Nancy Treskot, first vice president of the Greater Northern Lehigh Chamber of Commerce, opened the Spirit Night held at the Northern Valley Emergency Medical Services social hall in North Whitehall. On April 20 Jason Breidinger became the 19th recipient to receive the Spirit award.
"I am honored and privileged to honor Mr. Jason Breidinger as an individual but also family, friends and volunteers," said Treskot. She suggested they read the poem, "Why volunteer?" found on the back of the program. It begins, "It's not for the money, it's not for the fame, It's not for only personal gain."
She said volunteerism is passed on to other members of a family.
Tony Iannelli, president of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce, said, "I want to say being involved with people, young like Jason or old like the mayor, is great. The reason I wanted to be here to pay tribute to Jason is that the Breidinger family has done so much. Jason is committed to your community."
Treskot said, as she introduced past winners of the Spirit award, that people would understand what was mean by volunteerism. It is not dead. It's passed on from one to another in the family.
Past winners are: Robert Allen, Joseph Bechtel, Charles Breidinger, Dale Breyfogle, George Dillard, Gary Fodorcha, Sharon Hartman, Marilyn and Everett Kaul, Ted Kistler, Jody Nestor, Susie Olewine, Peter Papay Sr., Fred Rentschler, Ellwood "Duff" Schantz, Greg Soltis, Robert Stettner, Robert Treskot and Larry Williams.
"Our community is rich in volunteerism," Treskot said. She named state Rep. Julie Harhart, Virginia Savage representing Lehigh County, and Slatington Mayor Walter Niedermeyer as friends and hoped they considered themselves part of the Chamber family. The centerpieces, piles of books, show the relationship to the Slatington Public Library. Each pile went home with the person who had a smiley face under their plate.
Treskot asked if she could give a five minute commercial honoring the business sponsors: Bechtel's Pharmacy, Susquehanna Bank, Keystone Technologies, Ironton Telephone, Neffs National Bank, the Lehigh Valley Zoo, Maron Financial Solutions, PenTeleData, Prudential Benjamin Real Estate and Mortgage America.
President Kevin Schmidt said it was an honor to recognize Jason Breidinger. He is always calm and is there to volunteer at the parade, picnic and mixers. He has become a spokesman for the Chamber. In addition to the Chamber he is on the board of directors of the Northern Lehigh Emergency Management Service where he is publicity chair and is an active member of the Slatington Lions Club. He can bring calm to the most difficult situation, said Schmidt.
Breidinger was given a present which he opened and found an alarm clock because he has a reputation for being late. His wife Keshua received a bouquet for "letting Jason be with us."
There were citations from Harhart, who said Rep. Gary Day and she "fight about who gets you. "She hadn't realized until recently that Breidinger lives in New Tripoli.
Savage's presentation was from Lehigh County Executive Bill Hansell. Mayor Niedermeyer said his proclamation came from his personal budget which is for $3.
Not present but sending citations were Congressman Charles Dent, state Sen. David Argall and Sen. Patrick Toomey.
Treskot said slate is the foremost mineral of the area and she presented a plaque from the Chamber made of slate. "Congratulations and all the best."
Breidinger went to Penn State where he was on the racquetball team. After college he joined the family business, Prudential Benjamin Real Estate. He married Keshua in 2008 and has two sons, Luke and Adin. He is now with Mortgage America.
He began his talk with "Wow, there's a ton of people here." After college he expected to have a job and wife, but both took time. In a time when everything was governed by computers he considered himself a novice.
One of many lessons he got from his parents was to be involved. When the Slatington bridge was being rebuilt a Bridge Club was formed and he joined. He was selling Christmas trees at what is now the trailhead of the D&L. Pete Papay told him the Bridge Club needed another project with the bridge complete, and the project became the trailhead. The dedication of the new station will be May 17.
It was done without public funding. Volunteers did the work such as stacking bricks. It put Slatington on the map. There will be concessions and bike rentals.
"It animates the body of a person with a particular character," Breidinger said. "For 15 years I've been in admiration of Spirit recipients."
He said it took many hands to do what he was being given credit for. When the call went out for help no one said "no."
"I'm more fortunate of what anyone age 37 could expect," he said.
He told of meeting Keshua and she said "yes. Our in-laws support us endlessly." He said he gets up early and stays out late and Keshua and her family take care of the home.
He concluded with the fact that he came for the stuffing and everyone was there.