Guest Blogger: Sarah Milheim, Advancement & Communications Coordinator

Peter and Debbie Stephens first came to Lakeside Chautauqua 20 years ago in search of a plStephens_Week_1_Patterson3002ace 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@