78th Rochester Rotary Award Honoree: James Isaac

Moment-Driven Media Productions is proud to sponsor the Rochester Rotary Club in honoring James Isaac. Isaac received the 78th Annual Rotary Award on June 16th, 2015.

Throughout his career and into retirement, Isaac has continually shown a dedication and commitment to helping those in need through organizations such as the Eastern Service Workers Association. Mark Horn is the Director of Operations at ESWA, “It’s been our good fortune to know Jim since about 2005 and our association began when he generously agreed to be part of what we call our dream team, a stellar group of individuals who helped us construct a new office central for Eastern Service Workers.” The Eastern Service Workers Association is a membership-based organization set up to aid low-income workers in the Rochester area. These workers are encouraged to join the association.  It’s kind of like belonging to a union, the membership dues go towards supporting the quality-of-life needs of families. Horn believes this outreach to be a detriment to the success of the community as a whole, “Our community requires that everybody in that community is able to have a decent standard of living and needs a way to improve their conditions. If we can improve the conditions for those at the bottom of the economic ladder we can lift the entire community up and conversely, if we don’t, then the community is really not stable. I think that Jim really sees the value in every individual.”

Similarly, Isaac has personally been involved with Habitat for Humanity for nearly 30 years. He has helped in the construction of 120 homes in four counties.  Bill VanDusen is the Vice President of the board at Habitat for Humanity in Ontario County.  Isaac was a seasoned veteran on site during VanDusen’s first day as operations manager. “Jim and I met the first time in a home build that we did in Bloomfield in ’03. That was my first build. He came with his tool belt which had to be 30 years old well worn and had it full of a lot of tools, a person that was experienced and knew what they were doing – a gentleman for sure – and he was very easy to work with.” Additionally, Bill Bartlett of Flower City Habitat for Humanity has worked on many of the homes in Rochester with Jim. Bartlett says Jim brings a gentle touch along with his technical prowess at a construction site, “If we do have a homeowner on site he’s always one to speak with them, ask them how they’re doing, ask them how many kids they have, engage them and maybe help them, have them help him with what he’s doing so they can get the true feeling of ownership.

The Jim Isaac story isn’t just about sharing monetary wealth, or even rolling up sleeves and doing hard labor. Jim helps the families he serves understand how to accept these gifts. Garrett Cox was diagnosed with autism and had been attending the Rotary Sunshine Campus for several years. When he was eight years old, Garrett suffered an unfortunate accident causing him to lose both of his legs. The Cox family found themselves in a predicament, Garrett’s mother Lisa explains, “We definitely would have had to leave that home which would mean a whole new neighborhood and people not knowing him prior to his accident and understanding him, but starting out somewhere fresh. Financially it would have been a lot of hardship because we would have had to find something that was fully accessible. Isaac had heard of Garrett’s accident and the family’s need to find a solution. “Jim came in and talked with my husband Jerry about what would be the scope of the project to make it livable for Garrett. He talked right from the very first meeting about me helping with demo, sweat equity and what we would be looking at.” Isaac recognized the need to have the Cox family participate in the reconstruction project which included help from his network of volunteers.  According to Lisa, Garrett, now in his twenties, couldn’t be happier about the renovations, “The lower half of our house is kind of his man-cave and compartment and he’s pretty independent within that space. It’s his space and because we have the facilities that we need for him to be able to manage his daily care, with help, it’s made it so we could stay in that house.”

Isaac’s philosophy will carry on because it is timeless, just like his legacy throughout this community.


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