A Walnutport man offers proof that life doesn't have to be all work and no play.
Thanks to that approach, Greg Soltis was the recipient of "The 18th Annual Spirit Award" presented by the Greater Northern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce as part of an event held Monday at the Iron Lakes Country Club in Orefield.
Jason Breidinger, Immediate Past President, of the GNLCC, thanked chamber members in attendance for their continued support.
"We have a vibrant organization, which has allowed us to have an effective chamber," Breidinger said. "I see a lot of past recipients [of the award]; it's still a blessing to have all of you."
Nancy Treskot, 1st Vice President of the GNLCC, introduced Soltis to the audience.
Treskot said the award is given to "people who have dedicated their lives to this community."
"That's what Greg Soltis has given the people of Walnutport," Nancy Treskot said. "Also, Everett and Marilyn Kaul have given their time and talent to the [Walnutport] Canal Association."
At that, Soltis stepped up to the podium accompanied by a bunny suit he brought along.
Soltis said he tries to get as much amusement as possible out of the activities he participates in.
"I enjoy having fun," Soltis said. "I think a lot of people, I can make them laugh at my own expense."
To further accentuate his point, Soltis constantly made reference to the fun he has.
"I'd rather be wearing this bunny suit than a tuxedo," he said. "I'd like to thank the chamber for honoring me, and the 17 people who preceded me."
Chamber member Charles Breidinger said it's the quite ones such as Soltis who get things done.
"We all enjoyed the Walnutport Canal Festival, and it was Greg, along with a number of others in this room that has played a big part in our being able to enjoy it," he said. "Maybe we should be watching the quiet ones, because they're the ones who work tirelessly, and the ones who get the job done."
Everett Kaul, president of the Walnutport Canal Association, said Soltis is the reason why the Canal Festival continues to be such a huge success.
"Greg Soltis is the driving force behind that festival," Kaul said. "Greg is a great guy, and well deserving of the awards he's being given tonight."
Bob Treskot, president of the Walnutport Playground Association, said Soltis is "the most conscientious person you'd ever want to meet."
"He's well-deserving, a great guy, who does so much for our community," Bob Treskot said. "Not only do I think he's a great guy, but I consider him one of my best friends."
It was then announced that Walnutport Mayor Henry Kline, who was not in attendance, proclaimed Monday, April 16, as Greg Soltis Day.
State Rep. Julie Harhart said the recipient of the Spirit Award is someone who gives their all to their community.
"You've been very successful in your career," Harhart said. "You really are an asset to this community, and a great citizen for this community."
Ellie Passman, Vice President, Regional Councils, Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, thanked everyone who came out to the event.
Since he moved to Walnutport in 1993, Soltis has been involved in many community organizations. He has been a member of the Walnutport Canal Association for almost 20 years, and has been an integral part of the planning and executing of the Annual Walnutport Canal Festival, which is now in its 17th year.
Soltis is also a member of the Walnutport Playground Association and the Slatington Rotary Club. In addition to his service to the community, he is a member of the Assumption BVM Church choir in Slatington.
His extensive volunteer efforts over the years have benefited Slatington, Walnutport, and the surrounding communities. Raised in Lehigh County, Soltis graduated from Catasauqua High School in 1967, and then attended Mansfield State College, where he majored in history.
Upon graduation from Mansfield, Soltis joined Volunteers In Service To America Program (VISTA), which is now part of AmeriCorps, where he spent the next two years in Tennessee serving in impoverished areas of the state lobbying to bring food stamps back to those in need.
Once he returned to the Lehigh Valley, Soltis worked for several local companies including Bethlehem Steel, Howard Construction, and Hillenbrand Framing. He also worked pouring urethane floors for Versa Tech out of Riverton, NJ and racket ball courts for Martin Surfacing & Decking in Cockeysville, MD. In 1984, he became a foreman for Kempton Valley Builders.
It wasn't until 1989 when Soltis became self employed and formed Greg's Enterprise Construction with Concern, which has since become abbreviated to Construction with Concern. The company currently employs four carpenters undertaking commercial and residential projects. Their scope includes framing, roofing, siding, trim work, painting, and light concrete.