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The City Journals

South Jordan resident wins award for good-doing

Apr 10, 2018 03:51PM ● By Keyra Kristoffersen

Austin Hudson was awarded 2017 Community Hero for his volunteer work throughout South Jordan. (Austin Hudson)

On Feb. 7, the South Jordan Chamber held its annual Vision Dinner and Awards Gala, themed Winter Wonderland, to recognize local businesses for their community efforts throughout 2017. What came as a surprise was that an individual, Austin Hudson, won the award for Community Hero, not a business. 

“We usually do have businesses because that’s what the chamber does,” said Holly Heffron, chair of the Board of Directors. “I know a lot of other people know him and have benefitted from the stuff he has done.”

Members of the Board of Directors nominate those they feel have positively impacted the South Jordan community. 

“We looked at the different people sent in as nominations and looked to see who we felt contributed to the community, and we felt he was the best one,” said Heffron.

Hudson, who was also nominated though did not win in 2016, is just happy to be recognized for what he feels is just being a decent human being. 

“In both cases, I’ve been the only individual against local businesses, chains and fast food restaurants, and it’s really neat on the second year now to have an independent person working out of their basement trying to do a little bit of good,” said Hudson. 

For the last four years, Hudson, who thinks of himself as a freelance troublemaker, has spent his free time coming up with ideas to help his neighbors and community in positive ways. Some of those projects have included City Pride buttons in Mayor Dawn Ramsey’s office, to scavenger hunts around the neighborhood, to help people get to know those around them to a year-round Secret Santa that Hudson calls “Secret Sunshine,” where strangers are enlisted to send presents once a month throughout the year because.

“Why should it only be in December?” Hudson said.  

Hudson has created and put up posters welcoming immigrants to South Jordan and a twice a year online summer camp that encourages people all over South Jordan, Utah, the United States and some international followers to do good deeds for an entire month. 

“I think that as a society and a culture, it’s very easy to be apathetic or negative or frankly not care about your neighbors,” Hudson said. “I think there needs to be a counterbalance reminding people that everybody has the possibility or potential or the ability to just genuinely be better to the people around them and that it’s not hard.” 

Hudson has also organized a Thanksgiving and Christmas match-up for the last few years, pairing people who don’t have a home to go to for the holidays with people who are willing to receive guests. Every year, he receives 15 to 20 invitations from people willing to host, sometimes strangers, sometimes friends like James “Bam” Peck, owner of The Break Sports Bar in Daybreak. Hudson works hard doing research to try to best match up guests with hosts for a happy holiday. 

“On a given evening, I’d rather be at home watching TV in my pajamas,” said Hudson. “But if someone like me can do it and have a positive change on my community and the people around me and my city, it is possible for anybody to do it.”

With word of mouth spreading the tales of his generosity and projects, most of which are funded out of his own pocket using cash he sets aside for his “Stupid Projects Fund,” interest has spread throughout the city and into neighboring areas. This has helped build interest in his projects and has introduced him to some of his best friends in the world.

“It’s attracted very nice people who are genuinely good human beings and also made a little group in the community that know me, so it’s made a cluster of people who are all willing to get together and do good for each other,” said Hudson, who plans to continue his efforts indefinitely.

Hudson believes most people are genuinely good and want to do good things but may not necessarily know how. His projects have helped give them the opportunity by giving them a focus and allowing them to donate resources, manpower or funding. 

When a local elementary school teacher was having difficulty funding supplies for her classroom, and Hudson was made aware of it, he took to his own circle on social media to ask for help. Within six hours, they had raised $900 to donate. 

“Once you start putting yourself out there, not as a good person, but as a person willing to do good things with other people, you start to attract like-minded people, and they find their way to you,” said Hudson.

Hudson said he’s never felt like he’s sought credit for the work he does but was honored to be recognized for that work and hopes that his view of putting a little bit of magic into the lives of his neighbors spreads.

“I’m not special,” said Hudson. “I’m just a person who one day decided they want to do goofy stuff with their neighbors and community.”