The Glue That Makes It All Work
Carolynne Zettler was raised in Sandusky. She and her husband spent some time in Boston before deciding that Lakewood was the place they wanted to call home, fifteen years ago. Carolynne is a Registered Nurse who works for Lakewood Hospital and the Help Me Grow program. We met Carolynne when she did our home visit just days after our daughter, Storey, was born. We invited Carolynne to participate in the “You Are Here” project at that time, when she suggested that we do the interview in our home as her favorite place in Lakewood. “Our house is your favorite place in Lakewood?” we asked. She responded that, while our house is nice, her favorite place is in the homes of all the families with newborn babies, where she regularly does her Help Me Grow site visits. We were happy to oblige her. Carolynne kindly shared with us what brought her and her husband to Lakewood and what has kept her here ever since.
“We appreciated the old homes," Carolynne told us. "My husband had done lots and lots of work on homes and it didn’t faze us at all to put up an addition – he knew how to do that stuff, so an older home didn’t scare us. We liked the wooden floors and the woodwork; we always liked that. But we knew also that we had to be near Cleveland because of my husband’s work as an environmental engineer. My in-laws lived in Lakewood, [so] we looked in Lakewood. I was just supposed to look at suburbs, and we were seeing so much, coming from the Boston prices. I started in Westlake and was like, 'Oh, we can afford this,' and we looked in Avon Lake, 'Oh, I can afford this.' I came to Lakewood and was like, 'WOW, we can really afford this!' And it was a good feeling. I convinced my husband to fly in to look at a house. We bought the house a week later and moved in that summer. So it was definitely affordable for a new family and you know, we never knew how long we would stay here but friends have kept us here.
"I think, for my family, the strongest part of Lakewood is people," Carolynne continued. "I came here pregnant, not knowing a soul other than my in-laws – I actually did know one other couple – and, being pregnant, you’re just looking for doctors, you’re looking for hospitals, you’re looking for groups... The one friend I did know here said, 'Oh, you have to look into Lakewood Early Child PTA!' And so I did. I had my daughter at Lakewood Hospital...I had all of my kids at Lakewood. When it was time for me to switch my careers, (because of family – I was working evenings but as the kids get older, that’s where their time was now, in the evening, going to practices and lessons), I went back to Lakewood Hospital, for Help Me Grow and doing home visits. I joined Lakewood Early Childhood PTA and met – still – my best friends. I met them with their “firsts,” as we call them, and now there’s four of us that had been in a play group for fifteen years, and we had 13 kids among us all and they’re just good friends. I think the more time you spend as a new mother with other women, there’s just so much you have in common, so many wonderful experiences and none of us worked full time, so we always had the really-needed experience of doing things together. That bonding and those friendships have kept us here. That, to me, is such a sense of community, and that’s what keeps you here. My daughter is now in high school, and Lakewood High School is huge, but there are so many people I know and so many people I trust."
"Every step along the way there’s fabulous opportunities: we’ve used the Beck Center, the Y, the library; so many neat opportunities for the kids and for the families," Carolynne concluded. "I think the more you do together, the more you play together, the more you interact with the community, that’s kind of the glue, I think, that makes it all work. And what I’m trying to do through my visits, I always recommend the Nursing Mom’s Chat and the Family Room. A first time mom, or somebody new to the community, they have no idea. So, that’s what I’m encouraging and looking forward to."
You Are Here* is a project that highlights what Lakewood residents think and feel about their city. Interested in participating? Please contact Jason or Kris at 216.221.5146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.