PORT CHESTER, N.Y. -- A chance encounter between a Port Chester bartender and an international volunteer from Connecticut may give a boost to youth development programs in Ukraine.
Al Corbelli, general manager and head bartender at nessa restaurant, 325 N. Main St., recently met Daven Karp, 24, of Old Greenwich, Conn., at nessa. Karp learned Corbelli wrecked a car tire and rim earlier that day. When Karp gave him a ride home to Mahopac, they swapped stories about Ukraine. Corbelli had traveled there with his aunt as a child and Karp taught there during the past two years while volunteering in youth development, project management and international development.
The more Corbelli learned about Karp's work with Ukrainian teenagers -- guiding them in project design and management, and raising awareness about HIV/AIDS and human trafficking -- the more Corbelli wanted to help. One of Karp's high school students later enrolled at American University in Bulgaria, which he said inspired him to get more deeply involved.
So this Saturday, Corbelli offered to donate his salary and tips to a Ukrainian youth camp program. Marc Tessitore, who owns nessa, took it a step further. Tessitore of North Stamford, Conn., has decided to donate all of this Saturday's restaurant profits -- from 5 p.m. until closing -- to Karp's efforts in Ukraine.
Tessitore said he is particularly moved by how selfless both Karp and Corbelli have been throughout, not seeking any credit for their efforts, and steering clear of politics.
"You're helping him, he's helping you, and you're complete strangers,'' Tessitore recounted.
Like Corbelli, the more details Tessitore heard about Karp's work with Ukrainian youths, the more he wanted to help, now pledging to collect donations indefinitely.
Corbelli said he was struck by Karp's commitment to Ukrainian children and others who became his friends in the process.
"I am a jaded lifelong barman, with absolutely no ties to Ukraine whatsoever,'' Corbelli said. "His altruism has affected me tremendously. . . I've never done anything like this before. If you listen to his story and don't get involved, you're heartless."