“I originally didn’t even like community service,” admits senior Conner Kanaly. “My mom made me do a summer thing with Agape in seventh grade, and after that I realized it was fun to be around kids. I realized I had a passion for working with students.”
What started out as an activity his mother forced him to do one summer in middle school has turned into a project that will have a long-lasting impact on our local community. Now a Lovett senior, Conner has spent his time in high school finding unique ways to bring opportunities to underprivileged children in Atlanta.
Much of his early service work involved being a part of Lovett’s long-running, weekly tutoring program at Agape. Conner and his peers regularly visited the center to serve as tutors to elementary school students to help them with math homework, grammar exercises, reading, and more. These sessions were truly eye-opening to Conner as he came to see the obstacles that these young kids faced and the importance of the services that Agape provides them in order to help them succeed in the future.
As Conner continued to tutor at Agape, he also became determined to further support the organization by starting an initiative of his own. He had the idea to write and publish a children’s book, John Taylor the Mighty Strong Sailor, with one-hundred percent of the profits to be donated to Agape in order to help fund their programs.
“I just thought it would be fun and would help some kids,” Conner says about the goals of the book, which follows a young boy’s adventure on the ocean. He spent four weeks creating it and working with an online illustrator to make the story come to life. Although he faced some challenges in publishing it through KDP Publishing on Amazon, and even had to pull it on and off the website a couple of times, he was able to finally release the book in 2020. The book has raised more than two-hundred dollars for the Agape Youth Center.
Since then, Conner has written another book, Raley the Rockstar, whose profits go to the CDC to help them respond to the COVID-19 crisis, and a third story is now in the works.
Next fall, Conner will be heading to the University of Texas to pursue an education in business, and while he is not yet sure in what ways he will serve his new community, he knows that service will always be an important part of his life. The books he has written will continue to be available on Amazon to benefit the causes he cares about and teach children valuable lessons which he has learned himself.
“The message of John Taylor the Mighty Strong Sailor is to listen to your parents,” Conner says as he recounts the purpose of the first book he published. And, certainly, Conner learned so much about giving back to his community by listening to his own mother when she encouraged him to become involved with Agape in the first place.