Friday, August 15, 2014
An Andrews man and more than 20 children are hoping the public will donate to make their dream come true — turning an old house into their new karate school.
Don Parsons, sensei of the Sessou School of Martial Arts, a Christian-based nonprofit organization in Andrews, and his students are requesting donations for their new home.
Teaching kids about discipline, self defense and confidence, Parsons has been operating his school in several locations, and currently at Andrews Church of God.
The building, which the Town of Andrews is leasing to Parsons and his karate school for $1 per year, needs renovations totalling at least $40,000, Parsons said.
They have commitments for about $12,000 so far.
“We’ve done a lot, but we have a lot more to do,” Parsons commented about the house that he and others recently gutted and are in the process of remodeling.
“We need a permanent facility, and parents, students, board members and people in the community have rolled up their sleeves to help.”
Parsons, who has been involved with martial arts for 37 years, served nine years in law enforcement and serves as a chaplain.
He said he has seen area youth’s morality disintegrate in the last 25 years and he wants to do something about it.
“I figured somebody needs to do something to help our kids,” Parsons said.
“If somebody needs to do it, I thought maybe I need to be that somebody.”
Many, but not all, of the kids in Parsons’ karate school are from single parent homes and have had issues with low self esteem, trouble paying attention and more.
Serving as a chaplain at a federal prison, he heard prisoners say that they would not be where they are if they had a positive role model growing up.
“My goal is to keep these kids from winding up like those guys,” Parsons said.
He charges students $40 per month – about half of what other karate schools charge.
“Hopefully we can get to a point financially where we are able to offer scholarships for families that can’t even afford that,” Parsons said.
“Also, at some point in the future, I would like to acquire a 15-passenger bus to transport kids who want to take karate but have parents with work schedules that don’t allow them to bring them.”
Andrews Mayor Rodney Giles said he is glad to support an organization that offers activities for children in the community.
He said the building that Parsons is renovating was once the home of Police Chief Al Williams and then was rented by Eddie Lee, a former investigator and current town councilman.
It has been empty for several years and Town Council was looking for a use for it.
“This was a good way for the town to utilize the property and for Don Parsons to provide a safe haven for the kids,” Giles said.
“It is a win-win situation for both parties.”
Suda Patel, a council member who had a son at the karate school, agreed.
“I am thrilled we are going to have a karate school in Andrews,” Patel said.
“Hopefully it will attract more students to enroll in the school and Don can be successful.”
Four of Parsons’ advanced students, Patrick Jordan, 11, Robert Blackowicz, 14, Jordan Commander, 14, and Leah Hardee, 16, agreed.
“We really need our own building because it would be really good for us,” Hardee of Andrews said.
“If people help us, it will not be taken lightly. We would really appreciate it.”
She leads a karate class of 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds from September to June.
Her father, Pastor Edward Hardee of Andrews Church of God, said he likes that martial arts teaches character, integrity, self defense and discipline and he said Parsons is a good teacher.
He urges people to donate what they can for the karate school’s new home.
“It’s a worthy investment and it is something that will be here in the long term,” Edward Hardee said.
“That is what I look for when I give a donation.”
Commander of the Italy section of Andrews said Parsons always makes karate fun and allows them to learn new techniques and express themselves in different ways.
He said the new building will allow them to learn karate even better.
“We will finally be able to set up shop and have our own stuff,” Commander said, “somewhere we can call our dojo.”
His mother, Gwendolyn Commander, said she likes that the karate school is Christian-based.
“It has a religious aspect to it and I love that,” she said.
“Jordan is an only child so karate teaches him how to defend himself.”
Blackowicz of Andrews said he likes a lot of things about the karate school and urges people to help pay for the renovation.
“I am pretty much begging on my knees,” he said.
“We really want to have a permanent building.”
Jordan, also of Andrews, said he likes learning discipline and new techniques for self defense.
“I hope we can get the new building done soon so we don’t have to move around so much.”
His grandmother, Alicia Martin, who has helped work on the new building, said she is glad Jordan is part of the karate school.
“It is more like a family group here,” she said.
“I think it helps Patrick to focus and pay attention better while challenging him physically.”
The karate school, which has been in existence since 2008, takes part in community events, including Relay for Life, picking up trash along a stretch of road, and cleaning up and painting in a park.
“We try to stay community-minded and participate in events as much as possible,” Parsons said.
“It’s important for kids to understand it is not just about getting but also giving back.”
To donate, send a check to Sessou Karate School, P.O. Box 157, Andrews 29510.
Donators will receive a contribution statement and donations are 100 percent tax deductible.