Friday, August 28, 2009 "Mr. Lewis"
Extreme Makeover Home Edition is in town with their biggest project yet. A 7,000 square foot home known as “The Fishing School”. It’s an After-School program helping at risk youth in NE Washington D.C.
Today we spoke with the inspiring Founder of the School known as “Mr. Lewis”. Here is our interview with him.
About the Fishing School
In 1990, The Fishing School, a youth and family support organization, was created. But the story didn’t start there. Tom Lewis, TFS’s founder, was born in Chadbourn, North Carolina, the sixth of 15 children. His mother, Martha, picked cotton, and his father, Gaston, worked in a sawmill. Lewis dropped out of school after tenth grade and, like most of his siblings, left home. He found work as a migrant farm laborer picking fruits and vegetables in Virginia, West Virginia, New Jersey, New York, and Florida. In 1959 Lewis moved to New York, was drafted into the U.S. Army, and was stationed in France.
He eventually achieved his dream of joining the Metropolitan Police Department and spent 18 years in the Officer Friendly program visiting classrooms throughout the D.C. public school system to counsel students and to teach good citizenship, drug abstinence, and safety. His dedication and commitment to children was evident. Lewis was frequently overwhelmed when he visited classrooms and witnessed the poverty and desperation exhibited by the students. He tried to set an example for students by having earlier earned his GED and eventually earning a college degree.
In 1986, Lewis retired from the police department and a few years later in 1989 he dedicated himself to serving those children he’d met along the way as Officer Friendly. He decided to convert a rental property that he had purchased in a drug infested northeast Washington, D.C. neighborhood into a family support center. He spent the next nearly two decades proving that if one man stands up, he can truly make a difference. The Fishing School programs have gone on to reach over 2,500 students and their parents in under-served communities throughout the District of Columbia.