We landed in Georgia on the night of the big game. We were there to work with University Extension Agents to help them articulate and tell the story of how they had made an impact in their communities.

Needless to say, the mood the next morning was pretty enthusiastic, as UGA brought home the national championship. Go Dawgs! They had been waiting 41 years, after all.

Now, if you know me at all, you know that I don’t follow sports. But just because it’s not important to me, doesn’t mean I can’t see how important it is to others.

Laura wore a bulldog necklace when I photographed her. Laura’s mom and sister had raised Cue, the bulldog mascot for the team. Laura’s sister had passed away earlier in the year from cancer, so it was with bittersweet pride that she watched Cue on the sidelines for the win, knowing her sister had helped in her own way, even if she wasn’t there to see it in person.

Campbell showed up with a shirt his buddy’s wife had made, covered in the UGA logo. She made one for each of the guys, and they wore them for every game, but when Campbell’s buddy died a couple years ago, he hung it up. In a video chat with his buddy’s wife during the game, he saw she had his shirt hanging by the TV, and when they won the game, Campbell decided to pull his shirt out again to honor both the team and his friendship.

These things connect us. Especially in hard times, it’s good to have reasons to celebrate.

And that’s what we did with this series at the Extension conference in Georgia. We asked people to remember the time they had made the greatest impact on their community. It’s important that we acknowledge the challenges, but also celebrate the successes. It helps to remember when we’ve done well, so we can use that as our guiding light.

Whether is was helping a young person feel like they mattered, or teaching a farmer how to use sustainable practices to increase their yields, or connecting families with resources to be successful, these are the daily acts of building community.

You’ll see all 84 of their responses in the photos below, as well as two videos we created from the collection. Enjoy. Be encouraged. And since it’s MLK Day, think about how you want to make your own community impact today.

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