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Raise a glass to new friends

Created date

June 22nd, 2010

When looking for stimulating conversation, good food, and a festive atmosphere, those living at Ashby Ponds head to the popular happy hour socials, held every Tuesday and Friday afternoon at the Cardinal Clubhouse. Complete with cocktails, snacks, and music, the gatherings attract as many as 50 people each week for fun and friendship.

Reaching out

[caption id="attachment_12550" align="alignright" width="280" caption="From left: Rev. Carroll Yingling, Ruth Morgan, Bobby Fiser, and Hal Githens at Ashby Ponds happy hour. (Photo by John Kraft)"][/caption] In theEricksontradition of resident-run activities, John Kraft and his wife, Dottie, initiatedAshby Ponds first happy hour not long after the campus opened in 2008. Our primary reason to start the happy hours was the same as the reason we started a Wednesday morning coffee hour, and that is to meet and get to know our neighbors, he says. The happy hour became an instant success. Before we moved toAshby Ponds, we did some research on new condos and learned that if the condo begins with a good set of activities, then it would be successful in meeting the social needs of its residents. We assumed that a similar situation would be true for a retirement community and we wanted this to be a great success. Happy hours are only one small aspect of what makes this a great community.

Lasting friendships

I look forward to happy hour for conversation, saysAshby Pondsresident Irene Boublik. It provides an opportunity to socialize and introduce ourselves to each other in a pleasant, relaxed, congenial environment. [caption id="attachment_12553" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Phyllis Lynne felt welcome at a happy hour the day she moved to Ashby Ponds. (Photo by John Kraft)"][/caption] Phyllis Lynne and her husband, Harvey, agree. We attended our first happy hour the same day we arrived atAshby Ponds, says Mrs. Lynne. We were spending the night in a guest room waiting for our furniture to be delivered the next morning. Dottie Kraft [and others at the happy hour] really made us feel right at home. During each happy hour, the bar is stocked with high-quality beverages at a reasonable price, and participants enjoy both alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks. Guests are also invited to bring their own wine. Live music is often playing in the background. Tony Greenfield, the son ofAshby Pondsresident Carolyn Greenfield, is one of the most frequent performers. He plays the guitar and sings popular folk songs. Roz Radcliffe s grandson has played the piano for the gathering several times and even arranged for his high school combo to play. My grandson Josh plays at many different places and lives nearby in Bethesda, Md., says Radcliffe. I suggested that he come and play and he agreed. It was a very proud moment for me, his parents, and him. He feels he s not only entertaining but participating in a good cause.

Sharing with friends

The best part about the happy hours is that they provide a place to relax, laugh, and enjoy our home, says Mrs. Lynne. Many happy hour regulars also enjoy bringing friends and houseguests to the gatherings. These visitors are always welcomed with open arms. It s a great way to introduce friends and family toAshby Ponds, says Mr. Kraft. The happy hours are fun and it s a happy crowd, says Radcliffe. It s also a great place to meet people, but I think any place atAshby Pondsis a good place to meet new friends.

'Sea stories' on tap

G. H. Hork Dimon Jr. and his wife, Kristjana, find thatAshby Ponds weekly happy hours provide a wonderful opportunity to socialize not only with new friends but also with fellow Naval Academy graduates. When we moved in, a classmate, whom I didn t know, lived here and knocked on my door to welcome us on board, says Mr. Dimon. He d spotted my name on a pending-arrival list. A few weeks later, I mentioned to him that I had uncovered another Naval Academy graduate here and jokingly said that we should get together. We started actively looking for other Navy graduates, came up with a fourth, and had our first muster shortly thereafter at anAshby PondsFriday happy hour. Since that first happy hour meeting, Mr. Dimon has found three more Naval Academy graduates, all of whom are invited to attend the Naval Academy Happy Hour on the second Friday of each month. Academy graduates have a special bond that is difficult to describe, says Mr. Dimon. So it s always wonderful to meet together, reminisce about those four years at the academy, and compare experiences after graduation. The sea stories get better with the years!