YES PA: Tutoring and Mentoring

YesPa-Three Crucial Lessons

In the summer of 1938, three major events changed the life of Fred Sarkis forever. These three, 5-minute lessons are the basis of the Yes Pa program.

By selling strawberries door-to-door in the summer, Fred learned the power of enthusiasm. He also learned the importance of an education and the golden rule. A talk with his Pa made Fred realize that only he was responsible for where he would go with the rest of his life. Fred turned the truck into a study center, and at night, Fred studied under a kerosene lamp. He thought, "Abe Lincoln did it, why can't I? And he became president of the U.S."

  • The Power of Enthusiasm
    (Selling Strawberries) — This lesson changed Fred's attitude from negative to positive. He immediately stopped being shy and timid. He became friendlier and happier.
  • The Importance of Education
    (The Basket Story) — One fateful day, Fred made the biggest decision of his young life. He realized he was responsible for the course his life would take, his destiny. He firmly believed that if he studied hard, he could be anything he wanted to be.
  • Integrity in All Relationships
    (The Golden Rule) — Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Be fair and honest. Do not lie. Do not cheat. Do not steal. Be the same in school with your classmates, with your friends, with your family, when you get married, when you have children, or if you work for someone or are in business for yourself. You will be happier and a more peaceful person.

Fred Sarkis Yes Pa Student-Athlete Award

Fred Sarkis, born in 1926 in Rochester, NY, was the oldest son in a family with nine children. Working hard as a child, Mr. Sarkis learned a lot from his father before entering the navy to serve during World War II. Returning home after the war, Mr. Sarkis returned home and used what his father taught him, becoming a successful businessman. Upon retiring at age 65, Mr. Sarkis created the not-for-profit Yes Pa Character Education Program. Named after his Pa, who had meant so much to him and taught him so much, Mr. Sarkis wanted to create a program to help others how he was helped. And now, over twenty years later, Yes Pa is a huge program to help teach individuals learn more about character and responsibility.

The Yes Pa Character Education Program has become an integral part of Saint Sebastian Society and our work mentoring young adults in the County Jail. We are proud to honor two University of Rochester Student-Athletes and St. Sebastian Society members who seek to live the qualities many others have so fondly seen in Mr. Sarkis.

Selected nominees will be awarded with a financial scholarship each year.

Past recipients of the award include the following student-athletes:

Name Class Year Major(s)
Christopher Bushnell 2023 Pre-Med
Ryan Algier 2022 Business and Data Science
Marissa Russo 2021 Brain and Cognitive Sciences
David Rieth 2020 Financial Economics
Brendan Shamieh 2020 Financial Economics
Shannon Cahalan 2019 Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Psychology
Vanessa Davis 2018 Molecular Genetics
Tyler Schmidt 2018 Data Science
Jennifer Hennig 2017 Bioethics and Psychology
Sarah Kaminsky 2017 Chemical Engineering
Anya Joynt 2016 Molecular Genetics
Patrick Walch 2016 Health, Behavior, & Society and Nursing


YesPa Book [English | Spanish]

Prisoner of the Truck [English | Spanish]

Prisoner of the Truck Play [pdf | docx]

About the Founder

Born on May 16, 1926, Fred Sarkis is a WWII vet, dedicated to helping kids be all they can be. In Yes Pa, he shares the same lessons that transformed his life when he was a poor child with a bad attitude, who was bullied because his skin was darker than his peers.

Fred became a millionaire because of the lessons of personal responsibility that he learned from his father. Once he embraced three simple messages, he began to excel in school, obtaining his high school degree at age 16. At 17, Fred bought his mother a house. He joined the Navy at age 18. Being the oldest boy of 10 children, at 24, Fred became the head of the family when his Pa passed away at the age of 54. He earned his first million at age 34. Fred built a major ski area and lake village, lost it all, and recovered.

Retiring at the age of 65, Fred became an author and motivational speaker, and has been giving back to the community ever since. The not-for-profit, Yes Pa Foundation, is based on his autobiography, Prisoner of the Truck.

Sarkis YesPa Endowment Fund
Bringing Success Into the Lives of Others!

  • Tutoring focusing on self-control, positive attitude, and perseverance.
    Mentoring emphasizing integrity, determination, and enthusiasm as the keys to happiness and success.
    College students assisting younger teens to believe in themselves and be the best they can.
    Creating unique opportunities for all.

Make a gift today!
To Send a Check:
University of Rochester Gift and Donor Records 300 East River Road
c/o Sarkis Endowment
Box 270032
Rochester, NY 14627

All gifts support the Fred and Helen Sarkis YesPa Endowment at the University of Rochester