Henry Post was just 6 years old when he joined the Canandaigua Knights Youth Hockey team. Even at such a young age, however, he knew he loved the sport.
“My dad kind of passed it down to me because his family was big on hockey,” said Henry, who belongs to St. Mary’s Parish in Canandaigua.
Twelve years later, hockey is still a big part of life for Henry, who is now 18 and a senior at Canandaigua Academy. He played as a forward for the Canandaigua Academy Braves for four years and also volunteered with the team’s program of teaching children to skate and to play hockey.
The Diocese of Rochester recently recognized Henry’s work with his young students and with several other community organizations. In November Henry received the diocesan Hands of Christ recognition, which is presented annually to high-school seniors who have been actively involved in service efforts in their churches, communities and schools.
Through his team’s program, Henry and his teammates taught children how to ice skate and play hockey. Every Friday during hockey season, which ended in mid-February, Henry and his fellow Braves met their young pupils at the Greater Canandaigua Civic Center and taught them the basics of the game, he said.
Henry taught boys and girls of all ages, but most of his students were boys in primary or elementary school, he said. Some of his students came to him with at least a rudimentary understanding of the game and some skating experience, but others had no experience, and he had to start from scratch.
The disparity between the students’ ages and skill levels sometimes made his job tough, but Henry said he welcomed the challenge because the experience was so rewarding.
“I do it because I like helping the kids. I like having them look up to you,” Henry said.
Last year, Henry also began working with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Rochester. Through this program, he’s been able to work with primary- and elementary-school students who don’t have older siblings of their own. Henry enjoyed the program so much that he signed up again this year, and he’s currently a Big Brother to a third-grade boy. Henry and his “brother” meet at Canandaigua Primary School once a week to play games and spend time together, he said.
Henry likes being a Big Brother for the same reason he likes helping kids learn to skate and play hockey, he said.
“The kids look up to you so much, and it’s a good feeling,” Henry said.
Henry also has served as a role model through Canandaigua’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education program. D.A.R.E. role models are drug-free high-school students who go into D.A.R.E. classrooms and share the experiences they’ve had and how they’ve been able to make smart choices while growing up.
Henry’s compassion and concern for others is not limited to people outside his immediate family, however. Henry is a very caring and loving person, and these traits have become even more pronounced within the last few years, said his mother, Margaret.
In 2002, Margaret’s 56-year-old sister, who has Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease, moved into the Post’s home. She had been living with her parents in North Carolina, but after they passed away she moved in with Henry and his family.
“It was a difficult transition. He was just a freshman in high school, so it was kind of a weird transition for him to have to deal with that at that age,” Margaret said.
Many teens might have reacted negatively to such a big change at home, but once again Henry rose to the challenge, Margaret said. Henry welcomed his aunt into the family and spends a lot of time with her. He often plays board games with her — especially Scrabble — and takes her out to get some fresh air, Margaret said.
“Overall it’s been a very positive experience for him, and for his friends as well,” Margaret said. “Basically, he’s just learned a lot of things about patience and tolerance and just kind of putting things into perspective as far as realizing how hard she has to work at any task.”
Living with his aunt isn’t always fun and games, but the experience has helped him mature and has helped everyone in his family learn how to be more patient, Henry said.
“It was very enlightening for him. It showed him that the world isn’t rosy, and you have to work hard. I think it’s opened his mind and his heart to others in need,” Margaret said.