What first started as the perfect midpoint between siblings’ families eventually turned into the perfect summer community for Tom and Debbie Jones. The Joneses are currently finishing up their 39th summer at Lakeside.
In 1984 the Joneses lived in Ohio and were looking for a place to connect with Tom’s sister’s family living in Michigan. They decided to split the distance down the middle and discovered Lakeside. One week of summer fun with their family turned into two years and became five years and it just kept growing. They rented the same cottage for 20 years before eventually purchasing their first cottage on Cherry Avenue.
Debbie noted how important Lakeside was to her. “Lakeside made it so easy to talk and connect with our family of three generations under one roof,” she said. “There are irreplaceable memories of our kids playing with their cousins, and we love seeing that continue with our grandchildren.”
The main themes found within Debbie’s favorite Lakeside memories are community and relationships. As an example, each summer their neighborhood street has The Vlasic Classic. Neighbors shut the street down and play pickleball, cornhole, and ping pong, listen to live music and gather around tables to enjoy a shared feast.
“We dance under the stars with all of our neighbors. It is truly magical,” said Debbie. “The world is chaotic and crazy, and these moments are a breath of fresh air.”
Another important memory consists of Debbie’s husband, Tom, baptizing family members in Lake Erie many years ago. Friends and family gathered to celebrate this informal sacramental moment. Debbie recalls this as a truly “holy moment.”
Debbie also enjoys hearing the sound of her four granddaughters singing God Squad songs at the top of their lungs on their golf cart.
She has volunteered throughout their 39 years at Lakeside by helping at various events, and Tom has helped serve on Lakeside’s board. Debbie notes that her true gift is hospitality. Scores of Lakesiders have gathered on her porch.
“I love to use that gift in my home,” she said. “I love that I can create a relaxed, safe place for Lakesiders to unwind or have important conversations.”
She also raved about the incredible programs and activities that Lakeside offers families, such as pickleball, tennis, shuffleboard, water activities, arts programs, educational lectures, and more. Though programming is a big draw for the Joneses, the most important part of Lakeside is the relationship factor, which Debbie notes has even made her own family stronger. She hopes that each family who enters the Lakeside gates will leave better for it.
“Lakeside is the kind of a place where you can just breathe. I am so grateful I’ve seen Lakeside change for the better but keep the pillars of Religion, Recreation, Arts, Education and traditions instilled.
“It really is my favorite place,” Debbie concluded.