It's 10 p.m., a time when many folks are winding down from the day, perhaps dozing in front of the TV or enjoying a good book.
Then there's Jim Mahoney.
Fresh from a meeting at the , Mahoney graciously offered to come by on his way home and pose for a photo. He shunned the rocker – “That’ll come later!” – and settled down on the couch before smiling for his photo op. Despite the late hour, he was full of energy and happy to talk about his many projects, both past and present.
When asked what spurred him to a life so full of commitment to volunteerism, Mahoney shrugged it off. "I'm not really a joiner," he said simply.
That statement is hard to fathom given the man’s resume. Even George Bailey himself, the classic movie character known for unfailingly helping out the next guy, would scratch his head in wonder. Earlier this week the Northport-East Northport Kiwanis Club honored Mahoney as National Fireman of the Year at their annual golf outing, just one of the many accolades that the 80-year-old has garnered.
The Kiwanis program for the event utilized two pages to list his achievements and awards, including: 39 years as a member of the Northport Fire Department and their longest-running active EMT; ex-Commander of the and their current Chairman of the Board; Director of the Cow Harbor 10K Race for over twenty years; a teacher of babysitter courses and Safe Kids for 35 years. The list goes on. I tried to do a rough tally of all the continuous years that Mahoney has spent helping others and came up with an astounding 161. That's a conservative estimate.
Mahoney explained that he's driven by his interests. "People just ask me to join," he said, expressing a firm belief that commitment is key. "I don't like to join unless I participate. I don't want to carry a (membership) card just to carry a card. That's meaningless."
Mahoney shows no signs of stopping. The lifelong resident of Northport will once again be helming this weekend's , a responsibility he has shouldered for the past nine years. Next month he'll be on hand for the unveiling of the newly refurbished center stone for the fire station on Waterside Avenue, one of the events leading up to the 125th anniversary celebration of the Northport Fire Department in 2014. Mahoney is Chairman of the Anniversary Committee.
In his spare time, Mahoney said he enjoys watching sports and spending time in his yard. He and Sophie, his wife of 53 years, have four children, three of whom live nearby. They also have four grandchildren.
If Mahoney seems unimpressed with his own accomplishments, he's in the minority. John McKenna, former chief of the Northport Fire Department, has only praise for the man he’s known since he was a child.
“I've been fortunate to work with Jim on many, many projects and programs,” he said. “Jim has done so much more for the community than we could possibly list here and what I admire most -- and had noticed immediately -- is that Jim does what needs to be done and he does so to near perfection. He treats each project as if it were the most important issue at that moment. And the key fact is, Jim does not look for nor does he want any recognition for the incredible work he's done. The world could use more people like Jim Mahoney. He's a gentleman, a classic gentleman.”