Submitted by Patrick Juhasz.
I live in Lakewood. I work in a different city.
This combination means that the topic of where I reside comes up often. When I answer that question, I am almost always met with a variety of comments, typically sarcastic in nature, and rarely ever positive. Years ago, this response was so commonplace that it had no real impact on me. As time has progressed, however, my reaction has changed.
My wife and I purchased our home in the Oakbrook neighborhood 6 years ago. At that time, even I had the narrative in mind that it might not be the best idea. After all, throughout my time in and out of Pierce County, I had heard terms like “Lake-hood” and all about the trials and tribulations of the area. Even during my duty assignment in the Air Force at JBLM, the warnings of “right outside the base” were frequent.
Despite these preconceived notions and largely thanks to the guidance of a real estate agent, who would later became a dear friend and mentor, we bought a rambler in what appeared to be a really nice neighborhood. On a side note, this man also happened to be possibly the City of Lakewood’s biggest advocate.
Since then I have fully integrated into the Lakewood community. We have fixed up the house we purchased, removed some of the shag carpet and popcorn ceiling, added a bountiful vegetable garden, and filled it with two beautiful children. I have two-stepped with my daughter at the city’s father-daughter dance, enjoyed performances at the Lakewood Playhouse, chased my son around every park in town, and helped my daughter catch her first fish at the Ray Evans Memorial Fishing Event.
As a family we have read books at the library, walked around Waughop Lake, and had a blast at the Farmer’s Market, SummerFest, and countless other events. Our children have attended daycare here and my wife has taught in our school district. I have also attended city council meetings, met with some of Lakewood’s finest police officers and West Pierce firefighters, been a part of a city advisory committee, and helped develop a now thriving neighborhood association.
In doing these things, I have made amazing friends and acquaintances and have developed a strong sense of pride in this city. The work that has been done by our community members and city leaders to make Lakewood more inviting and safe in recent years combined with the vision going forward have solidified my desire to continue to be involved and raise my family here.
Now when people ask me where I live, my response is simple. I smile big and with beaming pride say, “I’m from Lakewood”! Any of those common, unflattering responses are met with confident facts about a place that I am privileged to represent. That is why, today I am happy to be #LakewoodProud! I will continue to wear that badge with honor and I hope that we can all feel great about calling Lakewood our home.