The business of helping in Bakers Mills

BAKERS MILLS If you ask John Monroe, he will tell you that you cant spend over three decades owning the only bar in Bakers Mills without meeting a lot of people. But after talking with him for awhile, you start to understand that what makes Monroe unique isnt his business, or where he lives, its what he believes in doing for others that defines his contribution to the community. While many people believe in charity, or giving assistance to someone in need, what sets Monroe apart is his willingness to dedicate himself and his business to worthy causes. I like people and I have been involved with people all of my life, Monroe said. Before owning J&Js, I was in the contracting business and I owned a restaurant at one time. This is a natural business for me to be in. As many know, personal stories of fortune and despair pass very easily over a bar, with owners and bartenders having a reputation as informal confidants. Sometimes people get down, theyre sick or they need help, Monroe said. Some people have to deal with a hospitalization or a death in the family. A lot of them dont have enough money, so they have to deal with some pretty tough things. Someone will give me an idea of whats going on, well ask around, and figure out how we can help and what they need the most. To alleviate some of the hardship faced by community members in need, Monroe began to hold benefit events at his Route 8 business to draw attention to the problem, and solicit donations. A lot of what we do are fundraisers, and everybody comes, added Monroe. Well also hold auctions and people bring their junk. Everybody knows its to help people so they buy the junk whether its any good or not. They really care, and thats what matters most. While he cannot recall every person or family he has helped over the years, one particular event stands out in his mind. The most rewarding thing we ever did was we had one family where a woman had cancer and we raised over $10,500. That was really something for a small community. All the businesses around North Creek donated money or items to auction off, and we really have to thank them. We just get the community involved, get people involved, and coordinate with someones friend or family, who know that they need help, he said. After recently completing a renovation project, including a redesign to the bar area, an addition, and numerous equipment upgrades, Monroe has decided to take a step back and give some thought to retirement. He has also listed the business for sale, in the hopes that a new owner will step in and continue his tradition. Itll be 31 years in May since I bought J&Js. After that long, Ive had enough. But Im sure going to miss the people, Monroe said. With his legacy of helping those in need, its certain the community will miss him as well.

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