I am off and running! I feel like that anyway. I have gotten my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and look forward to my second dose and gradually regaining the normalcy of being close to those we love.

Until that day comes, the COVID normal remains in place for events that High Pointers relished for their great fun, friendship while fundraising for the organizations we hold so dear to our hearts. I recently described the High Point Oyster Roast benefitting Family Service of the Piedmont. Can you believe it has been 27 years since Lin Amos came up with the idea of an outdoor oyster event in the midst of winter? People wondered whether anyone would come. Well, they did come. Each year over 600 people surge upon the lawn of a very charitable homeowner (sacrificing their lawn) to host the event. Lin Amos’ idea was so popular that for once Greensboro copied High Point!

Immediately, the oyster roast became known for its weather, whether it be snow, ice or frigid cold, and yet it was always, “The show must go on.” And so it was this year, albeit a “drive-thru” and the theme was “Oyster Roast Safe at Home.” Last year’s oyster roast was one of the last events before COVID mandates went into place.

I was disappointed that I could not attend (I was under the weather) this year’s “Safe at Home” drive-thru. It was held at Congdon Yards, and I missed greeting everyone I love seeing each year. As usual I depended upon my friend Jody Susong, chief advancement officer for Family Service, to fill me in on everything that I missed, including the food. The 27th oyster roast metamorphosed into a Low Country shrimp boil, however it did include one luscious-looking baked oyster on the half shell.

It was all cooked right there at Congdon Yards. The shrimp boil sounded delicious and included andouille sausage, cobettes, corn muffins and a Bananas Foster bar for dessert! The major sponsors who normally go to the Pearls of the Oyster reception also received a bottle of wine courtesy of Katie and Paul Riggan of the Blue Group Restaurants.

Once again, the Presenting Sponsor was the Lenny Peters Foundation/Bethany Medical Center. Other major sponsors included The Pinnacle Bank, The Nikouyeh Foundation, and High Point Jewelers and Fine Gifts (Joe and Pam Hubay — Pam, I’m coming to see you at Plank Street Tavern soon!) donated a $7,000 diamond bracelet for the raffle).

Other major sponsors included Audrey Congdon and Jack Harris, Helen and David Congdon, Karen and Steve Pond, Ralph Lauren, Doug S. Witcher Foundation, The J. Richard and Sybel F. Hayworth Foundation, Marsh Furniture, Novant Health, and Wright Creative Branding and Labels.

Tom Campbell, president and CEO of Family Service, said that last year 20,000 individuals were served in Guilford County around issues of domestic violence, prevention of child abuse, helping people with behavioral health issues, substance use issues as well as helping individuals and families in financial crisis. Susong recalled a lady who came into one of the women’s shelters recently late at night with no hair. The staff inquired about her medical condition. It wasn’t a medical condition, she told them, “he held me down and shaved my head.” The staff went out the next day and bought her a wig.

A slight sidebar for kudos to Monty and Angela Fuller of Andersen Windows, who donated 36 custom-made windows for the women’s shelter in Greensboro. They both said, “We don’t think of it as ‘giving back’ but as ‘paying it forward.’ ”This is how Susong described the atmosphere of High Point “paying it forward”: It was a beautiful night — as far as High Point Oyster Roast weather goes. Everyone was so excited to be driving around Congdon Yards — yes, it was considered an “event.” In the COVID era, even driving around a building is considered an event. Event participants (passengers in the cars) started their evening on English Road being greeted by Oyster Roast Co-Chairs Chris Wynne and Kerr Ramsay and Family Service of High Point Foundation Chair Stephanie Beaver. In the background was the stunning entrance to Congdon Yards, lit up in all its grandeur just for this event. This event center is going to be a gem for High Point.

Participants continued around the building and were greeted by Shane Key, who provided music for their listening pleasure. Many cars stopped with windows rolled down to enjoy the music. Greeting them along the way were Hype, the mascot for the High Point Rockers, and Prowler, the mascot for High Point University. The kids (and adults) loved it. Next up, Tom Campbell, Family Service CEO, and staff greeted everyone at check-in. The next turn brought you to the Westchester Country Day School Band, 12o5, directed by Ken Mickey. While you listened to the music, you received your swag bag with lots of goodies, including a wonderful gift card to Blue Group restaurants, measuring spoon and recipe card (featuring the recipe from the baked oyster on the half shell that was included in the dinner box) from Pepper Moon, along with a whole host of fun items from top sponsors.

Just around the corner, you were greeted by none other than Family Service volunteers Courtney Best, Donna Cumby and Katie Riggan, who were handing insulated bags featuring major sponsors. The delicious meals were being dished up on-site by Pepper Moon under the direction of their trusty leader, Meredith Williams. As you made the final turn to leave the “event,” a huge LED display greeted you, showcasing the names of all the sponsors supporting Family Service and the Oyster Roast.

A special thank you to our partnership with Natalie Hyde of Aesthetic Images. They always help us capture the essence of the event through their photography.

It was a wonderful evening for Family Service and the clients. Thank you to all of the donors, sponsors and even the four-legged fur babies who tagged along with their humans who made the event such a success!