Staff Blogger: Josh Hilgenberg, Advancement/Communications Intern

0272RL1-010Jim and Betty Jane Young made Lakeside a priority for their children.

A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Jim’s occupation required Betty Jane and their children to move constantly, never living anywhere more than two to four years. Their long list of residencies includes Texas, Arizona and even Germany, but still they came back to Lakeside every year, and continue to – their 21 family members were all making their way here as the interview took place.

The couple explains to me that their children never really had a hometown because of Jim’s work in the Air Force. “Where are you from?” Jim asked me. After my answer, he explained that his children stumbled answering that question, which is like turning on a light switch to me. The only answer they consistently give – Lakeside.

The Youngs know that to nourish opportunities like this for their grandchildren, and Lakeside’s grandchildren, improvements must be made. Then, the Pool & Wellness Campaign arrived – what Jim calls “a culmination of response to a need.”

This couple has been vying for a pool for years, and for reasons greater than simply the algae invasion. Even a young Betty Jane asked for a pool when she came to Lakeside as a child.

In fact, a Lakeside brochure from the 1950s envisioned a pool within the gates of the Chautauqua community, and sometime ago, Lakesiders were asked to sign a petition supporting a swimming pool.

It was, ironically, thanks to the algae in Lake Erie that put the plans for a Pool & Wellness Center in motion. The Youngs say it stimulated a conversation, which led to an idea. That idea grew into a movement, and today we have a campaign.

Special thanks to Jim for serving on the Pool & Wellness Community Taskforce, a group that helped gather information, review input and data, and compiled information about community swimming pools and wellness centers.

Jim and Betty Jane are also volunteering their time to serve on the Campaign Leadership Team, a group helping with the Pool & Wellness Campaign. We are thankful for their time and contributions throughout this process.

The opportunities provided by the Pool & Wellness Campaign are infinitely wider than an alternative to swimming though, the Youngs tell me.

The energetic couple agrees that a Pool & Wellness Center is the piece missing from Lakeside. This facility would serve as a gathering place for discussion and sharing between all Lakesiders, from renters and cottage owners, to hotel stayers and day visitors. Jim insists the venue’s significance is vastly understated. It fosters a multigenerational open forum in which relationships similar to the ones the Youngs’ kids made.

It’s not just about the health aspect for the Youngs. It’s a long-term investment, not only for the two of them, but for their Lakeside grandchildren. Betty Jane is adamant in telling me Lakeside is a family. Their friends’ children are their children. Lakesiders’ children are their children – their responsibility and their future.

Looking into the future of “the Lakeside family,” the Youngs came to the decision to make a commitment to the Pool & Wellness Campaign over three years. They hope that its impact sees generations of Lakesiders forming beautiful and blossoming friendships that in turn touch further generations.

With these young souls in mind, Jim and Betty Jane encourage everyone to take a moment and consider the lives you can nourish with a responsible commitment to the campaign.

“The Pool & Wellness Campaign is second only to Hoover in importance.” Jim points out that even in the face of the Great Depression, Lakesiders were able to come together and build Hoover Auditorium.

This dedication and commitment is what defines Lakesiders, and the Youngs are right when they remind us that this is exactly the kind of support the campaign needs to keep the ball rolling.

To support the Pool & Wellness Campaign, visit to make an online donation, visit the Legacy House at 217 Walnut Ave., email or call (419) 798-5396.