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Hats Off    |    by
Column dedicated to sharing news about community activities, service projects, and other events that are important to the life of the residents of our "mountain."

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published on 11/30/2001

December Hats Off to Signal Mountain

By staff writer

Last month I told you about the wonderful opportunities the Signal Mountain Welfare Council provides for us as citizens to support our communities. During the month of December another very special project is worth mentioning. On December 15, at the Signal Mountain Middle School Cafeteria/Auditorium, approximately 85-90 Christmas baskets will be filled with food for needy families. Volunteers are needed to package the Christmas baskets and deliver them. Please consider helping with this worthy project by either making a donation or helping with the packaging and delivering. According to Ellen Heavilon, President of the Signal Mountain Welfare Council, packaging begins at 9:30 AM and delivering at 11:30 AM.. HATS OFF to the many different churches, organizations, school classes, and Scout troops who volunteer to donate food and their time, and the Welfare Council for making it all possible.

Every second Tuesday, the Literature Department of the Signal Mountain Community Guild meets at Signal Mountain Town Hall in the Guild Room. Do you know what the Signal Mountain Community Guild is? The Guild has been a part of Signal Mountain since its organization on June 6, 1928. In 1948, members divided the responsibilities assumed by the Guild into different departments. The annual tea for Newcomers was changed to an annual coffee and was sponsored by the Newcomers Department, which was established in 1976. It became a separate organization in 1995. Many welfare groups formed on the mountain so an organization called the Signal Mountain Community Forces was established to prevent overlapping with other organizations. That organization eventually became the Signal Mountain Welfare Council, of which the Guild is a member. Did you know that with aid from the Guild, the Signal Mountain Recreational Program was started by Mrs. Mary Heindel? Many of the original departments no longer exist. However, the Guild is still responsible, among other things, for the sale of the Signal Mountain Telephone Directory, the Guild Dogwood Luncheon where the “Woman of the Year” award is presented, and the presentation of the Service Award to a deserving student at Signal Mountain Middle School. Every woman on Signal Mountain is eligible for membership in the Guild if she so desires. There are no dues. The Guild meets eight times a year. The current president is Martha Fanning. The director for the Literature Department this year is Jane Parks. The Literature Department meets nine times a year, both between September and May. Many women today work out of the home and those that do not are just as busy. But are we too busy to support the very organizations that made our community what it is today? Can we not take one or two hours a month to get involved? If not by attending the meetings, then by supporting one of the ongoing projects the Guild provides? HATS OFF to the Signal Mountain Community Guild for being there for us when it counts.

Occasionally we come across an event that has been around for so long that even the oldest participants can’t remember when the program began. A long time ago, maybe forty or fifty years ago a group of “Senior Citizens” gathered at the Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church. It was called Signal Fellowship because you didn’t have to be a member of the church to participate. Once a month residents meet for lunch and a program and anyone sixty years or older is invited to attend. The cost for lunch is $3. Susan Robb, the current director, says to call the church at and ask for extension 3220. Everyone meets at the church from 11:00 until 1:00, usually the fourth Tuesday of each month. This month, because of the holiday season, the Signal Fellowship/Highlanders will meet on Tuesday, December 11. Director of Christian Education, Margaret Ferguson invites any resident of Signal Mountain, who might be interested in this loving and caring opportunity to bond with other senior adults, to come join in the fun. HATS OFF to the Signal Fellowship/Highlanders for providing a great opportunity for all “Seniors” on our mountain.

At the November Town Council meeting, Mayor Jim Althaus reminded the citizens in the audience that one of the highest marks made in an independent survey several years ago about what people liked best about Signal Mountain was it’s SAFTEY. Aren’t we lucky to live in such a great community where feeling safe is a reality?
After September 11, 2001, our world changed. From that day forward we see things from a different perspective. The terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon affected us in more ways than one. However, one thing that may have changed for the better is how families have grown closer. Now that America is at war, parents of grown sons that are of draft age need more hugs. Parents of little children are finding ways to answer questions without frightening those too young to understand the impact of the tragedy. Young people who have never faced a war are confused and fear the future and the uncertainty of it. According to Julie Baumgardner, Executive Director of First Things First in Chattanooga, families are focusing on connecting and reconciliation, by finding ways to spend more time and mending fences with their families and friends. People are reassessing their priorities. If there is one thing we should do, Julie says it is, “To live as if every day is a gift and then act on it.”
The month of December is the twelfth and final month of the year. In the calendar of our minds it marks the end of one part of our life as we face the New Year. Odd (or not-so-odd), that the month of December also has three special holidays - two Holy and one secular, but all three very important to the welfare of families. For Christian families the season of Advent invites families to prepare for the coming of the Christ child. Some families use Advent calendars opening a door each day, and then doing something special to mark that day as they count down to Christmas day, December 25th. December 26 to January 1 is the African-American/Pan-American celebration of Kwanzaa, which means “first fruits” in the African language Swahili. It is a celebration of family, community, and culture with seven principles or beliefs that people of all heritages would benefit from – unity, self-determination, working together, supporting each other, purpose, creativity, and faith. Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah on December 10th this year. Hanukkah means rededication and symbols and rituals of the holiday demonstrate an annual renewal of Jewish faith and practices. Families celebrate Hanukkah in the synagogues as well as in their homes. You don’t have to be Jewish, or Christian, or African-American to honor these traditions.
•One way families can learn more about these celebrations is to check out Chattanooga’s Hunter Museum. According to museum’s administrator Eileen Henry-Haun in the November issue of “Southern Living Magazine”, the museum has a great holiday program for families celebrating Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Christmas or you can go to my Fun for Kids Section.
•If you want to learn more about ways families can connect, look for the new “Family Connection”, a bi-monthly magazine published by First Things First. The very first issue had an article by Signal Mountain resident, Karlette Baker. As residents of a great safe community, we on Signal Mountain are lucky to be connected to the larger community of Chattanooga.
I say HATS OFF to the people at First Things First for supporting families, HATS OFF to the Hunter Museum, and HATS OFF to the families on Signal Mountain for honoring the traditions and rituals we celebrate that bring our families closer.

I want to thank everyone for the wonderful support I have received since I started writing this column. Please continue to call me at or contact me by e-mail at with information and dates of meetings, events and activities that relate to our mountain. Happy Holidays and Peace to all.