and gratitude to all of our donors, funders and supporters for helping us continue this life-changing work.