Bringing Success Into the Lives of Others

Yes Pa has been assisting young people and adults in developing character since 2002 by

  • Focusing on self-control, positive attitude, and perseverance.
  • Emphasizing integrity, determination, and enthusiasm as the keys to happiness and success.
  • Assisting students, incarcerated individuals, those with special needs, and many others to believe in themselves and be the best they can.

Best of all, it's free!

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.

Yes Pa Impact Statements

Read what teachers, specialists, and others are saying about the character education program offered by Fred Sarkis's Yes Pa Foundation.

Mary Gilman

Thomas Jefferson High School
Rochester, NY
"I would highly recommend reading Yes Pa in the High School population. The character building aspect of your book is wonderful. Students of all ages often vacillate between their belief system, peer conscience and what's working for them in the moment. Yes Pa can reinforce values or at least offer another choice to them. You offer the voice of a Grandfather or Uncle our students may have had but, never had the chance to learn their life story with ups and downs. As a bonus, your life parallels periods in time that we are studying in other classes. Your first hand accounts of the Great Depression and World War II are invaluable.
"Hopefully your extreme generosity and time will be appreciated by the US Government, Our First Lady and Arne Duncan to freely use your Yes Pa materials. I wish you the best of luck with this endeavor and hope you are successful."

Jill Keeler and Lynn Riccardi

Newark Valley High School
Newark Valley, NY
"Now that we have completed our unit of study, I can add my voice to the testimonials you have already accumulated. We are a small rural high school in central New York, Newark Valley, and we just used your book in a 9th grade applied English class, students who struggle with reading, writing, and school in general. We began the unit with trepidation for many reasons but the response of the students at every step of the way was positive, curious, and inquisitive. The reading level was such that they could easily handle the material yet worded in such a way to elicit deep discussions leading to insightful conclusions. It was so timely because we as teachers were struggling with many student behavior problems and the standard/traditional curriculum was not meeting the needs of these kids. In a nutshell, it turned out to be a lifesaver!"

Danny Wegman

Wegmans Food Markets, Inc.
Rochester, NY
"I think if there’s one thing we all want in our lives, it’s to make a difference, and when we are gone, to have influenced the people around us in a positive fashion. And I think that’s what Fred Sarkis is doing in working with young kids. He’s teaching them how to live life, how we live life, how he was successful, and I think that that’s the best thing an individual could ever do. I’m so proud of Fred, I’m so proud of his work with kids. He’s got his heart in the right place, and these young folks are going to feel it, that’s for sure. I know I have. And I believe in Fred.
"He believes in everything he’s doing, he brings his passion, and he teaches all of us that that’s so important in life to be passionate about what you’re doing. And so I think the fact that Fred shares this with young people—and all the difficulties he went through to become Fred Sarkis—I think he’s an inspiration to all of us. I know he’s an inspiration to me."

Thomas Lickona, Ph.D.

State University of New York College at Cortland
Cortland, NY
"Messages of character have to be delivered by a person of character. Fred Sarkis is such a person, and the story of his remarkable life will help anyone, young or old, to be a better person and lead a better life. Prisoner of the Truck and Yes Pa: Lessons in Character have the power to touch hearts and bring out the best in us all."

J.R. Smith

Earlham College
Richmond, IN
"Yes Pa: Lessons in Character and Prisoner of the Truck will inspire you with their message as they reveal the inner strength of a man who loves life, who confronts adversity, and who demonstrates how to be of service to mankind."

Joanne Agrasto Reed

Waterloo Middle School
Waterloo, NY
"Yes Pa: Lessons in Character caused my students to have empathy, an emotion that many middle students rarely show. Also, there was an improvement in their overall attitudes and academic achievement. With emphasis on adult or parental involvement, I will always use Yes Pa as required reading for my students."

William Locke

Arkport Central School District
Arkport, NY
"Yes Pa: Lessons in Character is universal. It touches students as well as adults who look back on their own lives. Yes Pa brings out empathy. It also creates a positive and memorable message."

Marcela Pous

Colegio Bosques
Aquascalientes, México
"I'm a member of a school in Aguascalientes, México. I know you through Tom Lickona's Summer Institute. As we are a bilingual school, we are surely going to use your Yes Pa: Lessons in Character book and the video of your talk. We are positive that you are going to touch our students. The first time I read Yes Pa I cried, you touched me. I really admire your work and dedication. Thank you."

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."

(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 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.

(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.

Lessons of Personal Responsibility

The Yes Pa curriculum is based on Fred's book, Prisoner of the Truck, and the real lessons he learned from his father as a child. This true story starts with Fred's perception of a childhood prison on his immigrant Lebanese father's fruit and vegetable truck. It was a 6-day, 100-hour-a-week job as Fred's Pa went door-to-door selling the fresh fruits and vegetables he'd purchased from farmers.

At age 8, in the summer, while other kids were playing on the sidewalks and streets of Rochester, NY, Fred had to work on the truck. During school months, Fred especially hated work on Saturdays. It was 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., the last call being at a bar.

In school, Fred didn't like being called a pigeon-toed, bow-legged, knock-kneed, or dark-skinned boy. He hated school and did poorly. He sulked from age 8 to 12. The only communication he had with his father was answering "Yes, Pa" when his father ordered him around. At age 12, three 5-minute talks with his father changed Fred's attitude and life.

Prisoner of the Truck by Fred Sarkis

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