Konnor has a smile that lights up any room and an equally infectious personality. Every person who comes to this local food pantry in Miami loves him. He’s always there to offer a kind word, a reassuring story, or a compassionate smile.
Konnor works regularly at Joshua’s Heart, a Feed the Children partner agency. He loads and unloads trucks. He helps organize daily food distributions, and he likes to offer words of encouragement.
“I say don't be so mad at yourself or proud or just hardnosed. There are people out there willing to help you get through this time.”
Konnor speaks from the heart because he knows exactly what it’s like to ask for help. Before he was an employee at Joshua's Heart, he was a patron. His loving temperament comes from a true understanding of what it’s like to not have enough food.
“When you don't have money for food, it's agitating. You're depressed, like, ‘Man, I don't have money for food. This is frustrating. I'm an adult. I'm not supposed to be here. How did I get here?’”
The way he got there could happen to anyone. He got injured and then had surgery. But that medical procedure led to other health complications and more visits to the hospital.
“I got laid off. They didn't like that I was sick a lot. You know, I can't blame them, but it was hard to get another job at the time because I was sick.”
That time in his life was dark and lonely. Konnor didn’t have anyone to lean on.
“It felt a little bit like no one cared. Here I am, all messed up, in one of the richest countries on the planet, and barely have food. It's not supposed to happen here, and it was happening to me.”
Complicating his recovery, doctors had told Konnor to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and less processed foods to help with his health issues. But without a steady income, he was only able to afford less expensive, packaged foods.
“I never thought I would be in that position, so when I found out there was a place that I could go get food and I'm, like, ‘Oh, I don't have to eat Pringles today? I can eat something different?’ It was pretty life-changing at the time because I really needed the help.”
“It was a big difference to be able to get real food, and it really affected my health for the better. I was living off of junk food and not feeling so great.”
Once he was able to get more nutritious food, Konnor’s health – and his state of mind – began to improve. It gave him the drive to work towards a better future, and it opened a chance for him to help the very food bank where he received food.
“I volunteered and I didn't mind working hard, and they needed someone to do the manpower. There's a lot of work to be done, and it was great to be able to give back to what helped me.”
These days Konnor’s volunteer work has turned into a full-time job, a career path he never imagined.
“I’ve had a lot of personal growth. I saw I could make a difference and help other people, and it's helped me go towards the right direction, figure things out. You know, I never thought I'd work with food; I was a realtor before. So, I never thought I would do something like this.”
“Sometimes people think, ‘Well, I'm the only one going through this. I'm the only one,’ but you're not. You don't have to be alone. Someone else has been through what you've been through and got through it.”
Even with the rough patch in his life and the unexpected career change, Konnor looks back on it with gratitude. The experience has given him some ideas he wants the world to know.
“It feels phenomenal, feels great. You know, I almost feel like more people should do it, it should be more embraced. You know, we can make anything popular. Why not make helping others more popular?”
We couldn’t agree more, Konnor.