Today is National Non-Profit Day! And while our city has so many wonderful non-profits we could point to and celebrate today, we want to recognize one specific family who has made non-profit work in High Point a huge part of their life’s work: Paul and Jayne Lessard.
There are some members of our community that have become such pillars that it’s hard for us to imagine the city without them. When we think of them, we think of the ways they have planted deep roots, started community-focused initiatives, or given of their time to make High Point a better home for us all. One of those families that instantly comes to mind is the Lessards. Paul and Jayne Lessard have spent a good portion of their lives serving the city of High Point in a variety of capacities.
From the High Point Community Foundation that provides resources to many community endeavors, to High Point’s YoungLife college and high school ministry, to the Lighthouse Project, which brings positive role models to speak in local schools, the Lessards have been at the helm of launching important efforts to serve and better our lives.
Along with their amazing contributions to our city, Paul and Jayne have a long list of extraordinary life circumstances (from saving the life of a woman on the brink of drowning to nearly being attacked by a lion!), but if you ask them what always brings them back to High Point, they’d answer quickly: the heart and spirit of our community.
Read on to hear the Lessards’ perspective and story on their lives in High Point.
Q. What do you love High Point?
A. “I came to High Point in the mid-70s to attend High Point University on a soccer scholarship and I have many fond memories of my time at the school and on the soccer pitch,” Paul says. As a first-generation college student, Paul’s passion for education was founded through his time at HPU. He also soon realized that High Point would come to feel more like home than anywhere else. “As a Marine Corps brat, I had never lived anywhere longer than two years until I got to college,” Paul explains. “It was the first real home I’d ever had.” Jayne Lessard grew up in Winston-Salem and was active in Reynolds High School’s ministry, YoungLife, a Christian organization that partners local high schools with local college student leaders to form faith-centered relationships. The Lessards soon came to form long-term friendships through their YoungLife connections and even formed the charter club in High Point.
Q. What neighborhood do you call home? What is special about the area?
A. “We used to live in the Heathgate development off Lexington Avenue while our kids were growing up and they went to Northwood Elementary School which was a wonderful experience,” Paul says. “We loved the neighborhood for 17 years, but when our kids left for college we decided to scale down to a townhouse. We now live at the Village at Cherokee Hills, and we really enjoy it because it’s like this quiet little hidden community in the forest that also happens to be right in the middle of High Point.”
The Lessards appreciate their proximity to Rich Fork Preserve—their patio is oh so close to the natural world of High Point.
Q. What are your tips on ways to best experience the city?
A. “We used to love to run all over High Point with our golden retrievers,” Paul says, “and I’ve always thought that was the best way to see the community.”
Today, the Lessards spend most of their time outside walking or riding bikes through different parts of the city. They especially enjoy spending time in Uptowne High Point.
Q. For the Win: What is your biggest “win” from living in High Point?
A. The Lessards cite their lifelong friendships as their favorite part of High Point living.
“I still have lunch with my college soccer coach, Woody Gibson, and my first boss at Furniture Today, Phil Watson,” Paul says. “I often see grown men who I coached on the soccer fields over 30 years ago with the local soccer club.” Jayne shares a Bible study group with women who she has shared life with for more than two decades. “I don’t think you find long-term, intimate relationships like this in a bigger city. These are the real treasures of life,” Paul remarks. “High Point is still very much a small town with big city attributes.”
Q. What High Pointer do you most admire?
A.“Jayne’s favorite High Pointer would be her granddaughter Haddie who loves her GJ,” Paul jokes. “I have three men in my life who have had a profound impact upon me over the years: Bill Horney, Jim Morgan, and Nido Qubein. They have taught me how to lead with integrity and love others well.”
Q. Favorite Restaurant?
Q. Place to grab a drink?
A. The milkshakes at Mayberry’s
Q. Hidden Gem?
A. Corner Grille out on Lexington Avenue.
Q. What should High Point’s motto be?
A. “High Point… For good… For all… Forever.”
Q. How will you leave High Point better than you found it?
A. The Lessards goal is to leave the High Point and the High Point Community Foundation ample funds to continue serving the needs of our community.
“I love the idea that hundreds of years from now there will be leaders, like we currently have on our Board of Trustees, who will know, love and serve High Point faithfully, and will continue to look after her and always act in the best interests of all of our citizens.”
Keep discovering our High Points,
The HPD Team
Photography by Maria West Photography