Thomas Lewis, also known as Master Sabu, has been teaching martial arts for 45 years in the Bed-Stuy area of Brooklyn. His journey began when a young child he knew died from street violence. From then on, his goal was to give people an alternative and healthier way to express their emotions. That's why he created the Humble School of Martial Arts (HSMA).
Lewis collaborates with local schools and churches to provide wellness classes to the most vulnerable in his community. He teaches people of all ages and routinely goes to nursing homes to do wellness checks. Most recently, he created a program called "Futuristic Thinking," a mentorship program for at-risk teens.
"As a result of the classes being free or low cost, it was difficult to find funding every month to keep the operation up and running," Lewis said. "The children I found that needed this positive intervention were some of the same students unable to pay for classes. I compensated financially, by hosting fundraising and community activities within the local community. Although these efforts did not generate a lot of money, it did help (keep) the Humble School of Martial Arts from closing."
But the pandemic and civil unrest brought hardship to HSSM. Lewis found it difficult to keep up with operating costs. He says he will use his BeyGOOD grant to fulfill the mission of HSMA and to continue being a sustainable pillar in the Bed-Stuy community.
"This grant also gives us the opportunity to be able to reach our youth and to help nurture positive relationships with law enforcement," he said. "We want our community to have a better understanding of their rights, while helping them to further distinguish and appreciate their self-value and respect for their lives."