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Labor of love

Working in retirement suits this Ashby Ponds resident just fine

Created date

May 8th, 2018
Donald Henderson poses with his Redskins jacket.

A former high school football player and IRS field agent, Donald Henderson enjoys spending his retirement years working for the Washington Redskins.

In 2017, Bloomberg reported that U.S. seniors are employed at the highest rates since 1962, with almost 19% of people 65 and older working at least part time. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that number is expected to continue to rise, estimating that by 2024, 36% of 65- to 69-year-olds will be active participants in the labor market.

Explaining why older American participation in the workforce is on the rise, Bloomberg cites that “many seniors are healthier and living longer than previous generations. As a result, some decide not to fully retire because they enjoy their jobs or just want to stay active and alert.”

For Donald Henderson, who lives at Ashby Ponds, an Erickson Living community in Ashburn, Va., continuing to work into his retirement years is a labor of love.

Donald works as a member of the security team at Redskins Park, the headquarters and practice facility for the NFL’s Washington Redskins.

“I’ve always enjoyed sports, and this position is a great part-time job that is not only fun but allows me to work with a great group of people.”

Something new

Following his retirement from a 33-year career as a field agent for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Donald continued to work on a part-time basis, most often performing tax work for Ernst and Young during the annual filing season.

“I was happy for the work as it allowed me to stay active in the workforce,” he says. “It was important to me to find opportunities to work but also enjoy activities, like golf, that I didn’t always have the time for when I was working full time.”

In 2002, Donald interviewed with the hiring staff at the Washington Redskins for a job in the equipment department.

“I remember the interview for the position very well,” he says. “The supervisor told me that they were not interested in hiring a ‘belt-looper,’ someone who is only interested in the position as an opportunity to hang around the players and the coaches. I told him he didn’t have to worry about me. I was born and raised in Pittsburgh and am a lifelong Steelers fan. He said, ‘You’re hired.’”

For four years, Donald commuted from his home in West Springfield to Ashburn throughout the football season, gathering the players’ and coachs’ uniforms, washing them, and returning them to the appropriate lockers.

“It was a great job,” he says. “I worked in the locker room with the players and coaching staff and became friends with a lot of them. I now always root for the Redskins except when they play the Steelers.”

Donald worked for the Washington Redskins for five seasons, when the team eliminated his position.

New opportunities

In 2015, Donald and his wife Joan moved to Ashby Ponds, where his daughter-in-law Holly Henderson works as the community’s director of sales.

“We are both very happy at Ashby Ponds, just like Holly said we would be,” he says. “Moving to Loudoun County also puts us closer to all four of our children. We have 11 grandchildren and spend much of our time attending their sporting events.”

After acclimating themselves to their new lives at Ashby Ponds, Donald was eager to, once again, find a part-time position. Because he was living only minutes from Redskins Park, he once again looked into employment opportunities with the team.

Last year, Donald accepted a position with the security department at Redskins Park, working at the entrance booth. Unlike his previous position that provided work only during the playing season, this new position offers year-round employment.

“I enjoy the job very much,” he says. “Working for the Redskins is so different from the work I did during my career. It’s a nice change to do something new.”