Extended family

Ashby Ponds sales team shares a special bond, especially over the holidays

Created date

October 8th, 2019
(Back row, from left) Laura Stuchlak, Dana Bradshaw, Marjean Stevens, Holly Henderson, Christa Gormley, and Rachel Gilbert. (Front row, from left) Melissa Bates, Francesca Gavino, and Liz Dunwood

The Ashby Ponds sales team. (Back row, from left) Laura Stuchlak, Dana Bradshaw, Marjean Stevens, Holly Henderson, Christa Gormley, and Rachel Gilbert. (Front row, from left) Melissa Bates, Francesca Gavino, and Liz Dunwoody. 

“I believe that our love for our jobs, and the fact that we work together and know each other like family members, allows us all to best meet the needs of every person wishing to move to Ashby Ponds,” says Holly Henderson, director of sales at the Ashburn, Va., Erickson Living community.

Sales Counselor Melissa Bates agrees.

“We spend as much time, if not more, with our teammates and residents as we do with our families at home,” Bates says. “This is truly the best part of our job. We are each other’s extended family.”

Recently, Henderson, Bates, and the other members of the sales and marketing team shared some of their favorite holiday traditions. 

“We thought it would be fun to share some personal facts from our own lives, as a way of getting to know each of us a little better,” Henderson explains.

Meet the Griswalds

For Sales Counselor Dana Bradshaw, the holiday preparations begin in earnest over the summer as she and her daughters Sydney and Chayse start watching Christmas movies.

Shortly after Halloween, her husband Doug, who also works at Ashby Ponds as the senior facilities manager, starts putting up Christmas lights both inside and outside their home.

“We are definitely like the Griswalds [from the movie Christmas Vacation],” she says. “We don’t turn them on yet, but the day after Thanksgiving, you can see our house for miles.”

Bradshaw, who has worked at Ashby Ponds from day one, is one of several sales and marketing team members with family living at the community. Her mother-in-law Carolyn lives on campus, and her two daughters enjoy making frequent visits.

“In fact, Sydney says that when she grows up she wants to do what I do,” says Bradshaw. 

Baking frenzy

For Sales Associate Laura Stuchlak, the holidays mean baking, a tradition she enjoys with family, including her grandfather, Ben Wingfield, who lives at Ashby Ponds. 

“Christmas cookies have always been a very important part of the holiday season for my family,” she says. “Some of my favorite holiday memories are from time spent in my parent’s kitchen baking cookies for hours. Many times, we would bake up to 12 different types. The best part is sharing all the cookies with our family and friends, spreading the holiday spirit.”

Let me entertain you

Like Stuchlak, Sales Associate Christa Gormley’s favorite holiday tradition involves cooking with family. 

“Once a year, my mother prepares our family’s traditional Christmas Eve dinner,” she says. “Even after moving to Ashby Ponds with my father last July, the tradition continues. My mom loves to entertain and hosted Christmas Eve dinner at their apartment home. My sister and I helped make our special New Mexican tamales. They were delicious, everyone was happy, and I, especially, was content witnessing each day how happy my parents are living at Ashby Ponds.”

Likewise, Senior Sales Associate Liz Dunwoody’s favorite holiday memories revolve around food, especially her family’s Swedish tradition of Grandma Lou’s lingonberry side dish for Thanksgiving.

Back to their roots

For Bates and Senior Sales Associate Marjean Stevens, the holidays are a time to travel back to their childhood homes to celebrate with family.

“My husband Scott and his entire family are huge Ohio State Buckeyes fans,” Bates says. “Many of our celebrations include cheering [the team] on.”

Each Christmas, Stevens and her husband Mark travel back home to Carrolltown, Pa., where they both grew up a mere three streets from each other.

“My mother’s family has owned Rouse’s Flower Shop for the last 65 years,” says Stevens. “It’s always fun to stop by when we are home for a holiday visit.”

For Sales Associate Rachel Gilbert, a native of Springfield, the trip is much shorter. She and her family members, who make up the bluegrass band, The Blue Ridge Travelers, incorporate music into their festivities.

“Each year, we get together to play Christmas music,” says Gilbert, who plays the guitar and sings. “It a joyful way to share the excitement of the season.”

Time to celebrate

Believing wholeheartedly in the Ashby Ponds lifestyle, Henderson, like many members of her sales team, knows firsthand the benefits of living at the Erickson Living community.

In 2015, her husband Mike’s parents, Don and Joan Henderson, moved to Ashby Ponds. Since that time, they’ve maintained all their holiday traditions. 

“Every year, my mother-in-law hosts a big family get-together the Saturday before Christmas,” says Henderson. “Because Mike’s family lives locally, more than 20 of us would come to their house to celebrate. Now, they all come to Ashby Ponds for a delicious meal, and we enjoy a wonderful day together.”

For her part, Henderson ensures that not only her family finds time to celebrate together but also her work family.

“The end of the year is very busy in the sales office,” she says. “Many people chose to move before the end of the year. As a result, we don’t try to squeeze in a party. Instead, we adopt a family in need, providing them with gifts and special treats. Then, in January, we come together for a New Year’s celebration. It’s something special we all look forward to enjoying. We are just as much a family here as we are at home.”