In the presidential election year of 1996, Jeannie Mason, already a full-time employee of JLB Advertising, was asked to subcontract on a project.

Her “job” was to help organize the activities of the Community of Lebanon Association. That initial connection grew into a nearly 28-year commitment for Mason, a soon-to-be-67-year-old who’s retiring at the end of this year.

Over time, her responsibility at the nonprofit CLA, which is membership-based, grew as Mason took on roles without having to be asked.

For example, Mason planned every detail of the Car & Motorcycle Show – held the third Sunday in August – for 18 of the 25 years it took place, Board Chairman Greg Bracale wrote in the latest issue of the Communique, CLA’s quarterly newsletter.

Jeannie Mason planned every detail of the CLA’s Car & Motorcycle Show for 18 of the 25 years it took place. Here, attendees check out the cars on display at the 2019 show. (LebTown file photo by Barb West)

She told LebTown that involves tracking online registrations, finding sponsors, ordering trophies, even moving the show to a new location if necessary. There also were some extras marking the milestone when it was the 25th show.

In addition, Mason said she handled bookkeeping, financials, invoicing, “anything behind the scenes” that needed to be taken care of for the organization.

Mason, a graduate of Annville-Cleona High School, lives with her husband, Rick, in Cleona in a 100-plus-year-old home.

In retirement, she said she’ll probably work on the house. “There’s a lot of painting that could be done.”

I’ve been doing this for a long time,” she said, with plenty of “all-nighters” over the years.

“I’m writing everything down.”

Jeannie Mason has planned dozens of events for the Community of Lebanon Association over the years. Here is a photo from the 2009 Easter Egg Scramble. (Provided photo)

Mason said the association is governed by a 20-member board. In the beginning, CLA was a committee of the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce and then broke off.

Early this year, there was a merger with the Lebanon Foundation. That is supposed to result in the hiring of a downtown manager.

“A lot of the stuff we do promotes downtown,” Mason said, to help member businesses and attract new businesses.

The CLA also does the flowers downtown and hosts the Holiday Parade the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

Mason said the merger has opened more avenues to grants, too.

According to the CLA website, the vision of the association is “for the community of Lebanon to be a thriving place to live, work, shop, learn and do business.”

Its mission is to “serve as the leader in bringing together the collaborative strengths of our members and community to positively impact the business climate and enhance the quality of life for the community of Lebanon.”

And its purpose is to create and foster an environment of networking to promote businesses in Lebanon, and support and encourage beautification projects for the Lebanon community.

Board Chairman Bracale, who is with Bouquet Mulligan DeMaio Eye Professionals in Cleona, said the organization has members from all over the county and is growing at a modest pace.

Asked for comment on Mason’s retirement, Bracale referred LebTown to what he wrote about her in the Communique:

“She has been the backbone of this organization through thick and thin, always there to pick up the missing pieces that committee chair people may have missed. Jumping in and running the car (show) when no one else would do it. Handling all the details of the Holiday Parade and even playing Mrs. Claus at the tree lighting. Thank you for a job well done, your shoes are too big to fill, but will do our best to try!”

In the phone interview, he added, “We miss her already and she’s not even gone.”

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Paula Wolf worked for 31 years as a general assignment reporter, sports columnist, and editorial writer for LNP Media. A graduate of Franklin & Marshall College, she is a lifetime resident of Lancaster County.