As I was writing this column on Monday, I suddenly realized you will read this the week of Thanksgiving! Although it has been a difficult year there are so many things to be thankful for: our loved ones, the beauty that surrounds us, our friendships, the sunrise, the sunset, the birds singing. The things we miss will return. I miss going to events to celebrate people in our community, crowded restaurants filled with laughter and conversation. I miss hugging (so watch out when COVID is over). These all shall return. Thank goodness my doggies, Juliette and Josie, love me to hug them! The important thing is that we stay safe, wear our masks. Remember to call someone today!

As our lives have changed, so has our vocabulary. Who ever thought “Zoom” would become a word we all recognized as a virtual meeting rather than “to hurry”? Who ever thought that the word “virtual,” a word whose dictionary meaning is “to exist in essence but not in actuality,” would be one of the most commonly used words of 2020? This week we review two events, a semi-virtual and a Zoom.

Every year one of most anticipated events is the TAG (Theatre Arts Gallery) Gala held in the lovely yard of a generous High Pointer’s home with the art, silent auction items, food and drink illustriously displayed as over 400 arts patrons are greeted by TAG Executive Director Jeff Horney. That is what usually happens.

This year after several postponements, it was decided that the artwork and silent auction items would be displayed and bid on virtually but could also be viewed at TAG a few days before and on the day of the event. No food, no drink. No social gathering. However, everyone would be safe.

I ventured (also in need of personal interaction) down to TAG to visit with Horney. There was artwork from more than 50 artists and almost 100 “unique” silent auction items. Horney told me, “Despite the hardships that all have faced, our local businesses stepped up and supported TAG with generous donations! The raffle painting, ‘A New Day,’ was generously donated by the artist, Adele Yonchak. Adele lives in Charlotte, but her mother (Honey Hunsucker Moore) grew up in High Point. We raised $11,000 from the raffle alone, the most ever for our annual raffle painting.”

One of the interesting items was a marionette created by Barbara Tazewell, the mother of Paul Tazewell. Horney reminded me, “Paul won the Tony Award for his ‘Hamilton’ costumes, and this marionette was constructed from the actual material used for the Broadway costumes!” The lucky winners of the marionette were Suzanne and Bill Lowe, whose daughter is majoring in costume design at UNC Chapel Hill. A perfect home for such a collectible work of art! Suzanne and Bill (CEO Kemet) were Platinum Sponsors this year.

For the eighth year, Doug Witcher was the Presenting Sponsor with the Gold Sponsors of Helen and David Congdon (I am so excited about Congdon Yards!), Otto Moore Furniture Designers (winner of numerous awards) and Fidelity Bank. The Gala chair was Meredith Covington, and co-chair was Kathy Rohrbeck.

Taylor West, a furniture designer and TAG’s incoming board chair following Burris Hunter, won the raffle painting. He and his wife, Maria, a photographer. Horney added, “It is so great to have the younger generation stepping up and assuming leadership roles.” I couldn’t agree more.

Finally, Horney told me, “We are already looking ahead to 2021 with plans for Gala on May 7. Our supporters stuck with us, engaged at home, and made the event successful … beyond what we had hoped for!”

The second virtual event was the Junior League of High Point’s Annual Meeting.

This year ends Sadie Leder Elder’s two-year reign as president. I challenge you to find someone who exudes more positive energy. I would love to sit in on one of her psychology classes at High Point University. She was chosen as one of Triad Business Journal’s 2020 Outstanding Women in Business, with the description of, “One word that best describes Sadie Leder Elder of High Point University? Driven.” That is an understatement. The loves of her life are her husband, Wil (we all know Wil), and their absolutely adorable daughter, Gemma.

Sadie started the Zoom meeting with the statement, “Even with COVID we accomplished a lot!” The JLHP is kicking up their heels in our community. Their membership is growing. Do you remember when they celebrated their 90th anniversary with the 90-hour Volunteer-A-Thon? They touched so many organizations. When safe they will continue their signature projects like Kids in the Kitchen, Dinner with the League, Baby Basics, Youth Empowerment Day, and the list goes on. The JLHP has 36 community partnerships.

During her reign, one of the JLHP’s most visible fundraisers was the Show House, the Dalton-Bell-Cameron House on Johnson Street. There is nothing that shows the “before” condition like the aerial view (see photo) of the burned-out home. It was destined to be destroyed. Drive by today and see not only the restoration of a home but the preservation of a history and memories. Thanks to Rick and Margaret Lewis, who lived in the home as a child. They gave a large financial gift allowing the High Point Preservation Society to buy it. Junior Leaguer Mary Powell DeLille (daughter of Carol Young) led the renovation effort, just as she had done for the Briles House that now is the JLHP headquarters. Thanks to the generosity of Sustaining Junior League member Kitty Congdon and her husband, Earl, the mortgage to the JLHP is completely paid.

In closing, incoming President Rebecca McCarter said, “In high school, I was working at the String & Splinter, where I met Alisha Boger and Beth Earnst. I looked up to them as women I wanted to become. Their love of JLHP made a strong impression on me. I never dreamed I’d become president one day with Beth as a member of my board and Alisha as president of the Sustainer Board. I am proud to be the next JLHP president.”

Happy Thanksgiving!