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Birds of a feather flock together

Friendships form on the top floor of Red Robin View

Created date

August 20th, 2014
man holding a t-shirt

“The great thing about Erickson Living is the climate for creating interest groups and fostering social interaction,” says Ashby Ponds community member Pete Bellaria. 

One such group, known as the Red Robin View Penthouse, is the first of its kind at Ponds, an Erickson Living community in Ashburn, Va.

Pete, along with all the other residents of the fourth and highest floor in Red Robin View, enjoy a unique camaraderie that includes monthly meals together, happy hours, and participation on a bocce team. Red Robin View is Ashby Ponds’ sxith residence building.

“Since we all moved in around the same time, we were eager to meet our neighbors and make new friends,” says Kim Kimiecik. “We quickly bonded to form a cohesive, cooperative, and truly caring group. There are no strangers on the fourth floor of Red Robin View.”

An idea hatches

Following the opening of Red Robin View in the spring of 2012, two new residents to the fourth floor, John and Nancy Oliphant, began jokingly referring to their floor as the “penthouse.” Eager to meet their fellow penthouse neighbors, they organized a floor social on September 4, 2012.

“We were having so much fun that the conversation quickly turned to ‘When can we do this again?’” says John.

Fellow penthouse resident Cecelia Lazzaro suggested the organization of a series of open houses to help her neighbors further get to know one another.

“As new arrivals at Red Robin View, we all had been busy with moving in, choosing upgrades, and decorating,” says Cecelia. “It was while discussing these things that the idea came up for the ‘apartment crawl’ open houses.”

“We opened the doors to our apartment homes and, as red robins are known to do, migrated from one to the other,” says Nancy. 

Penthouse community members chose one day each month during October, November, and December 2012 to visit approximately six apartment homes. After each tour, they met in the fourth floor lounge, now nicknamed the “penthouse lounge,” to enjoy a festive social hour.

“These early open houses not only opened apartment home doors to view the individual decorating and upgrades, they also opened the doors to our friendships,” says Cecelia.

Spreading their wings

With new friendships taking root, the Red Robin View Penthouse members searched for new ways to spend time together and foster their growing bond.

John and Nancy were quickly labeled group leaders for their dedication and hard work in planning penthouse events. 

John developed a monthly newsletter titled the The Turdus Migratorius Flyer, to keep all the members up to date on the growing list of social events.

“In 2013, we gathered together seven times with the highlight being a migration to the Fisherman’s Pond Gazebo in September to celebrate our one-year anniversary as a group,” says John.  

Members enjoyed cocktails and snacks on a beautiful fall afternoon.

“We are a very close group, like a big family,” says Paula Rivera. “We enjoy our friendship and togetherness.”

The following month, the group decided to follow up their fun-filled happy hours in the penthouse lounge with a dinner in Ashby Ponds’ private dining room.

“The best part of getting together is the laughter,” says Cecelia. “It’s contagious. We enjoy sharing stories about our travel adventures and everyday concerns.”

Leaving the nest

In the fall of 2013, members of the Red Robin View Penthouse decided to leave their comfortable nests and test their athletic prowess in the form of a bocce team. 

“We are currently the only team in the Ashby Ponds Bocce League in which all the players are from the same floor,” says John. 

In preparation for the 2014 spring bocce season, the Red Robin View Penthouse members decided to have t-shirts made for their team. 

“We enjoy participating in our own sports team and wearing our distinctive Red Robin Penthouse t-shirts,” says Kim. 

Additionally, over the last year the penthouse members have uncovered the magic of a “gremlin,” who places treats and trinkets on the shelves outside residents’ doors on holidays and special occasions.

“It just goes to show what a great, fun place this is to live,” says Kim.

Fruits of their labor

News of the unique bond between the penthouse residents spread quickly though the Ashby Ponds community. 

“We’ve learned that other floors in Red Robin View have begun their own traditions, enjoying luncheons and happy hours together,” says Kathleen Russell. 

Recognizing the difference the Red Robin View Penthouse made in their moves to Ashby Ponds, the members hope that similar groups will arise throughout the community as well as other Erickson Living communities.

“A group like ours would be most beneficial to new arrivals,” says Cecelia. “It provides an opportunity to get to know your neighbors, share concerns and resources, and have fun. This camaraderie with neighbors soon fosters a sense of home.”

For their part, John and Nancy are thrilled that their casual “penthouse” comment became a treasured addition to their lives.

“We have felt blessed from day one to have moved into the penthouse,” says John. “Everyone is so appreciative and kind to us in so many ways, whether it be a hug, a toast, or little surprises on our shelf.”  

Neighbor Norman Klombers agrees: “It is a great treat to discover that complete strangers can become special neighbors and friends in very short order.”