Roger Sasaki, whether in his career as a social worker or his mentoring role as a softball coach, was
known for his genuine care for people, especially those who were alone or didn’t fit in. After Roger’s
passing in November 2014, his daughter, Lindsay, was contacted by many childhood friends sharing how
much it meant to them that he took the time to play catch or offer a little extra batting practice even
though they were among the team’s weaker players.
His wife, Sandi, and children, Kevin, Shaana, and Lindsay, wanted to ensure his name lived on in a way
that honoured his love of people and his dedication to education and mentoring.
They had an idea of how to do this while writing Roger’s obituary for Vancouver’s daily newspapers. In
the Japanese community, grieving families often receive a financial gift of condolence, called koden. The
Sasakis didn’t want money for themselves, or flowers; they wanted a bursary or scholarship that would
help future students.
Once the idea was floated, donations came pouring in. The Sasakis were contacted by people who
hadn’t seen Roger for 40 years – colleagues, clients, friends. The Roger Sasaki Memorial Endowment
Leadership Award in Social Work was born.
Over $10,000 was raised, just shy of the minimum $12,500 required for an endowment. The Sasakis
contributed the final amount required to establish the award. Its first installment will be available to the
incoming class of 2015 – thanks to immense support from across the country.
“This award gives students an opportunity they might not have otherwise,” says Sandi. “We hope they
see his life as an example and inspiration.”