Volunteers of the Year
Volunteers of the Year
By CHS staff

Three Canisius High School students have been named Volunteers of the Year for their service in SABAH's weekend programs. Brian Finnerty '18 is the Hamburg Youth Volunteer of the Year. Alex Popat '19 and Evan Popat '20 are the Northtown Center at Amherst Youth Volunteers of the year. SABAH provides education and therapeutic recreation for individuals challenged by physical, cognitive, and/or emotional disability.

Brian, Alex and Evan will be honored for their service at SABAH's annual Volunteer Awards Dinner on Thursday, March 15, 2018 at The Foundry. Read more about these "Men for Others":

Brian Finnerty '18
Hamburg Youth Volunteer of the Year

At just 18 year of age, Brian Finnerty has an instinctive way of calming two of SABAH's more nervous athletes. Tommy Cooper and Sam Perison are SABAH athletes who have dealt with a great deal of trepidation on the ice, yet both are calmed and relaxed when they take the ice with Brian. With a maturity beyond his years, Brian has an encouraging presence that instills confidence in both of his SABAH athletes. Because of Brian's support, both Tommy and Sam have made tremendous strides since Brian's arrival in 2014. Tommy now skates without a walker and Sam has moved from a Rifton walker to greater independence with a regular walker.

The impact Brian has made in the lives of both young men is evident from the moment he walks in the rink. Tommy looks for his volunteer's arrival and insists that only Brian can tie his skates. While out on the ice, the pair can be seen laughing and joking throughout the entire early session. Sam looks up to Brian with tremendous admiration. Once again, Brian's ease and warmth immediately alleviate many of Sam's fears and help him to grow stronger and more independent.

Alex Popat '19
Northtown Center at Amherst Youth Volunteer of the Year

Each week at the Northtown Center at Amherst, Alex and Evan Popat are dedicated volunteers who make every effort to make sure their SABAH athletes are growing stronger and having fun. In 2015, Alex Popat began volunteering for SABAH at the Northtown Center at Amherst. One year later, his brother Evan also became a SABAH volunteer. From the beginning, Alex was paired with Ryan Gaske and Robert Cardarella, while Evan was paired with Isaiah Mesch.

As a result of Alex's kindness and support, both 13 year old Ryan and 7 year old Robert continue to make incredible progress on the ice. Both Ryan and Robert are always eager to show off their new skills, with both boys always looking to Alex for his approval. As a SABAH athlete close to Alex's age, Ryan looks to him as a "big brother" while they talk throughout the session. Robert also beams when he is around Alex and hangs onto his every word while they skate. Alex continues to display a remarkable compassion and kindness for his skating partners, as well as for the other SABAH athletes.

Evan Popat '20
2018 Northtown Center at Amherst Youth Volunteer of the Year

In 2016, Evan Popat joined his older brother, Alex, to volunteer at the Northtown Center at Amherst. Although he was just 13 years of age, Evan quickly became a dedicated volunteer who, like his brother, stays on the ice for both sessions on Sunday mornings. Evan pairs with one of SABAH's most talkative athletes, Glenn Martin. Glenn eagerly and endlessly chats throughout the morning session, while Evan patiently listens the entire time. Evan never seems to mind the one-way conversation, as the two are always enjoying their time on the ice. Isaiah Mesch also waits with great anticipation for Evan to start their session. If Evan is not available for a week, Isaiah struggles with fear and nervousness. Although Evan is just 15 years old, the young volunteer has been able to create a bond of trust and confidence for Isaiah. Evan also looks for other ways to support the athletes. If he has extra time available, Evan asks if there is anything else he can do to assist with the equipment or to help the instructors and volunteers.