Community Foundation thrives despite COVID-19

·3 min read

Jul. 24—HIGH POINT — The High Point Community Foundation experienced an exceptionally strong year despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to an annual report foundation President Paul Lessard provided trustees.

"It is impossible to talk about 2020 without discussing the pandemic and its impact upon our community," Lessard said. "I have always believed one's character is revealed in challenging times and, in so many ways, our foundation came of age during the COVID-19 crisis."

In March 2020, when the first business restrictions and shutdowns related to the pandemic happened, Lessard recalled thinking that this type of crisis is exactly why the foundation exists.

"I'm proud to say we reacted quickly, we made strategically sound decisions and were able to leverage, not just money, but our relationships to meet High Point's urgent unmet needs," Lessard said.

John Kennett and the Heart of High Point Committee provided leadership as the foundation kept its doors open for business and allocated $200,000 for community needs in less than two weeks, Lessard said. In August, Joe Blosser and the foundation's Annual Grants Committee expedited the grants process to provide another $400,000 toward COVID-related basic needs. In addition, the foundation's Donor Advised Funds invested generously in those who were hit hardest, Lessard said.

"This past year has also proven to be a historical milestone for us when we exceeded $100 million in assets under management, a goal we set back at our very first annual meeting in the summer of 1998," Lessard said. "A great deal of credit goes to Barry Safrit and the Investment Committee, who have done an exceptional job managing and growing our money."

In addition to that $100 million, the HPCF is managing another $11 million for the Downtown Development Project and nearly $10 million raised for Say Yes Guilford, which continues to pay college scholarships for local students.

"It is both rare and fulfilling to be a part of an endeavor that makes this degree of impact and will go on so long after we are gone," Lessard said. "It represents 24 years of wise and faithful stewardship and a tremendous amount of God's grace. I could not be prouder of our founding executive board, our trustees past and present, and our donors who have believed in us."

Lessard also cited the leadership of chairman Harvey Lowd as well as other board members who supported moving the foundation's offices into the Congdon Yards Plant 7 building during the past year.

"This was the first time we have spent significant money on our office, and I'm proud to say we did it without invading our endowment assets," Lessard said. "Thanks to a generous challenge grant from a faithful donor, we raised the funds through gifts from our extended foundation family."

An open house in June allowed the public a look at the new offices, and a smaller event is planned for September to unveil a tribute to the founding executive committee members and their families.

cingram@hpenews.com — 336-888-3534 — @HPEcinde

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