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Funding the future

Ashby Ponds residents help tomorrow’s generation grow

Created date

September 1st, 2016
Student employees (from left) Mariam Abdulle, Melanny Fernandez, Michael Hornberger, Michaela Hatton, Jessica Beanland, Alex Perryman, and Kender Poore at the Ashby Ponds Scholars’ Fund award ceremony.

Student employees (from left) Mariam Abdulle, Melanny Fernandez, Michael Hornberger, Michaela Hatton, Jessica Beanland, Alex Perryman, and Kender Poore at the Ashby Ponds Scholars’ Fund award ceremony.

This fall, seven high school employees at Ashby Ponds, an Erickson Living community in Ashburn, Va., will begin the pursuit of higher education thanks to the generosity of the community members they serve.

“Ashby Ponds residents love their student dining staff,” says community member Mary Terry, chair of the Philanthropy Committee that raises funds for the scholarships. “We all derive great pleasure from being served by them and learning about their future plans, including where they are going to college. I believe they also learn so much from us as well.”

This year’s campaign raised $105,400 for the student employees as the result of several community events, which included a concert, pecan sale, and the annual Duck Derby held in April.

“It’s a communitywide effort,” says Mary. “Not only do our individual residents raise money for the campaign, but our staff, clubs, and activities [bingo, woodworking, Treasure Chest] contribute to this very important cause.” 

Since the Scholars’ Fund began in 2010, generous Ashby Ponds residents have raised $348,000 in support of 87 exemplary high school employees who demonstrate a commitment to serving the Ashby Ponds community.

Making the grade

To be eligible for an Ashby Ponds Scholars’ Fund scholarship, students must work at least 1,000 hours at the community during their junior and senior years of high school, achieve satisfactory grades, and maintain a disciplinary record free of adverse actions at their high school. The $4,000 scholarships are paid directly to the college or trade school of the student’s choice. Recipients must plan on attending a college or professional school full time in the fall.

“I enjoy serving the residents and seeing their happiness when I’m their server,” says Jessica Beanland, a recent Heritage High School graduate who will attend Johnson & Wales in the fall. “I am very grateful to the residents for their generosity, and I look forward to coming back to work at Ashby Ponds during my breaks from school.”

Real-world realities

For the scholarship winners, paying for college provides a glimpse of the financial realities they face in adulthood.

Student employee restaurant host Odyssey Armitage first received a Scholars’ Fund scholarship last fall and continued working at Ashby Ponds while attending her freshman year at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA). Since that time, she’s picked up additional responsibilities and now serves as the dining services administrative assistant. 

“The scholarship helps significantly,” she says. “I’m a science major, and my textbooks are extremely costly. So far, the scholarship has helped cover every textbook purchase I’ve made.”

Armitage looks forward to completing her studies at NOVA and transferring to George Mason University next fall.

“The support I’ve received from the Ashby Ponds residents is what pushes me through class every single day,” she says. “I think about how hard they worked for their money and how they graciously donated money to help me continue my education. Though working and going to school can sometimes be stressful, the residents assure me that they are proud of me and that I can make it through my busy days.”

Ties that bind

The generosity of the Ashby Ponds community toward the student employees extends above and beyond the awarding of scholarships. Each day, the students and community members interact on a personal basis providing each other with friendship and support.

“There is one resident who jokes with me each time she sees me,” says Alex Perryman, a graduate of Broad Run High School who will attend the College of Charleston. “She always makes sure my hair looks good.” 

Coworker Michaela Hatton, a recent graduate of Loudoun County High School, also feels connected to the residents she serves. 

“When I’m on vacation and haven’t worked, I find myself missing the residents,” she says. “I appreciate and cherish all of the residents that I have formed relationships with. Their humor, stories, and generosity make working very enjoyable. I thank them all so much for their gift for my future.”

2016 Ashby Ponds scholars

Kender Poore: James Madison University

Alex Perryman: College of Charleston

Mariam Abdulle: George Mason

Michael Hornberger: James Madison University

Melanny Fernandez: Currently attending Northern Virginia Community College

Michaela Hatton: Northern Virginia Community College

Jessica Beanland: Johnson & Wales