Isiah Connor: Taking Care of the Community

Updated: Dec 18, 2018


Isiah Connor takes care of people in need. Not just because he believes in good works—he does—but because taking care of people is our responsibility as human beings. "Take care of the community," he says, "and the community takes care of you."


At 28, Isiah seems older than his years. Perhaps this is because he’s had more experience and pursued more interests than many people a decade his senior. A plumber by day, Isiah is also a caterer, alt-folk musician, writer, podcaster, motivational speaker, and relational coach.


FAITH IN SERVICE

Isiah grew up in a small suburban town in Massachusetts, where he was a star athlete in football and track and field. During high school, Isiah became involved with Young Life, a non-denominational faith-based youth organization that ignited his passion for service.

While attending Young Life Camp in Saranac Lake, NY, Isiah met Cameron Kaminski, a resident of Bainbridge Island, WA. The teenagers shared a love of writing, poetry, and music—and quickly connected. Although they lived on opposite coasts, their friendship continued after camp ended, deepening into a bond that would change Isiah’s life.


Despite being born to a family of legendary athletes (his parents are both Hall of Famers), Isiah decided not to pursue an athletic career in college. Instead, he felt called to help others. When it was time for a major change and the opportunity to redefine himself on his own terms, Cameron Kaminski’s family on Bainbridge Island opened their doors to Isiah, whom they had never met in person but had talked to via Skype. Knowing only that the two young men were close friends, and that Isiah needed a fresh start, the offer was made and accepted. Isiah flew to Seattle on a one-way ticket. He was 20 years old.

ROOM TO GROW

“I needed to find a place to establish myself as an individual. To just be. I wanted to create a legacy of my own,” Isiah recalls. He remembers following Cameron around as he found his bearings. “Bainbridge Island felt good because it was new. I could start to build something that had nothing to do with anyone else. Only my own influences.”


Isiah was hired to lead a Young Life group in Bremerton, mentoring young people as he had been mentored himself. Following his mantra that “consistency over time creates depth,” Isiah was able to begin developing his legacy. He went on to complete pastoral apprenticeships and later became a motivational speaker and leadership development coach. “I help people better understand human interaction in order to become better leaders. If you pay more attention to human interaction and people’s personality traits, the game changes.”


CHOOSING LOVE

In 2013, while holding leadership meetings at a restaurant in Bremerton, Isiah was introduced to Gianna, the restaurant owner’s niece. Gianna reached out to a mutual friend to facilitate the connection. Isiah and Gianna began seeing each other.

Gianna had a son from a previous relationship, Geovanni, and Isiah refused to let the boy become a statistic. “It was different early on because there was a child involved. I knew I was either in it for the distance, or not. I’ve seen trauma in my life and I play no games.” The relationship became serious. Rather than asking himself “Is this the one?” Isiah asked: “Is this the one I’m willing to work for?” The answer was yes. Even then, Isiah sat with his decision for six months. In December 2014, Isiah proposed, and the couple was married a year later.

FAMILY FIRST

In 2016, Gianna gave birth to baby Luca, who Isiah lovingly refers to as Fatman. Today, Geovanni is 7, and Isiah coaches his football team. The family lives in Bremerton, where Gianna was born and raised. Isiah is now a fulltime plumber and works odd jobs for extra cash. Raised in a blue-collar community, he’s unafraid of hard work and physical labor. “I go the places nobody wants to go and do the jobs nobody wants to do.” The extra dollars Isiah earns serve a vital purpose.


When Isiah isn’t working or taking care of his family, he makes time to feed his community. He serves food to people who are hungry and delivers hot chocolate to people in the cold. “I didn’t get into cooking; cooking got into me. I grew up around it. My grandfather and grandmother would feed people for no reason. My dad cooked. It’s what we knew. I recognized early on that food always brought people together. In that sense, food is an extension of my ministry.” Isiah is also developing his love of cooking into catering private events for those who appreciate down-home cooking.

LEADING BY EXAMPLE

Isiah worries about how desperately underserved many of our local communities really are. His drive to help people in need extends beyond food and into the day-to-day struggle of community members who live from paycheck to paycheck—and can’t always make it. “Bremerton is not my first choice for hometown,” Isiah remarks. “But while I’m here, you’d better believe I’m going to take care of the people within my immediate power. I know what I stand for. I stand for the people in the trenches. I want to support young families who are trying to scrape together rent money or buy diapers when the cash runs out.”


Isiah knows who he is, and he knows how to navigate the challenges of surviving on the edge. “A snail is the only thing that can crawl across the edge of a razor and not get cut. That’s how I live my life. You have to adapt. You have to do what needs doing and make it work. When it’s all said and done, if you can look yourself in the mirror and be OK with what you see, you did it.”


BE THE CHANGE

Want to help? Send Isiah a “tip” to support his work. Your funds will go directly to the front lines Isiah serves. Venmo: @Isiah-Connor



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