THERE is one characteristic that has been shared by every single person who has ever been nominated as an honored guest at the annual Buhl Day celebrations.
None of them think they deserve the honor, and all of them have plenty of names of other people who do.
And that is why, most assuredly, each of these honorees has deserved every bit of the recognition that he or she has received.
This year was no exception.
Joe George and his wife, Ruthanne Beighley George, have spent much of their lives giving back to their community.
George, the former chief executive officer of Joy Cone Co., said he learned early on the value of hard work.
He helped build his family’s company into a successful enterprise that has employed generations of Mercer County residents and continues to be a major economic force in this community.
But there was something else that Joe George learned from his parents — the joy and the responsibility of giving back.
It was a lesson his father taught him and one he shared with his own children.
Now, the Sharon native supports many local causes and has been instrumental in economic development and charitable efforts all over the region.
And he has passed his wisdom and experience on — both to his family and to others in the business community.
His contributions have been immeasurable and his influence significant. He is a model for how to be a businessman with grace, integrity and honor.
It is no wonder that the committee chose to recognize him this year.
But George has an equally impressive partner.
His wife, Ruthanne, is a presence just about anywhere good works are being done.
She shares not only her own dreams and goals for her community, but helps others attain theirs as well.
A successful attorney in her own right, she has been part of boards and advisory committees for many nonprofits and continues to support and to champion what is not only best for her community, but what is the right thing to do as well.
Her heart, however, is in the park where she and others gathered to celebrate on Labor Day.
She loves it, and she is not hesitant about sharing that sentiment.
She knows what a gift Buhl Park is and how important it is to treasure it and to preserve it.
She is another very worthy honored guest.
Jim Mondok’s life has been about preserving nature and the environment.
After 44 years with the Mercer County Conservation District, he then set his sights on creating Munnell Run Farm, a first-class environmental and agricultural education center near Mercer.
So, working to protect the environment was not enough for Mondok. He had to make sure that others would learn how to love and to protect it, too.
And his resume is full of work designed specifically to accomplish that goal.
He has been part of everything from establishing a trout nursery at the farm to service on the Penn Soil Resource Conservation Development Commission.
The latter is now a nonprofit and was instrumental in founding of the McKeever Environmental Center.
Mondok also was one of the founding members of the Shenango Conservancy, whose mission is to protect the Shenango River.
His life has been about protecting some of this community’s most valuable resources for generations to come.
But that is not Mondok’s only service.
A Vietnam War veteran, he is now also working with Trout Unlimited’s veterans commission. The group’s goal is to use activities such as fly fishing to assist veterans who might be struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder or who just need an activity to help occupy their time.
Mondok understands that need particularly well. He has recently been diagnosed with PTSD himself.
Not only is he a veteran who has served his nation honorably and sacrificed for it, he is also a soldier who is still making sure no man is left behind, or alone.
All of those achievements, and his dedication to service, are what make Jim Mondok worthy of his Buhl Day honor — even though, of course, he thinks there are others who deserve it more.
All three of these people give back and pay their own successes forward for the betterment of their community.
They are to be admired — and to be emulated.
But for now, we will just say thank you, on behalf of their neighbors and their community.