Champion Stories

“Let the fruit of our work grow on other people’s trees”

Bob Buford - Author, Halftime

Champions are community weavers who have a paradoxical drive to improve our social fabric. Some are on the frontlines as everyday helpers and others are network Champions leading a change-making organization.

Crawford County residents have known John Gibbs for decades. He epitomizes the notion; “be a friend, have a friend, do good.”

John’s reach as a columnist in the local weekly paper since 2004 has given him a substantial footprint locally and regionally as his homespun stories are shared widely.

His deep loyalty to two generations of Kickapoojians, as he calls long-time settlers in Crawford County, is known by hundreds of former students and fellow teachers as he was the Ag teacher at North Crawford School for twenty-six years.  

John Gibbs receiving a leadership award from the Southern Wisconsin Community Foundation

Generations know John Gibbs. Many of his former students are parents and grandparents themselves. Now as they carry on with their lives nearby and across the nation. They carry with them a bit of John’s life lessons and good humor.

As a local historian, John helps neighbors tie current events to our important sense of the past, helping others navigate inevitable change without losing the spirit of the community. Known widely as a connector John’s network of friends goes back decades and remains relevant with every newcomer to the community. His steady hand of invitation extends to a large eclectic group of men, known comically as the Renaissance Men. This loosely associated group meets monthly for a potluck dinner. It serves as an “on-ramp” for deeper connections and long-lasting friendships.   

We can count on John for a Friday reminder of the Saturday morning coffee gathering for a small group conversation, helping us with a sense of belonging.

The friends of the library know John as a consistent promoter of reading. John consistently says to his friends, “Hey, I found this book that I thought you’d like.”

Always available for helping, John can be seen at Second Harvest loading cars for hungry families, delivering firewood for neighbors who run short, visiting someone who is ill or just isolated. John shows up at many funerals these days as a long-time friend of families, providing comfort at difficult times.

Gays Mills Lions Club can count on John on the annual Apple Fest weekend to put in long hours of preparation and volunteering

John is a servant leader in the classic sense. He has a paradoxical blend of personal humility and drive to improve the social fabric. He has a clear and compelling drive to serve others which encourages others to step up. He is an organizer behind the scenes pursuing good will. He is a contributor when a team of people are doing good. And finally, he contributes quietly to the well-being of neighbors and family.