Guest Blogger: Sarah Milheim, Advancement & Communications Coordinator
Peter and Debbie Stephens first came to Lakeside Chautauqua 20 years ago in search of a place for their two boys during the impressionable years of their childhood.
“We pulled up with the boys in front of Sloopy’s and their eyes were as big as saucers,” shared Debbie. “The boys immediately asked, ‘Are we staying here? Can we go play?’”
The Stephens both knew that Lakeside was the right place. “We didn’t even stay the night, but thought, ‘Wow, this is it,’” the couple said.
Shortly after their trip, the Stephens purchased a corner lot that offered their boys room to play. The house was also in a great location near the Rhein Center.
“Lakeside is a special place to do things with our sons – golf, swim or attend programs; quality time giving them a more meaningful childhood,” Peter commented.
Over the years, family traditions were created, and Peter’s brother and sister-in-law purchased a cottage down the street.
“Lakeside became a center for our family,” said Peter. “We were from different parts of the Midwest, so Lakeside was a great place to get the family together.”
The Stephens spend the summer in Lakeside and have started to celebrate the New Year here. Debbie and Peter described Lakeside as, “Wonderful. We adore it. It is a portal that gives you a look into heaven and back in time.”
Peter is the Executive Director of the Antique & Classic Boat Society and also a member of the Lakeside Wooden Boat Society. He has volunteered his skills to help improve the Lakeside Wooden Boat Show. The weekend of the Lakeside Wooden Boat Show & Plein Air Art Festival is the couple’s favorite event during the summer.
Both Debbie and Peter come from a background of serving on boards and philanthropic giving. Debbie is co-president of a family foundation. Their youngest son is following in their footsteps and serves on the board for the same family foundation.
Peter is currently serving on the Lakeside Chautauqua Foundation Board.
“We want Lakeside to continue on,” Peter shared. “We are big believers in the mission, the four pillars and the Chautauqua tradition.”
The couple has taken time to plan a gift to the Lakeside Endowment. Many Lakesiders, like the Stephens, have already made it a priority to protect the Chautauqua experience by planning a deferred endowment gift.
“We want future generations to benefit from Lakeside,” shared the Stephens.
Gifts to the Lakeside Endowment not only last, but grow in size. Lakeside only spends four percent of the interest the endowment earns each year, which leaves the principal intact and builds the fund.
Lakeside must grow endowment funds in order to achieve its strategic goals and to protect the Chautauqua experience for many more generations. Approximately $144,000 is dispersed from the endowment to support the signature Chautauqua program and the Lakeside experience each fiscal year.
Lakesiders are invited to join The Endowment for Life Initiative by planning a gift for the future of Lakeside. Request a ‘Planning a Gift for Lakeside’ booklet by contacting Gretchen Colón, vice president of Advancement & Communications, at (419) 798-5396 or gcolon@ lakesideohio.com.