Lifelong Lebanon County resident Greg Vaitl has given to the community over the years in numerous ways.

On Wednesday, the community recognized his philanthropy by presenting him with the Community of Lebanon Association’s Merritt Marks Memorial Business Person of the Year award. 

About 30 to 40 people attended the CLA’s afternoon business mixer and awards ceremony at the WEPA Empowerment Center in downtown Lebanon.

Vaitl, owner of Christman’s Funeral Home, Lebanon, is a member of Zion’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lebanon, Myerstown-Elco Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club of Lebanon, and CompeerCorps. He is also active with Lebanon County Christian Ministries. 

CLA member Cheryl Batdorf served as emcee and praised Vaitl as an example of “the best that the Valley has to offer.”

“I’ve had the absolute pleasure of knowing him for many years and couldn’t be happier to see him honored here tonight,” said Batdorf. “I’ve seen him work with many families to say farewell to loved ones, with grace and compassion.”

Read More: Greg Vaitl named as CLA Business Person of the Year

Batdorf said she once asked Vaitl – whose young daughter, Scarlett, was at the ceremony – how fatherhood and the workplace overlap. 

“I think I might have stumped him for a moment,” said Batdorf. “He said it’s just an extension of who he is. One only has to read the Christman’s Chronicles, Greg’s advice to families, to understand his passion for service to others. … You can easily see the overlap between workplace and volunteer work as each is evident in Greg.”

Both Batdorf and Lebanon Mayor Sherry Capello highlighted Vaitl’s critical role in helping the community cope with the untimely passing of police Lt. William Lebo, who was killed in the line of duty two years ago.

Read More: Community celebrates Lt. William Lebo’s life and service

“He went beyond the call of duty with what he did,” said Capello. “You can’t even imagine. I don’t think there is anyone in this county that has put more into a Celebration of Life than what this man has done for our lieutenant.” 

The audience at the Community of Lebanon Association listens as Greg Vaitl was honored as the association’s Business Person of the Year on Wednesday. (James Mentzer)

Capello said Vaitl was involved from the beginning throughout the services and honors that were bestowed on the city’s fallen officer.

“All of the arrangements that went into making that happen safely and honorably, of course, was not only emotional for the lieutenant’s family but his work family,” said Capello. “Our police officers are still feeling the effects of that horrific day, so I just want to give a personal thank you for what his family and his business did for Lebanon city.”

A proclamation presented by Capello on behalf of the city recognized his service on many boards. It also noted his speaker sponsorship at the Lebanon Valley Chamber of Commerce’s General Smoker Beyond the Call award and for being lead sponsor of the Sweep the Streets basketball tournament for the past several years.

“That (the tournament) is also something that’s dear to my heart,” said Capello. “It teaches them about being a good public servant and a good community member.”

Lebanon County Commissioners Jo Ellen Litz and Mike Kuhn both spoke and presented Vaitl with a certificate of recognition. Litz said she attends these kinds of award ceremonies not for personal recognition but to honor people like Vaitl, who are valued by the community. 

Kuhn said he’s witnessed Lebanon have its ups and downs, but the consistency of organizations like the CLA and business people like Vaitl who support it have a positive impact in their hometown. 

Vaitl was appreciative in accepting the recognition from his peers and said one person makes his service to the community a reality. 

“I am truly honored and humbled to receive this award from the CLA, thank you so much for this recognition,” he said. “I want to start by thanking my wife, Alyssa. She’s always been my rock throughout this journey and she’s always been there for me, through the ups and downs and very patient, which is important to me. I’m very lucky to have her in my life.”

Vaitl said he’s passionate about helping others.

“I believe that everyone has the potential to achieve great things and I’m committed to providing people the resources and support they need to reach their full potential,” he said. “I am grateful for these awards. It is a reminder that I am making a difference in the community and aspire to continue working, working hard and to never give up on my dreams.”

He ended his acceptance speech with a quote he said he found from someone named Ryan McGill.

“Treat others with respect and you will always be wealthy because your community is your real currency,” he stated. 

Vaitl told LebTown after the ceremony that he is amazed at being recognized with this honor.

“It’s an honor for me, just being able to be involved in the community, and that’s the biggest thing for me,” he said. “I grew up in the city, I grew up in this town. There’s a special place for this area in my heart and the fact that I won this is amazing to me. I’m able to do what I did because of everyone here, it’s not just me. It’s very humbling.”

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James Mentzer is a freelance writer whose published works include the books Pennsylvania Manufacturing: Alive and Well; Bucks County: A Snapshot in Time; United States Merchant Marine Academy: In Service to the Nation 1943-2018; A Century of Excellence: Spring Brook Country Club 1921-2021; Lancaster...


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