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Who needs Hallmark when you have Henrikson?

Ashby Ponds resident starts greeting card and stamp group

Created date

April 23rd, 2013

In an age of emails and texting, receiving a handwritten card or note holds a special place in the hearts of many. Members of the greeting card and stamp group at Ashby Ponds, an Erickson Living community in Ashburn, Va., go one step further, crafting beautiful, handmade cards. It s a special treat to receive a card, says community member Marilyn Henrikson, who leads the group. I ve found much joy making cards for all occasions. And it s even a bigger treat to know that whoever receives the card will feel special knowing that someone was thinking of them.

Gift from the heart

A seasoned pro, Marilyn spent more than 20 years designing and stamping cards. I became really involved with the activity while I was a caregiver for my mother, she says. I was able to work on the cards while staying close to her in case she needed me. Shortly after moving to Ashby Ponds in June 2011, Marilyn learned that a group of neighbors were designing cards to sell at the annual holiday bazaar. I went to one of their meetings and asked how I could help out, she says. Over the next few months, we made a variety of cards for many different occasions, from the holidays to birthdays.

New idea takes root

After the 2011 holiday bazaar, Marilyn was asked to lead the card-making effort for the following year. I agreed, she says. I soon learned that I would be responsible for storing the cards that we did not sell, she says. I thought it was silly to let the cards sit in a closet for a year, especially since the cards were not just for the holidays. I d rather have the cards in someone s hand. Marilyn approached the dining services staff with her idea to sell the cards during the monthly soup and bread sale. Everyone was on board, and we ve been very successful, says Marilyn. Once a month, I sell the cards and make sure to let everyone know that they can purchase cards any time. All they have to do is let me know what they need. Each card, regardless of design or occasion, is sold for $1, and all of the profits are donated to the Benevolent Care Fund.

Talent sharing

In order to keep up with the demand from the monthly sales, Marilyn started the greeting card and stamp group. I was in a similar club for 15 years, she says. I have friends from that club who live nearby and agreed to come to Ashby Ponds to help get the group up and running. On the third Wednesday of every month, Marilyn and her friends teach the art of stamping and card making. Coming up with a new idea or card theme takes the most time, says Marilyn, but it is also the most fun. There are a lot of ideas on the Internet. I enjoy seeing what others have done and using the materials I have to make the design my own. The group crafts the majority of the cards from recycled materials. Like any hobby, sometimes the amount of stuff you accumulate gets out of hand, says Marilyn. Our group is very fortunate because my friends from my former club donate their old supplies as well as cards that were started but never finished. It s fun to play around and figure out what to do with the material. It really gets the imagination flowing.

Private studio

Marilyn estimates that she spends eight to ten hours each week working on the cards. She transformed the second bedroom in her popular Stafford-style apartment home into a crafts studio. This is where the magic happens, she says. Each week, I receive phone calls from neighbors asking for a particular card. I recently received requests for pet sympathy cards. It makes me feel very pleased to be able to accommodate these requests and know that someone s heart may be cheered when they are grieving. Marilyn s card collection now consists of 34 different categories, from animals to weddings. Currently, the group is busy creating graduation and military appreciation cards. Many of the intricate designs include a variety of special details, including stamps, ribbons, buttons, fabric, lace, and other items. The hard work is paying off. Last year, the greeting card and stamp group donated $775 to the resident care fund. And now, less than halfway through 2013, the group has already raised almost $500. It s a win-win all around, says Marilyn. We find enjoyment from making the cards. The people who buy the cards feel good knowing that their money is helping others. And those who receive the cards feel special knowing someone is thinking of them. It s working out wonderfully.